By, Carolyn Fetters & Katy Gaastra
Pictures and videos of seemingly healthy people are everywhere we look.
Healthy people tend to be depicted as lean, toned, muscular, sun-kissed, blemish-free, and even somehow “glowing”…. at least that’s what the images tell us.
What’s interesting about this is that we actually have no insight into the person’s actual health; we just know that they “look healthy” by the above mentioned characteristics . It’s easy to fall prey to this way of thinking, especially when the opposite images of an overweight or obese person is automatically defined as “unhealthy” which again, is an unfair bias.
As someone who has been professionally operating in the health and fitness space for over three decades, I’ve watched many trends and beliefs come and go but the picture of what healthy looks like doesn’t seem to change much. Of course we encountered the body-positive movement, which isn’t gone; however, society and healthcare entities question the validity of this concept on a regular basis.
Can a person be obese and healthy at the same time? Yes.
Conversely, can a thin and fit person be unhealthy? Yes!
As a nutrition expert, I am always surprised how many thin people are developing chronic illnesses, mainly Type 2 Diabetes. And although an obese person might not yet have developed a chronic illness, there is a very high chance they will over time from the excess body fat they are carrying. It’s simply a given, as excess body fat weakens the body and degrades cells to the point they are more susceptible to illness.
That’s not a judgment. That is a scientific fact.
Back to my original question, does healthy have a look?
I’d argue it does not. I’d like to briefly describe a scenario for consideration:
Imagine for a moment — if ANY person were to decide they were ready to focus on their health as their main priority, what do you think they’d do? First, they would likely evaluate their level of fitness and decide to do something about that —maybe start walking or join a gym. Next, they will probably take a look at the way they’re eating and decide to create change there, too.
These are the natural first steps folks tend to take. And guess what happens? People begin to improve their health from the inside out. They begin releasing body fat weight, the cells of their body strengthen, bone density improves, energy levels increase, sleep improves, and life just gets better! So, while they might not yet be at a “healthy” weight, or appear characteristically “thin”, they are improving their health and that is a huge win!
The bottom line: healthy looks different for everyone, and that’s okay. No matter what, weight loss is a positive byproduct, even when obtaining health is the goal. They just go hand in hand.
Take it from someone who has been coaching and counseling people to become healthy & fit for over thirty years, if more people focused on their actual health, versus the way they look, achieving health would be less stressful and easier with the emphasis on something more valuable. After all, our greatest wealth is our health!