You can be healthy at all sizes! Research shows that in order to be healthy you don’t need to be a particular size. In fact there are many individuals who are above their most comfortable weight that are very healthy; just as there are individuals who are thin but very unhealthy. By aiming to want to be a particular size a shift can happen where instead of focusing on being as healthy as you reasonably can be you become ensnared in food preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, and yo-yo dieting. These ultimately will be much worse for your emotional and physical health than carrying an extra few kilos.
Interesting to know that prior to the early 1940s there was no regular sizing set in stone. So wanting to be a size 10 or 12, for example, was not a common thought because, at that time, clothes were made or altered by a tailor to fit you. The standardisation of clothing sizes only happened with the development of the clothing industry and the need to make large amounts of factory-standard clothing. This meant that specific sizing of clothes needed to be established. Unfortunately, society has personalised this and made it a desirable goal to be able to fit into smaller-sized clothing. But what happens is that everyone’s body shape is different and fitting into lesser sizes does not mean that you will necessarily be better.
Health at Every Size
Consider that your body will naturally want to be healthy at your given weight, regardless of what your current size might be1. Losing weight is not always the answer, with research suggesting that being healthy is more about your health behaviours than it is about the number on the scales. This means that although your weight and size might not shift, by being purposeful about improving your overall health and well-being through positive habits and lifestyle changes your body responds by working better. Of course, loss in body size might well be a natural effect of healthier behaviours but should not be the focus.
The approach of knowing that you can be healthy at any size does not serve as a reason to continue to live with unhealthy habits – quite the opposite. By focusing on your health behaviours as contrasting to your weight and size you can be in tune with when you need to change your habits to feel healthier rather than just to look a certain way.
This means that even if you are within what is considered a ‘normal’ weight range for your height you may still be quite unhealthy due to your behaviours not fostering a true internal health.
Consider assessing your health by different measures. Healthy for you might mean, for instance, having enough energy to do what you like doing and to feel good. It might also mean living without chronic diseases, and having sound mental health. Whatever the focus might be for you try to steer away from a weight or size goal as this does not equate to good health, greater intimacy or happiness in the long run.
Living Healthy No Matter Your Size
The first step in moving towards health is to accept that your weight may not change. In fact you might already be sitting at a healthy weight for your age and frame. Saying that if you provide your body with what it needs, and let it do its job, which is to heal, sustain your life, and provide you with energy, it will naturally return you to a healthy weight.
The Health at Every Size movement supports this concept and began in full swing in the late 60s. It is based on the evidence that the best way to improve your health is to honour your body. It supports people in embracing health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).
Health at Every Size therefore encourages:
- Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of diverse body shapes and sizes.
- Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honours internal cues of hunger, satiety and appetite.
- Finding the joy in moving your body and becoming more physically vital.
In essence, the premise of being healthy, no matter what your size, is to focus instead on good health and feeling great and take the focus off weight.