Healthstyle Blog

Healthy Comes in Different Shapes and Sizes

The following was orginally published in BUSINESSDAY Magazine.

Think about the last time you saw yourself in a full-length mirror. Did you look healthy? If you’re like most women, you’re probably shaking your head to the contrary right now—and the reason has a lot to do with the images that surround us, the ideals of health and beauty we’ve seen in magazines and on the television since we were children. Few of us can measure up to those standards—and we really shouldn’t want to.

Consider this: The average woman is 5’4 1⁄2” tall, weighs 166 pounds and wears a size 14. The average fashion model is 5’10” tall, weighs 115 pounds, and wears a size 4. Plug the average woman’s stats into a body mass index calculator and it will tell you she is overweight. However, the fashion model’s stats put her in the underweight category—territory that can be just as dangerous to health (if not more so) according to scientific research.

Being thin does not necessarily make one healthier. Likewise, being “overweight” by medical standards does not necessarily make one less so. In a recent study, researchers found that metabolic fitness (defined by healthy insulin production, an adequate level of good cholesterol, low level of triglycerides and normal blood pressure) was more important than weight in determining health. In fact, they determined the “fat but fit” study participants had the same risk of dying from any cause as those who were metabolically healthy and normal weight.

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What does this mean for you? Simply put, stop gauging your health by the number you see on the scale or the tag inside your jeans. Think about how you feel instead. If you feel tired, sluggish, worn down or unsatisfied, you probably need to make a few changes to improve your health. Start adding healthier foods to your diet. Get outside for fresh air and exercise. Ask for help—from a professional or a supportive friend or family member—if you need it.

If you feel great—happy except for when you look at your body or think about your weight—you may need to change your self-image. Stop looking for perfection or trying to fit into that tiny box labeled “unrealistic beauty standards.” You are healthy—and gorgeous—just the way you are.

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