Healthy is the New Skinny

Its been a while since I posted.  Graduation, life decisions, moving, finals, blah blah blah busy.

But a friend posted a link on Facebook today to an article about fitness and health.  And it got me on a rabbit trail and I post it all here for you.

For some background, why these articles struck me is that they are written from the perspective of a woman who needed to get healthy.  And then her quest to take it even farther.  And she wasn’t looking just to get skinny and wasn’t dropping weight in an unhealthy manner.  And yet, she felt unhealthy.  Lowered libido, fatigue, irritability, irregular period, body dimorphism: all symptoms of disordered eating.

At her lowest, her BMI was still 22.1, well within the healthy range.  She was eating 2200-2300 calories a day (and burning appx 2600-2700).  By the look of her diet and exercise plan, she could have been training for one of those fit model body building competitions I see lots of acquaintances joining these days.  And yet, she wasn’t healthy.  A body fat percentage in the single digits was killing her.

And it made me think how our diet obsessed and appearance obsessed culture is killing so many of us too.  Its killing our personalities, our energies, our joy and enthusiasm for the world around us but it is also killing our goddamn bodies.  Whether you’re looking at Vogue or at Fitness Weekly (or whatever freakin’ health magazines people read, obviously I don’t know), you’re looking at a lie.  I almost said fairy tale and maybe that would have been appropriate, but its time for some stronger language, people.

There is no one body type.  There is no one standard for healthy.  Our bodies are built to survive. They are individually tailored to our needs.  And most of them are damn good at what they do.  Some of my friends are thin, are beautifully healthy and thin.  They were born thin and they will die thin.  And that’s wonderful. Some of my friends are beefy and covered in muscles.  I don’t understand it but they love running and exercise and they are beautifully beefy.  Good for them.  Some of my friends (and me) and fantastically squishy and curvy and perfect that way too.  Don’t be unhealthy.  Sure, don’t stuff your face with McDonald’s french fries (unless you’ve been drinking and then PLEASE DO).  But please, don’t be unhealthy.  Don’t work out until you have no body fat left (you need that shit!).  Don’t juice yourself into a frenzy.  Don’t restrict and nom on saltine crackers when you need a freakin’ cupcake.  Your body is smart.  It can tell you what it needs.   I love kale.  And bread.  And I feel sick when I spend all day eating Jelly Beans.  So I try to remember to eat mostly kale and bread.  And I substitute wine and dark chocolate for the Jelly Beans because my body loves wine and dark chocolate.  I may not lose weight or tone up, but I feel healthy.

I don’t feel healthy when I obsess about hitting the gym, when I restrict calories to be healthy.  When I try to restrict my eating habits, I’m not healthy.  I’ve gone nuts in both directions.  And my body has remained essentially the same.  Maybe that’s a sign that for me, 120 pounds with some healthy curves is just the way I’m meant to be.  If it takes three hours at the gym and 1000 calories a day to have a little extra muscle and a little less fat, maybe that’s too high a price to pay and maybe it’s not something I even want.  My body is different from anyone else’s.  And maybe I need a little extra fat to stabilize my hormones (surprise, fat does that) and to regulate heat (I’m always cold) and to promote normal organ function.  You might need less than me or even more.  So your body might look different.  And that is just fine.  In fact, its fucking wonderful.  I can love the way you and I look, no matter how much skinnier, how much buffer, how much heavier, whatever!

I’ve danced on the edge of body dysmorphic disorder and I’m tired of looking in the mirror and treating my perfectly healthy body badly.  I am healthy most of the time and I know it.  So I like wine and chocolate more than I like the gym…so what?  My body functions really freaking well.  Why is that less important than the fact that my thighs touch?  Who decided that sameness was perfection?

I’m ready for some diversity.  And that’s really hard to say because society is so detrimentally focused on appearance.  I’d say that women have it the hardest, but its not easy for men either, let’s just be honest here.  And I’m exhausted of chasing a pipe dream of bodily perfection.  There are so many other much more important dreams to chase.  And I need my body healthy to catch them.


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