While new science suggests there's no such thing as 'healthy obese,' think of it this way: It’s not that your weight doesn’t matter. It’s just that it’s not the only thing that matters.
Let’s Focus on Something We Can Change
I think another reason that some nutrition professionals are promoting the Health at Every Size approach is that, despite spending the last two or three decades nagging everyone to lose weight, rates of overweight and obesity remain largely unchanged. Many adults have stopped trying, and who can blame them? The odds of long-term success appear to be dismal.
Personally, I think that’s because the way we’ve been taught to lose weight is completely wrong, and I’m doing my best to campaign for a saner approach. Once Oprah gets wind of it, our problems will be solved. But in the meantime, let’s not allow what we can’t change to keep us from changing what we can!
Being as healthy as you can be at your current size may also be a bridge to being healthier at a healthier size in the future.
Vegetables Aren’t Just for Skinny People
Many years ago I profiled a reader who quit smoking cold turkey after being a heavy smoker for more than a decade. After she quit, she was surprised to find that she was suddenly more interested in nutrition and health—something she’d never really paid attention to before. She started going to the gym and eating healthier.
As she explained it to me: “I knew smoking was about the worst thing I could do and because I was smoking, it just didn’t seem worth doing anything else for my health. So I never bothered about nutrition or exercise or anything else. I figured I was a lost cause.”
In the same vein, the Health at Every Size philosophy tries to upend the attitude that exercise and vegetables are only for thin people. It encourages people to pursue healthy habits even if they are overweight, and offers ways to evaluate and measure progress other than simply stepping on the scale. For those who just can’t get the scale to budge, that may be really valuable.
Can You Be Healthy at Any Size?
In a society that’s both stubbornly overweight and intensely biased against being overweight, the Health at Every Size philosophy offers a valuable and needed perspective. It’s not that your weight doesn’t matter. It’s just that it’s not the only thing that matters—in terms of your health but also in terms of your value and rights as a human being.
If you’re overweight, losing weight would probably decrease your risk of various diseases, especially if you go about it in a sane and sustainable way. But choosing healthy foods and being active can also help you be healthier at your current weight. And being as healthy as you can be at your current size may also be a bridge to being healthier at a healthier size in the future.
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