Myth: Weight determines health. The smaller/closer to average you are, the better off you are health wise. Being overweight makes you unhealthy.
Sometimes, weight discrimination gets masked as a desire to see someone be healthier. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, thinking that someone NEEDS to lose weight for their own good (caring about their health & not their looks ). Conventional wisdom, and research, has proven time and time again that obesity carries greater risks for some pretty serious conditions, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. So, of course, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that extra weight is a health issue, and a problem that must be solved immediately.
Not so. At least not for everyone.
While studies DO show that being overweight or obese can POSSIBLY heighten your risks for certain diseases, and affect quality of life, that’s not set in stone. Just as being thin doesn’t make you healthy, being overweight doesn’t necessarily make you unhealthy.
Some people who are overweight & obese are healthy and otherwise just fine. Silly societal pressure aside, they don’t have any medical reason to lose weight. Although the group has an overall higher risk for some diseases, illnesses and health problems, there’s a great degree of variance amongst it’s members. So while some may be very unhealthy, and could significantly improve their health with habit changes, some are just fine (and healthier than their thinner counterpart).
If you’re overweight or obese, check in with a doctor often to see how you’re doing. You ARE in a high risk group, but that doesn’t mean that YOU are unhealthy. That’s between you and your doctor.
If you have noticed a decline in health, mobility or energy or have a verified medical issue due to weight, talk to your doctor about how to start taking steps to prevent further illness. Weightloss through proper diet & exercise might be your best bet to stave off future illness and live a fuller life.
If you have a family member who’s larger, and seems otherwise healthy, back off. Pressure to lose weight from friends and family can ruin relationships and hinder results. Support from friends & family is great, but pressure? Not so much. And saying ‘oh, that’s a good choice’ whenever you catch them with a salad? Annoying. Ask to join them on walks, tell them they look great, don’t be a jerk.
If you’ve been spouting some ‘holier-than-thou-YOU-need-to-get-healthy’ judgments on your friends, family or even behind the backs of strangers? Knock it off. You don’t know if they are or not. And you sound like a bit of an ass, and people don’t like asses. Live your life, let people live theirs. If they want your advice or help, they WILL ask for it.
This is really important for more people to understand, since health is an area many in the fitness community feel strongly about. Many fitness professionals (and enthusiasts) forget that health is about more than just your B.M.I (even those who know that B.M.I is not an indicator of health at all).
So if you find yourself judging people for their size and think it’s a matter of health? Check yourself… you might have a case of the judgies. Judging someone based on size is not only ineffective in terms of encouragement; it’s just mean. Focus on yourself. :)