Healthy at every size!


Ragen Chastain, dancer and author of 'Dances With Fat'

Ragen Chastain, dancer and author of ‘Dances With Fat’ — Photograph by Richard Sabel (used with permission of the photographer)

I have a good friend, Ragen Chastain, who blogs over at “Dances With Fat“.

Her blog is awesome!  She’s a very talented writer.  And dancer.  And Choreographer. And a beautiful person, both inside and out!   It is simply not fair that so much talent and niceness be packed into one person!  🙂

Be sure to check out her blog and subscribe, especially if you’re on a quest to get healthy. Why? Because she makes an extremely valid point which, unfortunately, is not widely accepted:

You can be healthy at any size!

What she says, in my own words, is that just because you are fat, that does equal being unhealthy.  And just because you’re thin, that does not equal “good health“.  There are large people who are perfectly healthy.  There are skinny people who are unhealthy.

A medical study that Ragen mentions in a recent post to her blog supports this.  Be sure to read the post and the study.  I read the study.  Ok, ok, I only read the abstract.  The details of the study soon put me to sleep, plus they were using them thar big ole words tha’ cowboys like me from ta piney woods of East Texas jus’ get all befuddled ’bout.  😉

The conclusion of the study says, and I quote:

“BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio, whether assessed singly or in combination, do not importantly improve cardiovascular disease risk prediction in people in developed countries when additional information is available for systolic blood pressure, history of diabetes, and lipids.”

So, dear readers, I hear you asking, all two of you who actually read my blog, “Tony, if being fat does not mean that you’re unhealthy, why are you trying to lose weight?”

Good question.  The answer is that I’m not really trying to lose weight, not per se.  I’m trying to be healthy.  More precisely, I’m trying to make fundamental changes to my life and lifestyle so that being healthy IS “just the way I live”.  In other words, I am working to make “being healthy” a normal, routine part of my life and lifestyle.  And goodness knows, making such a fundamental change ain’t easy!

Unfortunately I, like many others fall into a linguistic trap and use the phrase “loosing weight” synonymously with “lowering body fat percentage” and with “being healthy.”  It is true that the three phrases are inter-related and for many, including myself, they overlap to some degree, but they are not synonyms.  They mean different things.

When I metaphorically throw away the rose-colored glasses and gaze at myself objectively I find evidence that I should indeed lose some weight as part of my goal to be healthy.  I’m not a doctor, but when I look at my body and my life, here are some things which would improve with fewer pounds.

  • I’m under treatment for high blood pressure.  Some of this is due to stress.  Some due to excess body fat.
  • When I walk up stairs, I can feel the pressure on my joints as I climb each step.  And let me tell you friends, it ain’t a good feeling.  I am fairly certain that the pressure I feel is weight induced because when I carry groceries or other things up the stairs, the pressure I feel in my joints increases, dramatically, and not in a good way.
  • I snore.  LOUDLY.  I have weight related Sleep ApneaI would really like to get a good night’s sleep.  I don’t care about the sound of the snores.  I’m asleep after all.  I don’t hear it.  But I do care that I keep waking up because I can’t breathe.  This leads to poor sleep which leads to fatigue and low energy which makes everything that I do more difficult.  With a few less pounds the sleep apnea would be less acute and conditions would improve.

Notice that I’m listing only those things which I believe to have a clear relationship between my excess pounds and my health.  I’m  not including things like “I get out of breath easy”.  That is not directly related to weight.  That is evidence that I need to increase my cardiovascular capacity which I could do through exercise regardless of my total body weight or body fat percentage.

Another example of a “typical reason to lose weight” which has nothing to do with being healthy:  “I need to lose weight because my clothes pinch” or “My clothes don’t fit”.  Well, uhmm.. ok, uhhhmm… Well duh!  Go buy clothes that look good on you, fit properly, and don’t pinch!  🙂  You don’t have to lose weight to solve that problem!

One last example of a false correlation [see a cowboy can use $20 multisyllable words] that places weight as the “cause”: “I can’t tie my shoes because I’m fat.”  True, that problem could indeed be solved by loosing weight but it could also be solved by a regime of stretching and becoming more flexible.

So, the point?  For me, “being healthy” means I need to lower my body fat percentage which means that I will loose some pounds on the journey to a healthy me.  But that is not the case for everyone.  You have to do your own assessment.

Evaluate your own body.  Be realistic in your self-evaluation.  When trying to get healthy, the focus should be on “getting healthy“.  Do the things that lead to a healthy you.  If that means that along the way some weight comes off then FAB-U-LUS!  Or, as in my case, if you determine that some weight should come off for health reasons, then “Awesome! Go for it!”.  But if, at the end of the day, you’re healthy and you’re large, “So what!?!”   Ragen and many beautiful folks like her are healthy and large.

Be yourself, love yourself, be good to yourself and work toward a healthy body no matter what size that healthy body may be!

See ya on the dance floor!

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About TxCowboyDancer

Eight time Country Dance World Champion. I love to dance. In the middle of a journey, transforming myself from "unemployed and out-of-shape" to "in-shape and full time dance instructor, writer and graphic artist."

Posted on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, in Misc and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

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