The Health Debate

Welcome to 2014 where terms like ‘clean eating’, fitspo, bulking, shredding and quinoa are rife in everyone’s vocabulary. It is the prime medium to attempt to promote health and wellbeing but also runs the risk of creating serious body image issues within many people.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This boom in the so called ‘health and fitness’ industry has also resulted in retaliation from the likes of those within the ‘plus size’ industries or those who say ‘curvy is sexy’.

I’ve always wondered, why does either industry have to be the infallible perception of health. Because let’s face it. Isn’t that the goal? Health? I would like to think that health is the definition of sexy. Like in most scenarios, the real truth probably lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

It is well discussed that radical dieting, excessive exercise and an obsession with looking a certain way takes a serious mental toll. This is the industry that tells you to cut carbs and fats and up the protein. Little do most people realise a high protein diet is highly demanding on our renal system, our kidneys. You need to seriously up your water consumption to healthily maintain a high protein diet and even then you can be stressing your body out more than you need to.

Somehow it seems to be more politically correct to target the health and fitness industry for promotion of things that are not so healthy and fit. However any negative talk about the plus size model world and there is an outcry claiming that you are against the ‘real women’ of the world. Are non curvalicious women somehow ‘unreal’?

To me there is a fundamental issue when the modelling industry is divided based on size. You’re not looking into their health parameters at all. As a future doctor this confuses me. Regardless of what size you are if your blood pressure is off, your blood sugar levels are too high or too low or if you’re nutrition status is making you anaemic or deficient in vitamins and minerals, you are NOT healthy.

Genetics plays a huge role in your size, your weight, your height, the presence or absence of that elusive ‘box gap’. None of these things can single handedly determine a person’s overall health.

There are unhealthy people in both industries. You can push your body so hard when aiming for fitness that you overdo it and are no longer reaping any health benefits. Conversely, it is proven that after a certain point carrying fat on your body is unhealthy. That’s right, I am saying it, some plus size models are unhealthy. There is curvy, which is dependent on your figure and genetics, and then there is just plain fat. Crucify me for saying that if you like, but you know it’s true.

I am not a dietician, a personal trainer or anything of the sort. I am merely targeting certain perceptions within society. I urge people to remember how key health is in all of this. Sometimes its easy to get caught up in the number on your scale or on the tags of your clothing. It can be a good indication of progress and provide motivation for you, but remember your penultimate goal (in my opinion) should be health.

xox your local bohemian

Just a little bit about my personal journey on this topic. I have never been a big person, but have always been so conscious of my appearance, my weight and my ‘pudgy spots’. I am self confessed to have got caught up in all of this pressure and am still working on making sure my final goal is to be healthy. It is an emotionally and physically taxing journey, but one I am adamant to complete. This post is a perfect way to hold myself accountable.

7 thoughts on “The Health Debate

  1. I don’t think the complexity of the health debate was touched on in this article. You also said that some people are just “fat” but also said that your size is, in the most part, determined by your genetics. Your definition of fat is so different to others and so forth. I personally think that people need to just STOP. Stop “fat” shaming, stop “skinny” shaming because really no one has a place to comment on anyone else’s size. Your genetics are different to other people. Does that mean that they are “fatter” than you? Or does that mean that their genetic build enables them to be a different shape to you? Your perception of what is and what isn’t acceptable is a direct comparison to your own size and your perception of whatever warped reality you live in*. *Referring to ‘you’ as a blanket term, not you personally :). It all needs to stop (which I can see undertones of in your article so well done) because it is sad to see girls on platforms such as instagram who are the age of 14, complaining about their size or their hair or whatever else society tells them is not good enough. It is a really sad complex to live with and creates deep seeding mental issues for the rest of their life.

    1. When I say fat, I should probably clarify. Obesity is a serious issue within our modern day society. It is a health issue. It is not a body image issue. Some people are obese and while I don’t think shaming them is an appropriate solution, we as a society need to accept that it is a fact. Genetics only go so far. While weight is not an ideal indicator as a single parameter, there is always a limit. The same goes for the other extreme with anorexia and being underweight. Shaming, as you said is not the solution, but I genuinely think we need to get over this overly PC approach at times. That being said, you ARE not obese, you HAVE obesity, just like you have any other medical condition. It doesn’t define you, but the management of this condition is important. You are right, it is near impossible to touch on the complexities of this issue that is so rife within our society. My perception of what is acceptable is based on health. If I have a 150kg patient come see me, who has diabetes, high blood pressure with dyslipidemia, weight loss is an appropriate management plan. Yes, genetics may play a huge role in it, but sometimes we all get stuck with some shitty genetics that impact on our health and we fight the uphill battle. I hope that makes sense.

  2. Obesity is definitely a health, social and economic issue – among other things. The only person who should be providing advice to that person is their primary health care provider and HELPING them get to the cause of why they are overweight and unhealthy via natural methods and not drugs or surgery if that is possible. To give an example, some people are raped and assaulted as children and develop mental problems which manifest into eating disorders. Yes, that is a problem likely just magnified by the bullying onslaught they likely face (I know a lot of people in situations such as this). I think I’m more so talking about girls calling a size 12 girl fat. That is the problem I have. You are approaching this from a health angle and I’m trying to approach it from a mental health and societal values slant. That said, I know plenty of people who appear thinner than me (I am personally a size 10), and have high blood pressure, early onset liver disease, jaundice etc at the age of 23. They also don’t have as much fat as me (different body shapes), yet society will tell them they are healthy because they are thin. This is why I think everyone should focus on their own health journey whatever that is, gain health advice from people qualified to give it and to strike a healthy balance. Best of luck on your journey to gain control over how you feel about your body. It is a long and tough process, but one day I think you just stop the comparison. There are far too many variables to compare yourself to pretty much anyone.

  3. Thanks for writing this post. This is what needs to happen, people need to talk about it and challenge others ideas. I’m an environmental scientist so I don’t know how this relates to my comments but you know, whatever.

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