One of the things that I really struggled with when I first came to the Health at Every Size(r) concept was the word health. Maybe I’m the only one but for so long “healthy” had been synonymous with “weight loss” that I had a hard time not rebelling against the concept wholesale.
As I’ve always said on this blog – I do not believe that health is a moral, personal, or societal obligation. I believe that everyone gets to choose how highly they want to prioritize their health and what path they want to follow to get there. People are allowed to jump out of helicopters wearing skis and they are allowed to be sedentary and eat a diet of fast food, Also, health is demonstrably multi-dimensional and not all dimensions are within our control.
Since health is important to me, I had to get myself to a place where health is not a dirty word (I should have known since it has 6 letters and not 4). I had to disassociate it from my weight loss days. In order for me to get okay with the H word, I first had to come to it on my own terms. In that process I realized that each of us gets to decide for ourselves what our definition of health is. I think it starts with a baseline – the things that we can’t control – diseases, disabilities whatever. And, at the risk of sounding a little after school special here – it starts with realizing that our baseline health is unique to us and doesn’t make us better or worse, just different. Then you look at what’s possible starting at that baseline, decide what of that possibility you want to achieve, and then create a plan for how to get there.
For me there’s a lot less crazed perfectionism and obsession in health than there was in dieting because it’s on my terms. I’m making decisions based on my goals, not for somebody else’s standards. And I get to succeed early and often: Eat some broccoli – success. Go to the gym – success. Eat some cake without guilt or shame-success. (For me it’s a healthy behavior for me to sometimes eat for pleasure. It is unhealthy to feel guilty or ashamed about it.) Becoming ok with the H word has given me physical health, but something more as well. It’s given me the mental health I need to continue to make good decisions that are in line with my goals.