Everywhere we look, magazines, television, books, there are representations of what health should look like. In 99.9% of those cases it is a fat free world -- one most of the plus size community will never see; and not for lack of trying, will power, or stupidity -- so put those thoughts to sleep right now.
Have you ever stepped back from yourself and defined what real health means to you? Have you defined your health by what you see in the mirror? Or the number you see on a scale. Or are greeted at the customer service counter? Or does it have more to do with how you feel when you wake up in the morning?
Over the last five years I have stopped defining my health by my weight despite the constant drone of the "obesity epidemic" in my ear. For me, a more realistic representation of my health comes from my blood pressure, pulse rate, blood sugar, cholesterol, thyroid and other blood chemistry results, and I can't leave out bone density.
The first way for me to check my health is to visit a doctor, yes the dreaded doctor's office. I hate to say this but if you haven't been for more than a year then it is time for you to go. If you don't like your doctor then open up the phone book and find another.
While you are in the Doctor's office make sure you are in control of your visit's direction -- don't let the focus fall to your weight and you losing it. If you haven't been in a while your first goal is to establish a baseline for your health. Sure they will want to take your weight -- let them but don't focus on the number. What is important is finding your baseline totals and I don't mean your Body Mass Index (BMI) either. You should know what your blood pressure, pulse rate, blood sugar, and other blood chemistry are. If they are not normal, then how much above or below normal are they. It is important to know what your body is doing and to at least have a baseline to refer back to as well as what the numbers mean. These few basic give us a better idea of our body's overall health than the number on the scale. (Note: if you eat a grease ridden dinner the night before it's going to show up in your bloodwork.)
Now that you have the results of your blood work and your physical you need to decide what they mean to you. If they show you are within normal limits you have to decide if you are happy with those results then go on living your life for the next year. But that doesn't give you carte blanche to stop taking care of yourself by eating more sugar and grease. While you don't have to give up anything the focus should still be on maintaining your health. Insert any traditional fruit and veggie's quote you would like here -- they are still all true.
So what if the opposite is true? Your blood work etc wasn't within normal limits? This is where you are going to make your doctor earn his wages. Ask him what to do. Don't let him get away with "eat better" and "exercise" or pass you off to the closest Weight Watchers co-ordinator. Ask him for specifics. If your blood sugar is high then, then how high? Do you need to eat three real meals a day and reduce your fat intake? Depending on the degree that doesn't mean going cold turkey all together. Again, ask for specifics. If you are fond of French fries, can you have them once a week? If you can't imagine life without twinkies -- how often can you have them? If you need the help, you have to ask for it and you have to be specific. If he says you need to exercise more and you currently do nothing but walk to your vehicle and back he doesn't mean you have to run a marathon. Going for a walk for twenty minutes three times a week will significantly improve your health over not walking at all. Get the idea?
Do not let people dictate to you that losing weight will make you healthy or healthier. Losing weight does not guarantee good health. Either does eating right and moving -- but eating right and moving are the basis for good health and we all should strive for those -- losing weight may or may not be a side effect but it should not be your main focus or goal.
Take a few minutes today to put a pen to paper and list what health looks like to you without focusing on your weight. Then make an appointment with your general practitioner.