What makes us healthy? Or how do we evaluate our own health?
In 1948, WHO defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease”
Although, after a quick scroll through Instagram and you would think health equals restriction, fasting and protein powder. What do all these things have in common? A huge focus on our physical health and almost zero input on our mental health.
The truth is that we cannot and should not rate an individual’s health on their size or weight, we are so much more than a number on a scale, and I believe our health should be viewed in a more holistic sense.
My Apple Watch tells me how I am doing, in my day by tracking my movement, exercise and steps and as much as I am an advocate for gentle movement and the benefits it has on the body. I do wonder why in this day and age, so little consideration is put on mental health when it is just as important as physical health.
Consider the mind-body connection
I remember a particularly stressful week that I had recently. It was full of conflict and anxiety and my body made sure I knew it. I had the worst headache I have ever had. I had fatigue that felt like it was pushing my body down and an incredibly short fuse. All these symptoms eased once the situation was resolved and once my cortisol levels returned to normal. According to Newport academy .com ‘Studies have found that stressful emotions decrease immunity by altering blood cell function. In one study, researchers found that stress diminishes white blood cell response to infected cells and cancer cells. In addition, when individuals are stressed, they heal more slowly.’
Stress can affect our mental and physical health in so many ways. It can be associated skin rashes, joint pain, digestive issues, and much more. According to Stefanie Rienold MD ‘Stress hormones in people struggling with weight stigma are similar to people that live in a low socio-economic status. Does that mean weight stigma may be affecting our health negatively? In short, yes it does!
When we look at our health holistically,
we also need to consider our careers and financial health. Are we fulfilled in what we do day to day? Are we struggling financially?
Our relationships and connections will also have a huge impact on our health. Robert Waldinger explains the findings of the famous Harvard study are very clear.” good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” He shared in his Ted Talk about how important the quality of these relationships truly are. Brene Brown also states the importance of creativity in our lives. The ability to sing, dance and play are vital in living wholistically.
Finally, your health is unique to you. It’s not about BMI (which by the way was actually NEVER intended to be used as a health tool) or our size and instead a unique combination of how we incorporate our lives, look after ourselves and enjoy life.
We need support from health professionals that see us as unique individuals and help us in a weight and size inclusive way.
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