What does health mean for you? Is it eating a certain amount of fruits and vegetables per week? Is it working out every day? Is it weighing little enough to fit into your favorite dress?
There are so many different types of health, determined by our doctors, our society, our friends, and ourselves. Health is objective in the sense that there are certain scientific parameters for what is and isn’t a properly functioning body. Beyond that, our perception of health goes too far in some ways and goes nowhere in others.
Health should never be about how much you weigh. It’s easy to say that larger people have no excuse for their size, and that’s it all comes down to laziness vs. initiative. Let me rephrase: it’s easy to say that when you’re skinny. However, when you find yourself in a mental battle with an eating disorder, some life crisis, or medical issue, you’re forced to look at the world differently.
Personally, I have a very fast metabolism and I’m very active. When I gained a lot of weight freshman year, it was psychologically crippling and losing it was all I could think about for months. I did lose it, but the mental stress I put myself through to do so may not have been worth it. Am I healthier for having lost that weight? Physically, maybe a TINY bit, but mentally, it affected me negatively. This is what I mean when I say health is not objective, and it is not solely physical.
I think a lot about this in the context of one of my friends who has a slower metabolism and whose genes led her to be larger ever since she was little. People assume that she must eat a ton, not exercise, and generally perpetuate her size without trying to change it. Without going into detail, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Encouraging people to step away from technology or fast food for exercise and nutrition is important; shaming them for their genes is cruel. Society’s expectations are exact and unforgiving. This is why I’m a supporter of Metagenics, which stresses individual nutrition based on genetic potential. Similar to me, they encourage a healthy lifestyle through exercise and healthier eating that is right for each individual. One person’s idea of health necessarily differs from another’s, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all achieve what is best for ourselves.