I’ve read a lot about the Health at Every Size movement. Basically, they promote the idea that body size has very little to do with actual health and that it is possible to be healthy at every size. They encourage women of all sizes to have a healthy relationship to food and exercise and encourage the belief that you don’t have to exercise, eat, or look a certain way to be truly healthy. I really admire the movement. I really believe in their mission and their message. Except, of course, when it comes to myself. I am more than willing to believe that other women of any size can be truly healthy, but my brain tells me that it’s impossible for my body to be healthy at its current size. I’ve gained a substantial amount of weight so how could I possibly be healthy? Other women’s bodies may be healthy at this size, but I’m sure mine isn’t.
At the (strong) encouragement of my therapist I decided to test the theory that my body couldn’t be healthy at this size. Of course, the point of the experiment was to prove that I am healthy at this size and confront my own weight biases, but I didn’t see it going that way. The first step was doing something I’d been terrified to do for years: get a physical. I’m going to be honest and admit that unless I was very ill or had a broken body part I had not been to a doctor in years. Going in to the appointment I was terrified that I would be told I was, in fact, unhealthy and that I would need to lose weight in order to be healthy. Even before the appointment I knew that this fear was irrational, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there must be something wrong with a body this size.
Despite my terror, I showed up for the blood tests earlier this week and my appointment today. The verdict? My blood pressure is normal, my thyroid is functioning normally (which has not always been the case), my organ function is fine for all my major organs, and my cholesterol is only high because my “good cholesterol” is outrageously high; my bad cholesterol is markedly low. To summarize: I am absolutely healthy. The doctor literally uttered the words “not a single thing to complain about.” This would be a positive result regardless of my previous medical history, but it’s even more remarkable because I have suffered from chronic illness in the past. Not only is this body, exactly the way it is, not sick, it is perfectly healthy.
The results of my experiment on health and body size left me overjoyed and confused. I was so relieved to hear that I am, perhaps, the healthiest I have ever been. I was also completely confused as to how this was possible. Everything I had ever been told about my body indicated that I should be healthier when I’m smaller, not bigger. My entire paradigm for assessing my health relied on my body being smaller. All of my assumptions about my own health were based around being a certain size. Today, I was confronted with the facts, in black and white, that proved all my assumptions wrong. I am being forced to confront the fact that I am healthy at this size.
I haven’t had enough time to process this yet, but I do know that it is the beginning of a monumental shift in how I view my body and my health. I haven’t had enough time to shift my perspective, but I can feel the shift coming. I was once told that in order to fully recover I would have to throw out all my old ideas about myself and the world. At the time that seemed impossible, but now I feel like I see the beginning of the path. It’s a super long path. It’s going to take me a long time to walk it. But you never reach the summit if you never start hiking. Time to walk in to the woods.