In our culture we’re surrounded by images of skinny people who are presented as the embodiment of good health, well-being, and beauty. We see them on magazine covers, on television and in the movies, even on advertisements. What we don’t see is a wider representation of body types, and very few of us can recognize ourselves in the images we see beyond a certain age. The persistence of skinny imagery causes many people, particularly women, to perceive themselves as being overweight when they are actually at a healthy body weight. Not only that, but these images don’t show us the wide variation in body types which can prevail even at a single weight. Skinny is a shape, not a weight, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate health to the exclusion of other body types.
What are some examples of body types which aren’t skinny but are healthy? Let’s say you work out a lot and you’ve built a lot of muscle. Muscle is heavier than fat. You could well find the scale reads high, and you may not have a skinny profile, but you could be very healthy. There are also many women who have prominent curves who may weigh no more than other women who appear skinny. It’s entirely possible to weight 134 pounds (a healthy weight for a whole range of heights) and wear a size 12. Trying to lose weight in this circumstance would be foolish, because losing weight might not change that waistline, but it might result in deprivation, malnutrition, and an unhealthy low weight.
What to Strive For
Your goal in life where your body is concerned should always be optimum health. This should drive all other concerns, such as those you might have about your appearance. The really important numbers are your body mass index, your weight distribution, and numbers which reveal what’s going on with the internal workings of your body, like blood glucose and blood pressure. If those numbers are healthy, your waistline shouldn’t be a concern. If you have concerns about your body image, make an appointment for a physical with your doctor, and get the readouts on your health. If the feedback is positive, you shouldn’t be worried about losing weight, just staying in great shape and maintaining your weight. If the feedback is negative, maybe you could stand to burn some fat.
Maintaining Healthy Habits
Whether you’re already at a healthy weight or you need to lose weight, avoid going on unhealthy crash diets. These diets rely on nutritional and caloric deprivation to help you lose weight fast. The result can be malnutrition (a very serious disorder) and low metabolism. When you finish with the crash diet and start eating again, since you’ll have destroyed your metabolism dieting, you’ll immediately gain back all the weight you lost.
Instead, aim for a healthy, moderate lifestyle that you can sustain over the long term. This means choosing a diet that includes all the healthy food groups and doesn’t cut out any one nutrition (carbohydrates, fat, etc.). Go online and look a calorie calculator and put in your age, sex, weight, and activity level. The calculator will tell you roughly how many calories a day you need to eat to maintain or lose weight. Counting calories may sound like a pain, but it’s a mathematically sound way to lose or maintain your weight. Once you learn the caloric value of common foods, you’ll be able to intuitively add up your calories in time, and you won’t think much about it—you’ll just know when you’re overeating and when you’re not.
If you’re sedentary, increase your activity levels. You don’t need to go overboard. Doing some moderate, healthy exercise several times a week is usually sufficient. Overworking has dangers, just like being inactive. You can also take some healthy supplements to help you get more out of your workout routine such as Jack3d, an all-natural supplement which gives you an energy boost when you exercise. Taking a multivitamin and some fiber pills can also help you to achieve your health goals. When you learn to follow a healthy lifestyle which you can maintain over the long term, you’ll not only improve your health but also develop self-esteem. You won’t worry about being skinny anymore, because you’ll know that your body is perfect just the way it is, because you’re taking care of it.
This is a guest post by Lilly Sheperd, an occasional guest blogger and a freelance communication consultant, works with Jack3d.org nowadays. When not blogging, Lilly likes to travel and read a lot, especially about education and healthy lifestyle.