As you think about your goals for the coming year, do you want to be skinny? When I was in high school, everyone wanted to be skinny. Except the skinny girl, of course. She wanted to be curvy. The curvy girl wanted to be thin. The thin girl wanted to be voluptuous and almost no one wanted to be whatever they were. Sometimes we’re not much different as adults. Personally, I don’t want to be skinny. I’ve been skinny. I want to be healthy. What is metabolically healthy isn’t necessarily what Hollywood and the fashion industry, or the music industry, or heck sometimes even the health industry want you to believe is healthy. A bony figure, defined collar bones, and thigh-gap are often the goals. Guess what, these images aren’t always healthy. I want to be healthy and I think that is beautiful.
I would love it if our body images aligned with reality. The truth is that a healthy body can come in many sizes and shapes. We human bodies are like snowflakes — all with similar sizes and shapes, but with some very, very unique differences. I love the Dove Real Beauty campaign and how they promote the fact that the “perfect” real body isn’t what we see in the media all the time…it’s a lot like the real bodies we live in all the time.
Need a real measure? Here’s a start – calculate your BMI here. If your BMI is out of the normal range, take steps to lose or gain weight to get closer (and eventually within) the normal range. It’s a range! Second, measure your waist circumference. If it’s larger than 35″ for women and 40″ for men, start working to whittle that down. The closer you are to the normal range in each of these areas, the lower your risk for disease like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease…even some cancers. Healthy weight is a range!
First, clean up your diet. Focus on meeting your body’s needs for nutrient-dense, really good for you food! Fruits, vegetables, whole and intact grains, lean proteins, nuts and seeds, dairy, and plenty of water. Once you’ve met those needs for the day, you can see if you have room for a treat. No treats before you’ve eaten what your body needs. (But remember, healthy food can also be tasty food!) Next, get moving. Focus on incorporating more physical activity into your day. Walk to talk to a co-worker instead of instant messaging or phoning. Park farther from the entrance of your building. Take the stairs. Then do some actual, real, intentional physical activity (some people call this exercise). It can be briskly walking your dog (or baby…or both), swimming at the local aquatic center or YMCA, taking an exercise class, going for a bike ride, or doing aerobics in that spare room in your basement. Whatever. Just move fast enough to get your heart going and your breathing too. Do it for at least 30 minutes most days. Lastly, add some resistance training. Your muscles will not be toned without being intentional. You need to add some weight. Use your body weight as push-ups, dips, squats, and lunges, or include weights. I had a friend who used to use cans of beans (the big ones) for her weights and she had the most beautifully sculpted arms! An old tube sock full of rice also works.
Do you want to be skinny or do you want to be healthy? Here’s the hard truth…You may never look like a supermodel. Here’s the beautiful truth…You don’t need to. You only need to be healthy. Whatever that looks like on you.