February 2021
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What Does a Healthy Body Look Like?

You probably know many people who have tried to lose weight, are currently dieting, or at least say that they would like to drop a few pounds … one of these statements might even describe you right now. If someone wants to lose weight, we don’t normally ask them why, we usually ask ‘how much’. But the question that most people don’t consider is why. Why do you want to lose weight? What do you think will happen when you get to your goal size? For some people it might be a recommendation by their doctor and a matter of serious health problems. Any body image and aesthetic improvement would be secondary to the immediate health improvements. But for most of the rest of us the health issues are not what drives us to want to lose weight. It is in fact the look of our body that we’re interested in changing and the health benefits are secondary to the look. At first glance this seems a bit superficial and even vain. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll see that the look of your body is probably your best indicator of your health as well. After all we really only have two ways of telling if something is wrong with our bodies: a) It feels wrong – something hurts or we feel ‘sick’ b) It looks wrong – a rash, bump, scratch, swelling, a joint or bone out of place, or too much fat! The point is that we only have these two pieces of information to go on to tell if there is something wrong with our bodies.

Once we’ve seen or felt that there is a problem we can go to a doctor and get even more information that is not possible to see or feel. For example a doctor can tell you that you’re at a high risk for a heart attack even though this is not readily apparent in a mirror (although being overweight is a good indicator) and you cannot feel how close you are to having a heart attack … you only feel it once you finally have the heart attack…at which point it is too late to do anything about it. The reason we have BMI charts and recommendations of a ‘healthy’ weight is so medical care providers can give you a visual cue that matches what their internal measurements like blood cholesterol and blood pressure are telling them about your relative risk of disease. In other words, there is a specific body shape and look that also predicts healthiness. Someone who is 100 pounds overweight almost assuredly has poor blood lipid profiles, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and many other problems associated with the extra weight and the high calorie intake required to get to that size. Conversely someone who is at or close to their ideal bodyweight for their height most likely has much more favorable blood measurements and risk profile of many lifestyle related disorders. In other words, they look healthy, and all measurements indicate that they are healthy. But there is a second level of health that cannot be measured, and that is emotional health and self image. For many of us this is linked to the look of our body. It makes sense that wanting to ‘look’ good or look like you’re in shape is actually no different than saying that you want to look healthy. I may be in the minority here, but I do not agree with the new found rhetoric of ‘being happy with your natural size’ (it’s ironic that this is only ever trumpeted by people who are overweight). This is a load of baloney and is just a sympathetic appeal to overweight people who cannot find the drive to eat less.

No matter how much you try to tell yourself you’re happy with your current size, you will always know you are lying to yourself and this is not good for both your physiological health or your emotional health. Living in denial isn’t any more healthy than living overweight. Doing both just compounds the problems caused by each. I think the most healthy way to approach weight loss is to admit to yourself that you want to lose weight for the purpose of improving the look of your body. And that this new thinner look will not only improve your physical health but also your emotional and psychological health. It is in fact a wholistic view of taking care of yourself. There isn’t much disputing the fact that a healthy looking body, is almost always a healthy body.

About Author
John Barban has a Masters Degree in human biology and nutrition and is a former varsity strength and conditioning coach. John has formulated many sports supplements for both muscle building and weight loss that are currently available on the market and he is the author of the Adonis Effect and the

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