When “Body Positive” Isn’t Healthy

I recently saw a post online from a man who is in his 20’s who had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. He admitted that he most likely developed this condition at such and early age from being significantly overweight. He was upset when he went to his doctor asking what he could do about the pain in his knees and his doctor told him to lose weight. He asked how and the doctor suggested joining a gym and working out a few days a week. He claimed this was “just another example of fat discrimination”.

Any doctor would have told him the same thing and truthfully that is the best thing you can do to both help reduce the pain and reduced the damage being caused to your body if you are overweight and have osteoarthritis. It’s simply common sense, not discrimination.

I have mixed feelings towards the “body positive” movement that has been going on for some time now. Yes you should love yourself and other people should love you for who you are but being overweight isn’t who you are. It’s a health risk that can and should be fixed. I recently saw a twitter post of an obese woman wearing a crop top with the caption “Life is too short to give into fear”. True but life is even shorter if you ignore your health.

I’m not going to tell you it’s easy to lose weight. The concept is easy, you simply need to consume less calories than you use, but once you have become obese it’s a long hard process to lose that weight. Studies have shown that once you become obese your brain sends signals to your body making you hungry even when you don’t need to eat. The human body likes to maintain a status quo and your brain will literally try to keep you fat.

And if you have other health complications like pain then the thought of exercise can be overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get healthy, you just have to maintain realistic expectations. A friend of mine in college admitted to me freshman year that she had an eating disorder. She was a compulsive eater and was around 300 lbs. When I saw her 5 years later I didn’t recognize her. She had lost around 150 lbs and was a healthy weight for her height. Losing that much weight is a serious commitment but the health benefits are worth it.

But having a positive self image isn’t a bad thing as long as you are not using it as an excuse to not take care of yourself. Having low self esteem because of your body harms you psychologically and physically. If you feel bad about yourself and feel guilty about eating you are less likely to lose weight and can spiral into depression. Life is too short to feel bad about yourself. Loving yourself not only means feeling comfortable in your body but also caring enough about yourself to take control and live a healthy lifestyle.

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