When Healthy Isn’t Good Enough
My doctor looked at me with a big smile on her face and declared, “It’s all normal. Your blood work looks great!”
Surprising myself, I felt my face drop as I looked at her and almost begged, “Are you sure? Totally normal?”
I felt disappointment course through me even as I knew that I should be celebrating my health.
Here I am, a body positive and weight neutral fitness coach, advocating the Health At Every Size approach to life, and yet, years of misinformed education and unrealistic messaging had taken up residence in my psyche at that moment.
Let me give you some context.
The Gentleman Who Won’t Date Me
I had recently had a conversation with a gentleman who had informed me that he would date me if I were thin. This is someone whom I know well and could potentially see myself dating, and that hurt.
He explained that a close relative of his was super overweight and it pained him to watch her suffer through her life as a result. His words, not mine.
Obviously, I can’t erase people’s experiences, nor can I rewrite them if they’re not willing to turn to a new page. But it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when I know that correlation is not causation and that her experience doesn’t dictate mine.
At the same time, in the back of my head, I knew that I had taken a blood panel and was waiting for the results. I began to hope that perhaps there would be something in there to work with. And by work with, I mean, something that could reopen that conversation.
I figured that if my thyroid levels were off, I’d simply get a prescription, pop some pills that’ll boost my metabolism, and voila, I’d lose weight. (That’s not quite how it works, I get that… but I wasn’t thinking logically.)
Alternatively, perhaps if my blood sugar levels were out of whack, I’d be diagnosed with diabetes, learn how to use an insulin pump, and then at least I could definitively say ‘this is the issue, and this is how we can address it.’
Either options would call for a conversation.
We’d be dealing with the known rather than the unknown.
So here I was low key praying that there would be some sort of concern that would pop up, instead of appreciating the health that G-d has blessed me with.
And unfortunately, I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.
Before I venture further, I’d like to make one thing clear: These men aren’t just “jerks.” They aren’t malicious, nor are they trying to be insensitive on purpose. Saying things like “he’s not good enough for you” or “you deserve someone better than that” isn’t really helpful.
Because sometimes he truly is good enough. Or he does deserve an incredible woman.
Sometimes, he’s just lacking accurate information.
So with that, I’d like to use my experience to offer you some words of wisdom.
Reframing that Mindset
This one is in particular for men who are currently on the dating scene (and moms of dating guys who are involved in the shidduch process):
There are many men who won’t date women who aren’t thin, and they can typically be divided into two categories.
Category #1: Those of you who are not attracted to women who aren’t thin.
My thoughts: That’s totally cool! Attraction is super important and if you simply don’t find yourself attracted to women who are bigger, that’s ok.
If you know that attraction sometimes grows on you as you get to know a woman, give yourself permission to explore it.
But if you’re not, and you just don’t see yourself ever being attracted to anyone who’s not thin, there’s no shame in that.
Category #2: Those of you who are attracted to women of different sizes, but won’t let yourself date a bigger woman because of potential health issues.
My thoughts: I hear your thought process… and I appreciate why you might feel this way… but despite what you may have been told, the reality is that there isn’t much scientific validity behind your concern.
Let’s look at the thin woman for a second –
She may have endometriosis, an eating disorder or diabetes. All of which you would never know (prior to actually discussing health with her) because they don’t show on the outside.
She could also be perfectly healthy and be diagnosed with PCOS a few months after she gets married. (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that that affects the overall health of 1 in 10 women and can cause struggles with infertility.)
Or she may remain totally healthy for the rest of her life.
Here’s the thing: All of the above applies to women who are thin AND fat.
If you’ve watched a fat woman in your life struggle with health issues and therefore vowed to avoid that for yourself, I challenge you to consider whether she led a healthy lifestyle?
Did she maintain healthy habits on a regular basis?
Her actions are a far greater way to gauge her health than her weight is.
A fat woman who maintains a healthy lifestyle may be far healthier and may deal with fewer health issues than a thin woman who doesn’t make healthy choices.
Weight doesn’t indicate health the way we have been led to believe. I encourage you to have a look at the research for yourself and have dropped a few links below for your convenience.
Journals Articles/Blog Posts:
Health At Every Size (Part I)
Is the HAES Approach Useful for Addressing Obesity?
Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Mortality in Overweight and Obese Individuals
I’m Fat. And I’m Not Proud of It by Yours Truly
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out via social media or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.