07 June 2013

Healthy

In summation, I did a month of Weight Watcher's, was cranky, stressed and depressed finally quitting when I had a net gain of 2 pounds.  Did a month of Paleo, was tired, cranky, lethargic and even more depressed with a net gain of three pounds.  Needless to say it was "fuck this shit o'clock" so I quit being neurotic about my food and just focused on working out 3-4 days a week.  I gained another pound, but all my clothes fit again and I no longer feel the need to sit on the couch fighting back tears all day.  My point here is that "health" is more of a spectrum than absolutes. In my case I often need to prioritize my mental health otherwise the physical health is fairly meaningless.  For me, being healthy in the most holistic sense means I eat healthy food, get a good dose of exercise, get enough sleep and recognize that the number on the scale is just one measure of how I am doing. Would I still love to weigh less? Yes.  Am I pleased that my weight is ever so slowly creeping down as I get fitter?  You bet.  Will I let that number define my health, mental or otherwise? No.  I feel like I come to this realization annually; like every so often I need to try and fit the mold only to discover that maybe I am not stuffed into that mold for a reason. 
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I recently went to the doctor for a rash (I know, ewwww!) and the treatment is an aggressively medicated cream that you smear all over your entire body.  Fun times.  The NP I see found herself in the awkward spot of having to tell me that she would call in an extra refill for me since, though the tube should provide both applications, I am a bigger person and I might need additional medication.  Now, she was very nice about it, and I have no problem with this, I completely understand that treating the body of someone who falls outside the assigned norm provides certain challenges.  I appreciated her candor and the fact that she was treating my existing body properly for a medical condition, not treating my existing body as an inherent medical condition.  Treating patients that fall into the overweight/obese categories means you sometimes need different medicine dosages, different equipment (I need the XL blood pressure cuff to get an accurate reading) and possibly different treatment methods.  Now, in fact, the single tube was more than enough covering me twice plus allowing prophylactic treatment for my kids since, even better news, this bitch is contagious.  However, my NP did not know this.  My point here is that bigger bodies may require different medicine, but few healthcare professional have that knowledge base.  Because the "obesity epidemic" and resultant "war on obesity" has made being overweight the primary medical condition for many Americans, being treated properly for anything else is just secondary.  While I have been fortunate to generally have healthcare providers who recognize me as a healthy person who happens to be overweight vs. an overweight person who is (inexplicably) healthy.  This is however not the norm and that means that a sizable percentage of the population might be getting sub-par healthcare just because they are unable, or unwilling, to  force their bodies into a certain size.
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Being heavy doesn't make me depressed.  Enduring the protocols required to force my body into not being heavy makes me depressed.  My self-esteem is not related to my size unless I am dieting.  Ironically the process that is supposed to me making me so much healthier only serves to send my mental health into a deadly tailspin.  Being heavy doesn't make me unhealthy, it merely makes it harder for me to get decent healthcare.  Of course, all the data I can give for why you can be healthy at any size just comes across as me trying to justify my existence or lifestyle.  Maybe the real problem is just that.  Just because I fall outside the mathematically mandated norms doesn't mean I should have to validate my existence to anyone.  It is interesting to me that as we culturally become far more accepting of many forms of "other," (ethnic/racial diversity, the LGBTI acceptance, religious diversity) we still feel "safe" being sizeist.  The "war on obesity" sometimes feels like a medically mandated crusade to shun/shame anyone who is different.  Take home note: there is no moral imperative to how your body looks, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of BMI.  Me choosing to lead a healthy life at an obese BMI is in no way superior/inferior to someone choosing to lead a healthy life in any other BMI category. 

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