There is a growing movement around body positivity in our culture but just as much as it's a good thing it also has a potential downside. This is only because (like most things) everyone needs to be on the same page with the terms we use. What does it mean to be positive about our bodies? What does it mean to be healthy?
For far too many years women have been encouraged to look a certain way. I still hear comments from people all the time about how someone needs to lose weight or needs to join our gym because "they could use it" but the only thing they know about that person is what they look like. Those sorts of comments have led many women to think less of themselves and develop seriously unhealthy habits in an attempt to transform into an arbitrary body type.
That is not ok!
No one should ever be made to feel less than. Every person has value and should be loved and accepted as they are. And I think that is what the whole body positivity movement is all about and we support those ideas 100%! In that, my opinion of the "health" people are talking about is a mental health and positive self-regard. The inherent problem is when we forget that mental health and physical health are not the same things. Nor are the defined in the same way. We have to define terms.
- We define health as a combination of fitness as well as markers usually seen in blood work.
- We define fitness as the capacity your body has to perform work over time.
- We define work as moving something (body or external object).
With those terms defined we can think about how that might play out.
So a simple example would be how many push-ups can you do in 2 minutes. This would give us the results of your capacity to push your body weight up and down off the floor for two minutes. A completely objective measurement of a small aspect of fitness. Put enough of these "tests" together and we get a really good look at your fitness.
If a major part of your "health" is your work capacity then for us to be truly healthy we need to be pursuing improved work capacity. If you're currently unable to improve your work capacity any more because of excess body weight then there is a problem with your health. I did not say there was anything wrong with the way you look. You're beautiful. But we're not talking about looks. We're talking about health and for us health is performance.
We don't encourage people to lose weight in order to look a certain way. We don't teach people how to eat so that they can have 6-pack abs and we don't train with high intensity to punish our bodies. We eat the way we do and train the way we do because we want to be truly healthy and be a high performance machine.
These aren't arbitrary standards, these are objective data points that clearly show us your fitness, and we know if we do all the things to chase down as much performance as we can that we will be healthy. All the things include more than just working out. They include nutrition, rest, relationships, mental health, mobility work, etc.
The body positivity movement is good. We're on board but we also know that it isn't the whole picture. We welcome everyone just as they are and don't care what you look like but we will push you to make positive changes that will impact your overall health and performance.