Plus Size Health and Wellness
Can plus size and health & wellness go hand in hand?
Had you asked me several years ago I would have adamantly told you “NO, it's not possible to be plus size and healthy”!
I grew up being taught that thin was healthy (and beautiful, acceptable, and the only way to find love, to be able to travel… on and on the list goes) and fat was unhealthy, unlovable, and unacceptable. Goodness, the issues this caused in my life because of the never-ending need to achieve thinness no matter the cost. I took several trips to the ER because diet pills caused reactions and racing heart/heart attack symptoms. But probably the most significant cost? The eating disorder I developed – binging & purging (bulimia).
Finally, at 47 I'm getting therapy to work through childhood (and adult) trauma that was the root of the eating disorder and to learn how to recover from it but most importantly, to have a healthy relationship with food! But it was hard not to believe and live life viewing things through that lens because that messaging came (and still comes) at me every day from all sorts of outlets – friends, family, professionals, marketing materials, the diet industry, magazines, strangers… on and on the list goes.
My thoughts have changed drastically and no, not just because I'm FAT! These beliefs have changed because of all the research I've done as well as numerous conversations with my doctor and now eating disorder therapist. I've also read several books that helped change my thoughts – This is the #1 book that caused so much intense emotion and anger within me but ultimately was the book that helped change a lot of my beliefs!
Here are 3 beliefs I challenged & changed my thoughts about:
1. Thinner does not = healthier!
This is such a crap belief but one that it seems most everybody believes.
I mean hello look at the diet industry – it brought in $72.6 BILLION dollars in 2021!
2. Dieting/losing weight is good for me.
The more conversations with my doctor (and now the eating disorder therapist) and the more research I did I was shocked at some of the things discovered. And yet I wasn't because of all my yo-yo dieting over the years. To learn that not only did dieting not make me thinner (at least not long term) but dieting and weight cycling were making me unhealthier was a huge eye-opener.
3. People of all sizes can be healthy.
This was probably the hardest belief to challenge/change but learning about Health At Every Size (HAES) made it easier to understand and embrace this concept. Everything about it made so much sense.
After challenging those beliefs, it was time to take some radical steps:
- Ditch diet culture bullshit and become a diet school dropout!
- Stop getting weighed at the doctor's office (the fight I had to put up about this each time I went to my old doctor's office was ridiculous! The new doctor I started seeing in January does not weigh per my request & it was awesome but shocking to not receive any pushback about it!)
- Start reading & researching Intuitive Eating. (This is still a struggle & something my eating disorder therapist & I work on because it's part of my journey of recovering from the eating disorder & learning to have a healthy relationship with food.)
Ready to hear something crazy???
- I've LOST weight! Yep, you read that right! Ever since taking those 3 steps above plus switching to a naturopath doctor (in January) and now working with a therapist for the eating disorder, I've lost weight (I don't know how much and don't care because weight loss is no longer something I seek or make a goal of – I only know I have because of needing smaller clothes).
- My blood pressure is lower than it's been in a long time! The naturopath doctor and I are working towards getting me off meds completely. Currently, the dosage is down to 20mg (from the previous 40mg)!
Interesting isn't it? Yep, put that in your pipe and smoke it… 🤣 I say that with tongue-in-cheek humor because I rolled my eyes when reading about this concept… only to now be experiencing it first hand!
But when it comes to plus size health and wellness there's also a lot of pushback from people too like when I shared an Instagram post back in January. I received several inbox messages about this – one person was convinced I was delusional in thinking I could be fat and focus on my wellness. Another person was trying to sell me some supplements that she was a promoter of that MLM business (of course someone would slide into my DM's trying to promote weight loss/dieting). And another person said I was a part of the problem (the body positivity problem – that's a story for a different day, though).
Plus Size Health and Wellness: Facebook Live Video
(You can fast-forward to 3:00 to get into the message and end at 11:26 to skip the closing out of the live 🙂 )
If you're plus-size and looking to improve your health and wellbeing, here are some tips to get you started:
Get enough sleep every night – most adults need around eight hours of sleep per night.
Eat a balanced diet – this one can get tricky because a balanced diet can mean something different to everybody. For me personally and where I'm at in my eating disorder therapy and wellness journey, it's about leaning into more of the intuitive eating and listening to my body, and that even means if I want the things people label as “junk food” or “bad” food, I eat it… but listening to my body also means being present in the moment as I'm eating and learning to stop when I'm full (and that goes for whether I'm eating the “junk” or the more nutritious choices!).
Move your body – find a form of exercise that you enjoy and it feels good moving your body like that! Whether it's swimming, walking, yoga or something else entirely, regular movement of your body is a huge part of your overall health and wellbeing! Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week. Taking a brisk walk is a great way to get started.
Find a HAES provider – I know from personal experience, and numerous conversations I've had, how horrible doctors and other professionals can be with fat shaming. Finding health professionals that follow a health at every size approach can make all the difference in ensuring you get the proper care you need and DESERVE!
Do something every day you enjoy – take some time each day, even if it's just 10 minutes, to do something that makes you happy. This could be reading your favorite book, taking a long bath, going for a walk in nature, or anything else that brings you joy.
Take care of your mental health – plus-size people often face discrimination and body shaming, which can lead to low self-esteem and depression. If you are feeling down, talk to a friend or family member, or seek professional help if needed. Remember, you are worthy of love and respect, no matter what your size!
Journal – journaling can be so enlightening and therapeutic! It's a way to get things out of your head and for me, sometimes that's all I need (to just word vomit all over the page to get everything that's taking up mental space out of there!). I've been journaling for years and from time to time I still pull out a couple of my journals from 10 years ago when I first got sober!
And I'll leave you with this…
Just remember to take things one step at a time and be gentle with yourself.
You deserve to feel happy, healthy, and loved… yes, even as a plus-size person!!!