Taking the Numbers out of Health

Views around health have started to take a change for the better with "Health at Every Size." For as long as I have known health has been defined as a number, typically weight or BMI. Why? Because that is an easy number, it's checked frequently. But since when did easy become the right choice? Numbers are not always accurate depictions of health, but rather one component of a full assessment. A higher weight does not always equate to worse health and a lower weight does not always equate to better health. Numbers create stigmas which can be inaccurate. Numbers can be triggering for people who have struggled with disordered eating. And why? Numbers are just numbers. They don't factor in your habits or genetics. But society has made it so that numbers define people. Something has to change.

In Spain eating all the croquettes, tortilla espanola, and churros. No shame or regrets.

Tuesday I went to the gym I recently joined for a complimentary meeting with a personal trainer. I was a little nervous because I knew she was going to assess my body fat percentage and numbers can be a trigger for me. I was told not to eat 4 hours before my appointment which was at 10am. Therefore, I woke up at 5:45 and ate a quick breakfast of peanut butter oatmeal in my bed before falling back asleep (I had the day off). The trainer said most people don't eat until after the appointment, yeah no I don't do that. You don't want to see me not eat until lunch time...

Sunbathing in Turks and Caicos drinking all the sangria. 

I appreciated that the trainer focused on my goals and my lifestyle. I also appreciated that she did not try to give me any nutritional advice. Then it was the moment for me to step on the machine...I forget the name. First it told me my weight. Which is higher than it's been since high school (not counting when I studied abroad). Did that bother me? Not so much and I was surprise. But I acknowledge that this new weight and this new body is where my body is supposed to be at this point in my life. Six months ago I got a new job and moved to a new city. Some days I struggle with adjusting to all of the changes that have happened to me within the last year. Some days I just don't feel like myself. This body is tired from working and learning and commuting. This body is tired of change and adjustments. This body just needs to be, there's nothing about it that needs to change. Perhaps when I feel more settled and comfortable my body will adjust again. Who knows.

Relishing in sun and sand after graduating. This is my graduation body. I'm proud of it.

Then the machine told me my body fat percentage. I had not idea what to expect. I figured it wouldn't be great. I mean over the summer I barely exercised. I have been eating out more and cooking less. I have been drinking more wine. For all of these things I knew that my body fat percentage wouldn't be ideal. Turns out I'm right on the upper boarder of ideal. Did this bother me? Not really. I know I want to make some changes to my workout routine, but not drastic ones. And my goals do not stem from wanting to change my body shape or size. They stem from wanting to feel energized and excited about working out. I want to feel a part of a community and right now that community is a welcoming neighborhood gym.

A number is just a number. It doesn't define you. It doesn't factor in your habits or genetics. It's arbitrary. Remember that the next time you step on the scale or begin to make assumptions about someone based on their size.