Let me begin this blog by declarying the obvious…I do not have a size 4 body shape and I never will. Most days I’m a proud size 6-8 (depending on the brand) with some…ready for it…cellulite on my thighs!! I do go through my own challenges with this sometimes, because there still are people out there who believe all personal trainers should be completely toned, thin and strong. I have mastered the strong attribute, but I’ll never be thin. I’m just not willing to give up my current lifestyle of enjoying 4.5 hours of workouts weekly versus 15 hours; and opting for pizza and wine some nights versus eating chicken and broccoli at every meal. Despite my size, and cellulite, I know I have a healthy body.

Weight on the scale is influenced by a ton of different factors, some are in our control and some are not. Yes, activity levels and what we eat play a big role. But so do genetics, medical conditions, medication we’re taking, stress, sleep, our age, the age of kids we may have, foods we grew up on, our job and our social life. I firmly believe this quote when it comes to thinking about body image and health:

I have made fitness such a big part of my life because I want to have the strength to live life to my maximum! A weak body isn’t going to hold me back from doing the things I love, or from trying new activities. Dancing, rock climbing, tree trekking, skiing, skating, snowmobiling, hiking and swimming are important to me. I want to be able to live independently for as long as possible; I know I need muscles and strength to do this.

What is a Healthy Body?

So if size and weight alone don’t indicate if you’re healthy or not, what does? How can you figure out if you’re really healthy?

1. You have a body that you can be active in.

If your body is holding you back from performing daily activities, or the ones that you love, it’s probably not the healthiest. Not everyone should be able to run a marathon or last for hours at the gym. However, most of us should be able to climb a few sets of stairs, walk a couple of kilometres, get up and down quite easily from the ground, and carry groceries to the far end of a parking lot without getting winded, or feeling pain the next day. I’m a firm believer in the importance of having muscle mass, so I think we should be able to perform a series of body weight exercises as well, to have a truly healthy body. If you can’t do these activities, it may be time to start focussing on your health more.

2. You have a body that isn’t sick all of the time.

We all get the occasional cold, ache or pain, but that shouldn’t be a normal state. If you’re constantly feeling exhausted, run down, sick or achy, chances are, you’re not in the healthiest condition. Simply focussing on your sleep and stress levels may get you out of the rut your in. I’ve seen practices like mediation do wonders for some of my personal training clients. Having more mental energy, often increases your physical energy simultaneously.

3. The scale isn’t swinging up and down dramatically.

If you can only stay at the weight you’re at with very restrictive dieting, or an intense exercise schedule, it’s probably not going to be manageable over the long term. When looking at body weight maintenance, it’s important to ensure you keep your muscle mass. Muscles weigh more than fat, so if you stay the same weight but lose muscles, this isn’t a good thing. If you can stick to a body weight swing of less than 15 pounds for decades, while maintaining your muscle mass, I think it’s safe to say that this is a healthy, perfect weight for you.

To Sum it up…What’s a Healthy Body?

Body size and weight alone, don’t fully indicate if you’re healthy or not. I find that looking at these three other factors help determine your health.

  1. If your body is holding you back from performing routine activities, or ones that you love, it’s probably not the healthiest.
  2. If you’re in a constant state of sickness or pain, your health isn’t the best.
  3. Frequent weight fluctuations aren’t healthy. The scale shouldn’t move much more than 15 pounds over the long-term.

I’m glad to see the world becoming more open to appreciating larger size people. We come in all shapes and sizes; we’re not all meant to be a size 4. However, it’s important to remember that muscles, strength and endurance are important for everyone, in order to maintain a long-term independent lifestyle.