A quick word (rant) about health.
I am obese.
I know this because I have giant mirrors in one of the classrooms where I teach, but also because last year when I logged into the patient portal for one of my doctors to double check her instructions, I saw this: “counseled patient on dangers of obesity.”
Except that she didn’t.
Didn’t say a word to me about my weight or my health. I saw her for a problem with my voice–which she diagnosed and has been wonderful about–but I’ve seen her three times in the past year and she’s never said anything to me about my weight and how it’s apparently killing me.
I’ve made peace with the fact that I am never going to have a body like the starlet du jour. I bake too often and like chocolate too much, and at this point, I feel that life is too short to try and bend my body to society’s will.
But I am concerned about overall wellbeing and health. I want to have energy to do everything I need to during the day. I want my sleep to be deep and restful. I want my mind to be clear.
So two years ago, I started eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast. One year ago, I started Jazzercise. Four months ago, I doubled my daily protein intake (and holy cow, what a difference that has made!).
These were each small, easy changes that haven’t made me feel like the world is ending, and each of those changes has been 100% sustainable.
Friday I had a doctor’s appointment, and she did a full workup. Because I know I’m medically obese and middle-aged, I was prepared for all manner of high blood pressure and cholesterol medications, as well as admonishments to never again make Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Sheet Cake.
The nurse called today with the results. Every single test came back smack in the middle of every “normal” range. Glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol (and all its subsets)–all 100% normal.
I will probably always be medically obese. But after hearing all those test results, I remembered that there’s more to health than Body Mass Index. The rare mornings I don’t have oatmeal for breakfast, I can tell my brain is a little off the rest of the day. When I make it through a particularly tough Jazzercise song, I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment, though it is probably time to bump up the weights. And when I’m not absolutely starving throughout the day, I know I’ve put the right things in my body for me to be most effective.
One of my favorite websites, Beauty Redefined, reminds me that my body is an instrument, not an ornament. And apparently, I’m tuned up just fine.
If you look in the mirror and are unhappy with what you see, I get it. But look at other health metrics. And if you need to make some changes, start small, work with a doctor if need be, and recognize the smaller victories like waking up rested or lowering blood pressure or making it from breakfast to mid-morning snack without feeling ravenous. Those small indicators are just as important markers of health–I would argue more important–than any number on the scale.