“Health” and Meaning: What Are We Saying?

I think if I hear anyone mention “health” when talking about weight again, my ears will start bleeding.

That’s what everyone says, isn’t it? Don’t lose weight to be skinny, lose weight to be healthy. Or, don’t worry about losing weight, just be healthy!

What does that even mean??

I think perhaps in the drive to be politically correct about not saying the “F” word (fat) and trying to avoid promoting eating disorders we’ve lost sight of what health really is. Is health something measured by doctors, in terms of blood pressure, pulse, and lab work? Is it a balance between your weight and height and how much you eat and exercise? Or is it something less tangible, less definable, something individual to each person?

I remember a time during my eating disorder when I thought “health” was a four-letter word. I thought “healthy” equaled “fat” and anytime someone told me I looked healthier I dove right back into being sick. Years later and post-eating disorder, I sincerely value my health. I no longer define the word in terms of weight. To me, health is a state of peace; a state where my mind is not at war with my body; where I can tolerate emotions without using symptoms; where my spirit is present in my body; where my Self is present and engaged with life and other people and experiences.

This is what health means to me. What does it mean to you?

© Sarah Henderson 2010

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About writingforrecovery

Sarah is a writer and poet who speaks out about issues that make people uncomfortable. Sarah advocates for causes such a sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and mental illness, and often speaks openly about her own experiences. She is determined to abolish the stigma associated with these issues and believes that it starts with people telling their stories, so she started a blog called Writing for Recovery where people can do just that. She is the author of three volumes of poetry and is currently at work on her fourth. She is convinced that there's a novel somewhere in her, and occasionally picks at the chapters so far. View all posts by writingforrecovery

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