body image

Body Image vs. Underlying Health! | Guest Post by Lydia-Joi Marshall

We’re excited to welcome back Lydia-Joi Marshall to the Avazera Wellness Community! With the summer season starting officially in two days, now more than ever, many are placing great attention solely on body image as a marker of health. In today’s blog post, Lydia will help to clear up the confusion on which personal physical attributes reflect your underlying health.

You are Fat. Wait I mean you are Phat, in an empowering complimentary way. Correction. The new politically correct word just in, you will not conform to any restrictive body normative labels, you just ARE.

It is a disaster mine of politically correct traps to discuss weight and body image these days.  Some celebrity figures have emerged triumphant in changing our vernacular and viewpoints with their positive body image activism, but the debate still rages. As summer and swimsuit season descends up us, many of us are paying a little more attention to how we look, but there seems to be much confusion on which physical attributes reflect our underlying health.

A few indicators to consider other than the size of your thigh gap are;

1.) BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) – This scale was created to add more context to the antiquated way of looking at a person’s weight to determine if they were in a healthy range or not. It considers height, weight, and sex, which can be a starting point to get a generalized idea of body goals.  However, there are limitations to this measurement in that it does not consider muscle vs. fat distribution or content.  This index is not accurate for very athletic people, those who are not fully developed (normally young adults under the age of 18) or pregnant women.

2.) GLUCOSE –  This type of sugar runs the world, or at least our bodies. We crave it and will do unspeakable acts to attain it (see my last blog, this is a bit of a sore point for me). Since glucose is so critical to proper body functioning, a chronic imbalance of glucose can result in many very severe health problems.  Asides from causing feeninsh behaviour, in excess it can also cause loss of vision, poor circulation, nerve damage kidney failure, stroke, and heart attack.

3.) HYPERTENSION AND HIGH CHOLESTEROL – Although disease and medications can cause both, there is a growing portion of our society that suffers from one or both of these because they are not physically active enough or they have a poor diet. Hypertension and high cholesterol can cause blood vessels to clog or can interfere with circulation. The effects of this killer combo can be seen in people of all curvatures. This is not the romantic type of heart stopper!

4.) LIVER FUNCTION – The ancient Greeks believed that the liver held the seat of our emotion and connection to God, they may not have been so far off. From a practical sense, the liver is what detoxifies the body, distributes the deity glucose, produces and stores fat, regulates our cholesterol and is one of the few organs that can regenerate itself.  Given all these tasks, having a clinical reading of your liver function may be a much more accurate sign of your overall prognosis.

5.) GENETICS – Now I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t state that the most important indicator of your health is your genes! There are some conditions, and normal phenotypic (how genes are expressed in the body) ranges that you either directly inherit or are predisposed to. However, this does not mean that we do not have control over many aspects of our health through our habits and our environment.  For example, even if most people in your family are curvaceous, this does not mean excess curves are in your destiny. Even if you inherit a certain number of fat cells, how they are expressed and shaped are entirely determined by how you work them. Genes are the clay of your body, but you are the moulder.

The truth is, some people appear to be slim but are very sick internally. Conversely, there are some who appear outside of these norms but do not exhibit any poor indicators of health.  What is important is that everyone has an accurate understanding and picture of where they stand. This can be done by visiting your health care provider and having an honest discussion to evaluate risk factors.  A combination of indicators influences our quality of life and our risk factors of having an adverse health event. So whether you wear skinny jeans or ride those maximum curves, the look that matters is your internal one.

Lydia-Joi Marshall

Lydia Joi Marshall
Lydia-Joi is a genetic researcher, community advocate and new urban mother of one healthy little boy. All roles allow her to explore her creative and problem solving sides, while maintaining a healthy sense of humour about her limitations. As a citizen of the world who resides in the Toronto area, she draws on her academic and personal experiences to spark conversation about everyday total wellness.
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