In a recent article by the New York Times the wellness industry was accused of "seducing women" with false claims of health, but in reality only creating an ever increasing focus on weight. I couldn't help but stop and consider: is wellness just another fancy name for weight loss? Do all paths of wellness lead us back to the scale? It's a sobering thought. In a time when body positivity is on the rise and intuitive eating takes center stage it's clear that women are fed up with obsessing over calories.
What are Health & Wellness?
When considering these questions it's important to differentiate between health & wellness. Health refers to the state of our physical bodies. If your body is free of disease and generally functions as it's supposed to then it's considered healthy. Wellness, on the other hand, is the unique junction between mental, physical, spiritual and relational health. Wellness refers to your life as a whole. Health asks if you're functional, but wellness asks if you're thriving.
When considering the differences between health & wellness it's easy to see how weight loss get's caught up in the mix. Weight loss is often necessary for optimal health. Carrying too much fat puts stress on our joints. An unhealthy BMI can be an indicator for heart disease or stroke. However, wellness looks beyond medical risk and considers quality of life. Certainly weight can be a component of this-particularly if your weight is causing you discomfort- but it's only one small part.
does wellness encourage weight loss?
So, is the health & wellness industry at fault for our obsession with weight loss? I say no. Weight loss is an industry all its own. Health and wellness both encourage weight loss at times and often weight loss is a natural perk of building a lifestyle around wellness. However, our culture's obsession with skinny runs much deeper than health. Our standards of beauty glorify a slender form. Thin women are featured in every magazine and television show. Only recently has popular culture begun slowly shifting its ideals.
There is no one culprit for the skinny obsession that women face. It's important that every industry begin turning their focus toward quality of life and optimal mental health. Physical health is vital. Doctors spend years of their lives training to understand and treat the nuances of the human body. That being said, anyone who has spent time at a hospital knows that it isn't a place to recover full wellness.
Are you more interested in wellness or weight loss? Are you sabotaging your happiness by focussing too intensely on the scale? It's worth considering that maybe losing that extra five or ten pounds just isn't worth the stress.