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Yes, it’s possible to be overweight and healthy. Get the facts around weight and health, and understand the principles of ‘health at every size’. Get tips on how to feel better about yourself, live life to the full, and not let your feelings about your body hold you back.

This can help if:

  • you’re worried that your weight may affect your health
  • you want to know more about weight and health
  • you want to know about ‘health at every size’.
Girl smiling in countryside

There’s nothing wrong with being overweight

Does this statement wrinkle your brain? Well, it’s not surprising. We receive the message that ‘overweight = bad’ loudly and clearly every day, whether implicitly, through a lack of positive fat characters in TV shows, or explicitly, through negative messages from the diet industry.

Dieting doesn’t always equal weight loss

Only a tiny percentage of people who diet maintain their weight loss even if they maintain the diet. This is a problem, because weight cycling (repeatedly losing and regaining weight) can put serious strain on the body. Check out more info on dangerous dieting at the NEDC website.

You can’t figure out how healthy someone is by looking at them

It’s possible for someone to be overweight and healthy, just as it’s possible for someone to be thin and unhealthy. Good health is a result of our behaviours. Eating well, exercising and having a positive outlook is good for all of us, regardless of our size.

The philosophy behind ‘health at every size’

‘Health at every size’ recognises that healthy living and personal wellbeing are what’s important, not weight control. The following are the keys to living a good, healthy life.

Accept other people’s bodies as well as your own

Recognise that we all come in different shapes and sizes, and that all people are inherently valuable regardless of the way they look. Once you stop criticising other people’s bodies, you’ll find it much easier to accept your own.

Don’t worry about your weight or clothing size

Appreciate the body you have, be thankful for everything it’s capable of, and feel excited by its potential. It’s much easier to take care of your wellbeing when you think about yourself positively.

Trust yourself

Some people believe that if they stop dieting and counting calories, they’ll snap and stuff their face with cake all day long. But our bodies are invested in keeping us alive; even if you did try to eat cake for every meal, after a day or two you’d have a hardcore craving for some vegetables.

  • Eat when you’re hungry.
  • Eat slowly, and really taste your food.
  • Stop eating when you start to feel full.
  • Keep food interesting by eating a variety of things.
  • Give new, healthy foods a chance.

Find a form of movement that you enjoy

Just as controlling what you eat just to lose weight takes the fun out of eating, exercising out of obligation is a massive drag. Find an exercise that makes you feel good. Take your dog for a walk, ride your bike somewhere new or go out dancing. Pro tip: jump rope and games of bullrush never stop being fun!

Don’t let your body hold you back

Here’s a revolutionary message: have fun, eat good food and be happy. That goes for everyone, big or small. When you think about it, it’s crazy that our physical appearance is held in such high regard when it’s so boring compared to the myriad ways that make us awesome.

What can I do now?

  • Organise an outing with your friends to try a new type of food together.
  • Schedule into your week some types of exercise that you actually enjoy.
  • Check out ReachOut Forums - a supportive space to hear from other young people dealing with issues regarding their body image.