What is Wellness?

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The existing movement known as Health At Every Size is inspirational to many and controversial to those who vehemently deny that overweight or obese people can be healthy. Both sides of the discussion make excellent points and can provide scientific evidence to support their beliefs. But wellness is not the same as health. In calling my blog Well At Any Size I am explicitly not suggesting that fat is healthy but rather that individuals can face towards wellness no matter where they are at this point in time. My much revered teacher (one of them) Professor Jack Travis illustrates this with his Wellness Continuum. The idea that a person who is wheelchair bound can experience high level wellness should come as no surprise. In my work with cancer survivors there is growing acceptance that you can be well even when diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness. The same applies to different body shapes and sizes. Yes there’s some proof that abdominal fat and certainly visceral fat is a health risk but having one physical measure of health out of whack does not negate the entirety of a person’s wellness potential. Just as the jogger in Jack’s diagram is heading away from wellness, so too can people who neglect all the mental, emotional, social and spiritual dimensions of wellbeing, even if they are in excellent physical health. During my Masters degree I have taken a bunch of Wellness Assessments and always scored highly, however some HRA’s (Health Risk Appraisals) emphasise BMI/weight and therefore put me at risk of heart disease, diabetes and due to my family history, cancer. My point is that whether or not someone has a disease that fits a diagnostic criteria, or has high risk for a disease, their actions, thoughts and feelings can lead them towards ill health or towards wellness.  And just like the wellness programs for cancer, my chosen lifestyle interventions are not aimed at treating the physical disease but rather at increasing subjective wellbeing amongst other measures. If in that process of living well, the disease also goes into remission, fantastic, but that is not the main aim. I choose wellness.

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About wellatanysize

Yoga teacher, yoga student, naturopath, mama, lecturer, some time writer, now blogger, I am interested in all things wellness. Currently on summer break before my last semester of Master of Wellness at RMIT, I'm writing this blog to share my ideas about living well no matter what size you are. It's an expansion of the Healthy At Every Size concept to include the whole gamut of mind body wellness.

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