Saturday, January 30, 2016

Discussion of the Week: Is it Possible to be over or underweight and healthy?

Hello, lovelies! Happy SaturYAY to all! :D
Starting today, I'm making some changes to TFVG blog. In the past, TFVG blog has only posted recipes...but I'd like to start posting health and fitness topic discussions, workout ideas and videos, and yoga classes, taught by me (fun fact: I'm a Certified Yoga Instructor and Personal Trainer!). I'm so passionate about both recipe developing AND working out, and am finally going to combine the two on my blog. :)
So, here we go. The first ever "Discussion of the Week" on TFVG blog. Today's topic is a "weighty issue" (pun intended, hehe) for many: Is a person's health REALLY dependent on their weight? Or, as quoted in the title of this post, "It it possible to be OVER or UNDERWEIGHT AND HEALTHY?!" This has been an ongoing question for doctors and health advocates alike for many, many years. We definitely do not lack BMI charts, body fat calculators, "ideal weight" charts, etc. telling us about how much we should weigh, based on our height, age, and a couple other factors. But is this really a good indicator of a person's health? Is it possible to be over or under "your number" and actually be HEALTHIER than someone who is at their "ideal weight?" Let's dig a little deeper by looking at a case study...MY STORY.
I was a very, very sick child growing up. I was diagnosed with eczema at age 3, which I still currently suffer from. In addition, I was constantly in and out of the doctor's office with ear infections, stomach problems, strep throat, croup (whooping cough), and pneumonia. I was chronically exhausted...constantly. At age 9, my doctor told me I had asthma. When I was 13, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. When I was 16, I was told I was going blind from vision loss caused by severe migraines I had been suffering from for the past 3 years. Keep in mind, guys, I was "healthy" based on my weight and BMI. Then I went vegan (see my "About Me" page for my complete vegan transition story!): my migraines vanished, my thyroid levels regulated, my asthma went away...and I lost 30 pounds, putting me into the "underweight" category. I was, to be honest, quite concerned at were my parents. I couldn't understand how in the world I could feel better--actually BE BETTER--when I was "unhealthy," according to medical standards. And then I went to my doctor. I was pretty scared at first of what she would say when I stepped on the scale--I wanted to be healthy, but I really wanted to stay feeling as good as I did--no headaches, no thyroid craziness, etc. I did'n't want to gain weight and have all of my sickness come back! My doctor's answer completely shocked both my parents and myself. Essentially, before I went vegan and discovered my severe fat intolerance, causing my headaches, (again, refer to my "About Me") I was essentially poisoning myself daily. With every bite of food I ate, I was feeding my body with allergens that, for some reason, my body just can't digest. These allergens can come in all shapes and sizes: for some people it's dairy, for some it's gluten. Unfortunately for me, it's a LOT. My doctor explained to me that I suffer from multiple SEVERE food allergies, causing all my health problems growing up, and when I finally eliminated these toxins in my diet, I basically "DETOXED," which explained the drastic weight loss. She was (and is, still) extremely happy with my medical stats, and told me not to worry for a second about being technically "underweight"--after all, I come from a family of very tiny people!
For the first time in my life I feel good. I have energy (too much, probably...), NO headaches, and my blood work and medical tests are nothing shy of PRISTINE--flawless stats. Compared to when I was "healthy?": different thyroid reading levels every month, low Vitamin D, zinc, and calcium....and I felt like crap 24/7. The proof is there--I'm FINALLY HEALTHY...and just so happen to be underweight, too--because it IS possible to be both.
Now, let's look at the opposite side of the spectrum: can you be OVERWEIGHT AND HEALTHY?There are multiple cases of people that are technically "overweight" according to BMI, charts, etc. but have medical stats that are better than 20 year old athletes. There is even research currently being done by Harvard Medical School about the possible health benefits of carrying extra weight! It really just goes to show that our "standards" are outdated...and unrealistic.
So I'm going to end this post by asking the same question I asked when I began: "Is it possible to be over or underweight and healthy?" YES. If the evidence isn't proof enough, let me say it this way: believing you're healthy just because you fit into a chart is SO wrong. Each BODY is different--no one person in the whole wide world is like you! So why on earth would we think there's only ONE healthy weight for someone who is 5'3"? That number doesn't take into account their body structure, muscle mass, genes, body fat, you name it. It really doesn't take into account THE PERSON--just their numbers. So the bottom line? You know your body better than anyone else. You know what your ideal weight is better than anyone else, whether it's slightly over your "standard" or slightly under. I cannot stress this point enough, you guys--LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. And keep listening-we are ever evolving, and constantly learning about ourselves. We must stay open to this new knowledge and accommodate accordingly.

Until next time, lovers.
~Anna :)
"The Fit Vegan Ginger"


  1. Hi Anna - did I say something inappropriate? I didn't mean to. I just noticed my comment didn't post :( Maybe I'm just being oversensitive (something I'm working on!)

    Anyway, I want to say thanks for your blog, it has been a really big help for me. I admit, I started reading your blog for the wrong reasons (basically I was sick and trying to get sicker - awful, I know, and I'm sorry). I was scared to eat, all the time. However, after reading your blog longer, and seeing all of your huge, HEALTHY happy meals, my mind started to change. You showed me I could actually eat, and eat a lot! Without feeling guilty, or gaining a bunch of weight. You helped me learn to find joy in food, to eat in a way that makes me feel healthy and HAPPY. I feel so much better now, and my family is so happy to see me eat. Some of them are even trying the vegan meals I make! Food used to be a source of anguish for me, and now it is a source of joy. Its true, you don't need to weigh a certain amount or eat junky foods to be healthy and happy. Eating food with joy and integrity is wonderful. Thank you for spreading the message of JOY :). I think I'm going to show this post to my parents and let them see your message. Life is about health and joy, not a number on the scale.

    Lots of love :D

    1. Liz, this comment makes my heart overflow with joy. This is precisely the goal of TFVG--to prove to people that health comes in all shapes and sizes. It's okay to be different, and have a different diet. People aren't attune to "different" (which is sad, considering it's the 21st century and but we have to persevere.
      I am so glad I've helped you in some way in your journey to recovery, and that you're starting to branch out in your meals. Please feel free to email me personally if I can do anything to help more:
      God bless you, Liz. I'll keep you in my prayers as you continue to recover. Keep me updated! I'm here to help. Much love,