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Health Comes in All Sizes | July 20, 2011

We live in a society that rejects any body shape or size that doesn’t match an impossible ideal, but is there really an ideal?  Tuning into your own bodies, focusing on health, and finding your own personal fitness level is the key to lifelong wellness. 


This past weekend I observed fit people of all sizes competing in the first Hayden Triathlon, and I was humbled.  What a wonderfully organized event and a great venue for those of us inspired to complete our first triathlon.


Fitness is not a “one size fits all.”  The idea of participating in a triathlon may sound out of reach for those without a typical athlete’s sleek muscular build, but athletes, too, come in all shapes and sizes.  Just because someone’s physique doesn’t conform to the stereotypical athletic build, does not mean they should be discouraged from competing in events, nor does it mean that they are not fit.  It’s actually quite the contrary.


Dave Alexander (not to be confused with Craig Alexander, Ironman World Champion), is one of my heroes.  Dave is 5-foot-8, weighs 260 pounds and estimates he has finished 276 triathlons since 1983.  He has been followed for years at the Cooper Institute in Texas and he is fit.  Dave has low cholesterol, low triglycerides, high HDL’s, low blood pressure, and yet by all accounts he is obese.


The concept of Health at Every Size is a premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body.  That means adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).  The rules to honoring your body are quite simple.


First, accept and respect the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.  That is what makes humans unique – ectomorphs, endomorphs and mesomorphs.  A world without diversity is a boring world.


Second, eat in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honor internal cues of hunger, satiety and appetite.


Third, eat for wellness NOT for weight – choose nutrient rich foods because they make you feel good!


And, last but not least, find the joy that comes from moving one’s own body and becoming more physically active.  These rules are not only beneficial for one’s own health, but also beneficial for modeling the behavior that we would like our children to adopt.


Triathlons inspire, encourage and prove that with a little training, almost everybody can have a great time and reap huge rewards from pursuing their tri dreams – and that everyone can become a participant and an athlete.  So, whatever your size or shape, YOU can become a tri-athlete.


Take advantage of North Idaho’s numerous opportunities to participate in these fulfilling events.  No other sport takes advantage of the beautiful northwest:  swimming, biking and running.


Upcoming triathlon events include:


  • Riverstone sprint triathlon in Coeur d'Alene Sunday July 24
  • Coeur d'Alene Olympic triathlon in Coeur d'Alene Saturday August 13
  • Priest Lake sprint triathlon in Priest Lake Saturday August 27


On a final note, that you Kip, for being my swimming buddy, and encouraging me to keep going through that difficult swim, the rest was a piece of cake!