Healthy obesity sounds like an oxymoron. How can one be considered healthy and obese at the same time? It is simply impossible to live in such dissenting and extreme lifestyles at the same time. Or is it?

Technically, it is possible to be obese yet remain healthy according to medical standards. Individuals might not show any signs or symptoms of metabolic side effects such as increased cholesterol, high blood pressure, circulation problems, joint pains, asthma and sleep apnea, migraines, but the risk is still there.

If one is healthy on paper, but physically overweight, how might she or he be convinced to change established patterns of living? Some ways of broadening one’s mindset may include learning about the threats, signs and symptoms, and causes and effects of heart disease, and learning that heart disease does not discriminate (it kills 210 people daily in South Africa, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or genetic health history).

Some ways of living more healthily include increasing exercise to at least 30 minutes a day, lowering salt and saturated fat intake, reducing stress which can lead to weight gain, and learning the balance between healthy thinking and healthy living.

But how might one be convinced to implement these healthy living techniques?

Some incentives within the media realm, especially social media, to live a healthy lifestyle, although short-lived and ever-changing are fads and trends like the body positivity movement, or BoPo. This movement aims to increase diversity primarily in the fashion world when it comes to advertising the human form, specifically female.  This industry’s goal is to bolster mental health, decrease body shaming, reinvent beauty and health standards, and strengthen women’s senses of individuality. The BoPo campaign aims to encourage treating one’s body properly, exercising to feel good, and seeing food as fuel, rather than focusing on looks alone for gratification.

Another area where lifestyles are encouraged is politically correct speech, and the impact it has on general society. This area focuses more on mental aspect of healthy living, which is just as important as the physical. The term ‘fat’ has been a taboo for years, so when people associate their physical forms with the negative connotations of the word, their mental state declines. Enter the BoPo campaign. People have been recently aiming to shift schools of thought to view obesity as acceptable in society. The goal of this exhibition is not to necessarily make being overweight a positive thing, but to no longer see it as negative. Body positive influencers’ goals are to eliminate the stigma associated with ‘fat.’ It is a thing that all humans have and need.

An occasional pizza, burger, or shake is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged, when it is kept in balance with healthy dietary levels. Knowing how to listen to your body in terms of exercise versus rest is smart, but also you must know when your body truly needs sleep and when you must push yourself because your brain simply feels lazy.

One does not have to be a fitness model to live a full life, but there is no such thing as “healthy” obesity. Balance in food and fitness will result in each individual body’s healthy weight, which will look different for each person Finding this happy medium will require leaving the comfort zone, but the risk will be worth it. Even small changes from day-to-day will make a significant impact on one’s health, both inside and out.