THE BLOG

What Number Really Defines a Healthy Woman?

09/09/2014 15:04 BST | Updated 08/11/2014 10:59 GMT

What do your numbers say about you, about your health?

It seems everybody has a view on what a healthy woman looks like these days.

Being a therapist who works in the world of women's weight loss and wellness every so often, I am sometimes very politely asked to comment on the principle of 'practicing what I preach'.

You see the thing is that I'm no stick insect, nor am I an avid gym bunny. I'm not a svelte size 10, I'm actually a curvy UK size 14... if you must know.

But here's the thing, I don't advocate that women conform to a size or weight that someone else thinks that they should be. Who decides what is a healthy weight for women?

The number on the scale or on the tag on my dress does not define who I am as a woman.

I have worked with many women for whom the number on the scale dictates not only their mood for the day but how they feel about themselves as women, wives, girlfriends, mothers etc etc. The movement to the wrong side of that scale even by one small notch can spell disaster, failure and guilt.

If a number must define me then there are lots more numbers that I would choose to focus on...

Lets start with 24, the age I was when I left Ireland to see what the wider world had to offer.

5,895, is a favourite number of mine as it's the height of Kilimanjaro which I climbed two years ago.

3 is the number of beautiful godchildren I have been blessed with in my life.

Or how's about 160 - the number of minutes it took me to run my fastest half marathon.

18 is the number of handbags I own... (I'm not even going to share the number for the shoe collection, but let's just say it's another number that makes me smile ☺)

The point is that these are the numbers I choose to measure my own life by. The numbers that really make me happy, numbers that have something significant to say about my life and the woman that I am. The numbers which impact my mental and emotional health as well as my physical body. My weight and dress size just doesn't figure as a marker of satisfaction or achievement in my life.

Now to be clear, that is not to say that I advocate obesity, or would choose for myself to be larger than I am today, far from it. I am a huge advocate for being healthy, fit and active every day. I do adopt a healthy lifestyle. My body is curvy, but it is also strong and at times fast. I want women to choose the body and fitness that is right for them, a choice that makes them truly happy.

Sitting home alone "enjoying" a family size pizza but at the same time wishing and wanting things to be different, willing yourself to shrink overnight, hating yourself for every mouthful of food that you eat. Or spending years Yo-Yo dieting in the hope that one day it will stick. I don't believe that's a healthy or happy choice to make.

So I make a stand for women everywhere to not be dictated to by society that the number on the scale or clothing is a defining one.

Numbers are an important indicator of progress but no single number gives you a full picture of health.

If you are on a journey to achieve the body, health and fitness that you want then it is sensible to have a range of numbers to guide you... yes the number on the scales can be one, but so should the circumference of your waist, your blood pressure, your resting heart rate, your cholesterol, the number of steps you take each day and the number of hours sleep you regularly get. These numbers combined give you a much better indicator of overall health and when these numbers are improving, then guess what, the number on the scale starts to move in the right direction too.

So perhaps its time to let go of the one "big" number that society has dumped on us women as our defining number and instead choose for yourself the numbers that you want to define you as a woman.

I promise you will be a lot happier and healthier as a result.

I would love to hear your views on what your numbers say about you! And if you like this blog, please share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.