How to be body positive and maintain a healthy heart

People come in different shapes and sizes. Photo by Malina T. Murray

In recent years the body positivity trend has become increasingly popular and many people are becoming more confident in their different shapes and sizes. While there are differences in what the term “body positive” means, most can agree that it is important to maintain good heart health while being confident in your body.

Body positivity is defined in different ways. Zahria Thomas, a freshman at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa expressed what her definition of the trend is.

“The term body positivity means that you love your body regardless of societal views,” Thomas said.

Freshman broadcast journalism student at Florida A&M University, Beyla Walker, had a similar definition on what it means to be body positive, but she feels that the original message of the body positivity trend has been lost.

“The trend is a beautiful thing,” said Walker.  “We have come a long way as a society when it comes to accepting the fact that people come in different shapes and sizes. Although this trend has had a positive impact on people all across the world, I believe the original message has been misconstrued.”

To elaborate on this point Walker used the artist, Lizzo, as an example. She commends her for her level of confidence, but feels as though there is a fine line between promoting confidence and promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.

“Everyone is not going to look the same, however, we should all try to be our healthiest selves,” Walker expressed.

Thomas had a similar opinion about the body positivity trend and explained, “Body positivity correlates to nourishing your body and if you aren’t concerned about your health physically, then that’s just not good.”

It seems that many people can agree that it is good to be body positive, but not at the cost of your health. Laurie Abbott, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at Florida State University, gave her input about the health aspect of the body positivity trend as it pertains to heart disease.

Weight and body composition are closely related to heart health. The heart is one of the most important organs in the body, and Abbott explained that obesity is a widely recognized risk factor for heart disease.

Abbott agreed with Thomas’ and Walker’s points about health.

“Although it is important for all of us to love ourselves for who we are, loving ourselves also encompasses being the best we can and taking care of our bodies by avoiding disease risk,” said Abbott.

She gave some tips as to how people can maintain good heart health. The first tip was to maintain a healthy weight range, but she also suggested some other things that people can do, no matter their size, to promote a healthy heart.

Abbott’s tips included a healthy diet, being physically active, avoiding smoking and being aware of stress levels. She emphasized that a healthy diet should include fruits and vegetables because they are great sources of vitamins and minerals, are high in dietary fiber and they contain substances that help prevent heart disease.

By following these tips, people can promote heart health and be body positive at the same time.