5 Things Olympic Bodies Teach Us About Health


Like billions of people around the world, I love watching the Olympic games. Naturally, as someone who recovered from an eating disorder and used to yo-yo diet, one of the things I find most fascinating about the Olympics is the athletes body types. 

Here are 5 things Olympic bodies can teach us about health: 

1. Weight Doesn't Matter

Shocked that I would say that? Good! It's time you learnt the truth. Olympic athletes show us that you don't need to weigh a certain amount to be healthy. In fact, you cannot tell if someone is healthy by looking at their body. I am serious. We have been lied to and it's time for the judgement around the 'weight' to end. 

When it comes to working out if someone is healthy, I don't give a $#*t about weight anymore and nor should you, my friend. You should be far more curious about: energy levels, fitness, nutrient levels, blood pressure, heart rate, emotional happiness etc etc. These measures tell you whether someone is healthy - not their weight. 

Photographer Howard Schatz’s work has helped to expose the wide spectrum of body types belonging to 125 of the world’s best athletes

Photographer Howard Schatz’s work has helped to expose the wide spectrum of body types belonging to 125 of the world’s best athletes

2. The BMI is Bollocks

I think the BMI (or Body Mass Index) is complete rubbish. If you applied the BMI to these Olympic athletes, many of them would have 'unhealthy' BMIs. The BMI was developed to look at population data - not individuals. And it's outdated now anyway. 

BMI should not be used to determine if someone is healthy by comparing their height and weight to the 'norm'. Too many people who work in the health industry still rely on BMI which is disappointing. But now that you know better, you can ditch the BMI too. 

Photographer Howard Schatz’s work

Photographer Howard Schatz’s work

3. We Are So Different

In our western world, we have a very narrow view of what we define as a healthy body type. For women the ideal is slim and toned... (but not-too-toned because god forbid women should look too strong! Argh) and for men, the ideal is lean and very muscular (which is equally hard to achieve). Apparently, these 'ideal' body types are meant to be 'healthy'... but I don't buy it. 

There is no one healthy body type.

We are all unique with naturally different shapes. Just look at these incredibly healthy Olympians whose incredibly different body types make their superstars. 

                                                                    There is no one healthy body type.                                                                       Photographer Howard Schatz’s work

                                                                    There is no one healthy body type. 
                                                                     Photographer Howard Schatz’s work

4. Body Types Are Predetermined

We all have a unique body types, that is largely predetermined. Fitness magazines and stupid diets love to make us think we can magically morph into a different body type with enough willpower, exercise and restrictive. But we can't. If you look at the Olympic athletes, you can clearly see the natural differences in body types.

One body type is not better than the other - they are just different, with their own unique benefits. 

I'm a naturally muscular girl. I've always been good at sports but even a few years ago, I would have traded that in a heart beat to fit into the thin body ideal. I used to resent that I wasn't lean, skinny or slight. But that is my body type. No matter how much weight I lose, my body type remains.

Instead of trying to change my shape (which is actually impossible), I've just accepted that this is my body type and I'm embracing the benefits that come with it. It may not be 'perfect', but it's healthy. And that's far more important to me... 

Photographer Howard Schatz’s work

Photographer Howard Schatz’s work

5. No One Is Naturally or Permanently Body Confident

Have you ever lost weight and thought, "this is great - but if I could just lose a little more then...". It's super common. The mass majority of us feel as though our bodies aren't good enough. Even people who have the 'ideal' body type aren't happy with their bodies. Olympians aren't immune either. 

Body Confidence isn't something that you acquire when you lose weight and get your 'perfect' body. If you try to do that, you'll sadly never feel satisfied with your body (trust me - I would know)! 

True body confidence is recognising your imperfections and loving your body any way. 

Body confidence is always a work in progress. With the never-ending news feed telling us to lose weight and look a certain way, it takes constant work to remind yourself that it's ok to just be healthy, not perfect. It's something I remind myself of daily. 

Aim to be healthy, not perfect.

Now I'm going to leave you with this video of Serena Williams being awesome and teaching us how to twerk. Werq, Werq, Werq... 

If you're sick of hating your body and want to love your natural body shape, then let's do something about it. Learn to listen to your body, give up diets and eat well by checking out my BodyLove eCourse, which is filled with useful info about creating a body you actually love.

Lyndi Cohen