Handling Health Disadvantages

By Katie, 7:46 pm

**I absolutely loved reading about your superpowers and your favorite superheroes! Such fun and interesting comments! Thanks to all of you for sharing!**

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you have some kind of interest in healthy living. (Or you’re just one of my very supportive family members or friends, thank you!) You are probably making a conscious effort to take better care of yourself; you probably have a “take charge” attitude toward your health.

But what about those aspects of our health over which we have zero control? How do we deal with our personal “health disadvantages”?

One of my biggest health disadvantages is my body’s natural build. In fruit terms, I’m definitely more of an “apple” than a “pear,” meaning that when I gain weight, I carry it around my chest and waist. Pear shapes, on the other hand, carry their weight mostly in their hips and thighs.


Some research has shown that being an “apple” is more dangerous health-wise; because I carry more fat around my vital organs, I’m at greater risk for developing heart disease and diabetes. So I need to be extra diligent when it comes to having excess fat, because no amount of exercise or healthy eating is going to change my body’s natural shape. It’s just something I have to deal with.

Some other “health disadvantages” include a family history of certain cancers or other diseases. Or you could be disadvantaged by an unhealthy habit you had in the past (smoking, tanning, etc.); even though you may have altered that habit now, there’s no way to go back in time and change the choices you made years ago.

I’m starting to sound a bit like a Debbie Downer, now aren’t I? :-?

But the point of this post is not doom and gloom. I think it is important for each of us to recognize that there are some aspects of our health that are completely outside of our control. There’s simply nothing we can do about them. And yet we are not powerless. When we recognize where our particular disadvantages lie, we have the power and control to take steps to mitigate their effects.

In other words, acknowledging that over which we have no control can actually be a powerful act; it gives us the knowledge and motivation to do all that we can to counteract the disadvantages and live our healthiest lives.

In the end, there are many aspects of life that are simply out of our control, and our health is no exception. Once we accept that fact we can move forward, taking charge of our well-being in the areas that we can.

Do you have a “health disadvantage”? Are you taking steps to try to counteract that disadvantage?

If you’re interested, here is some more reading on the health advantages/disadvantages of “apple” and “pear” shapes.

21 Responses to “Handling Health Disadvantages”

  1. I have some cancer and Type 2 diabetes risks in my family. But, I refuse to stress over it. Like you said, the best we can do is use it to our advantage, eat well and take care of our bodies!

  2. pretty much the exact same as you…apple-shaped body, and i have health issues from both sides of my family. all the more reason why i should eat well and exercise!

  3. Erica says:

    Oh geez, my family health history is a wreck!!!
    We’ve got pretty much everything.. diabetes (type 2), cancer (pretty much every kind!), Alzheimer’s, lupus, asthma, fibromyalgia, depression… I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting some, too.
    Even though I’m still young, my mom has always called me “the healthy one”. I haven’t been diagnosed with anything (thank God!) and I’ve just told myself that my health is a blessing. Sure, my genetic history isn’t the greatest but that only motivates me to live a healthy life all the more. Pretty much all of the conditions listed above are brought on by unhealthy habits, which is encouraging!
    I’ve realized that every healthy day we get is a blessing not to be taken for granted. ;)
    Great post, Katie!

  4. I’m definitely an apple too, much to my dismay :-(

    Luckily, I do have a very healthy family history!

  5. my stupid mood disorder and depression. but i work at it each day and i never give up hope. i may not have all the answers i need to get back in balance but each day i learn therefore each day i grow.

    ps. love the little people/fruit shapes. TOO CUTE!

  6. Candice says:

    I’m an apple too! I used to think I was a pear but after my weight loss, my hips and bottom are slimmer and I can’t rid myself of extra body fat on my tummy. Like you said, I can work out forever and not change that. I handle this in two ways. First, I’ve accepted it. This is my body and as long as I’m doing everything I can to be healthy, this is what I’ll have. That’s ok. Second, I try to do extra ab work because that helps me focused on the first one.

  7. Gosh I’ve got heart disease and diabetes running in my family. I like that you talk about taking control and not letting those things you can’t control take over. I take control of those through healthy eating and exercise, plus they are good for my mental health haha

  8. Wow what a great topic I feel like this allllll the time, I hate it. Check this, I have high cholesterol. I am a pescatarian (who only recently started eating fish for the sole purpose of getting more fish oils!), I eat oatmeal like its my job, and I exercise, and I have high cholesterol! I take niacin and sometimes supplement with fish oils to keep it in check because I dont want to have to medicate one day, but its still frustrating!

    I dont really know what shape I am! I mean I guess I am pear shaped, yeah I guess I definitely am. My hips…got em from my momma. Guess thats apparently a good thing though, healthwise?? I’ll remember to thank her. =)

  9. Tamara says:

    That’s funny–I’m a 100% pear and consider it /my/ disadvantage! I can never find pants that fit because all of my weight sits in my thighs, and the waists of jeans gape. I also can’t shrink smaller than a certain size, because if I lose enough weight to make my bottom bits look less “robust,” the top bits look sickly (shoulder bones and ribs poking out–not pretty). At least it’s fashionable to wear fluttery peasant tops to cover up a tummy :p

    But that’s a vanity disadvantage, not a health one….

  10. I also have cancer in my family, that’s really the biggie. I have no idea what body shape I am, but I don’t pay much attention to that. I also focus on exercise that I like (I love doing a variety of things, like yoga, Pilates, workout DVDs, biking) and eat anything I want in moderation. Like Heather said, those things are good for mental health! :)

    I like Katie’s point that though we can’t control certain health conditions, it doesn’t mean that we’re powerless to them. You can still lead a healthy life. Great post!

  11. I had to laugh when I read Tamara’s comment above…I can totally relate!!

    But you’re right about all of us having health disadvantages that we’re working against. I think what you brought up is a very important issue. I find it so sad when I see many people (maybe not so much healthy living bloggers…I’m talking mainstream America here) accepting a defeatist mentality when it comes to these “disadvantages.” Since they will always be fighting against these issues, they decide there’s no point in trying. And they let the problems overcome them.

    But what you said is so important! We may not be able to change the past, but we CAN allow it to motivate us to do everything in our power to make sure we have a healthy future. I have a pretty extensive family history of disease (particularly cancer), and for me, that serves as a lot of motivation for how I treat my body now.

  12. I do have a family history of breast cancer, so I am extra diligent about my annual visits, screening, etc. I’m also a med student… so I get super nervous about even little things that go wrong. I know enough to get scared at this stage, but not enough to calm myself down. :-)

  13. Cara says:

    First, the positive – I have what I consider to be pretty good genes. In other words my family has no history of heart disease, cancer, etc. That makes me feel good, but not completely out of the woods! I still take plenty of steps to do everything in MY control to increase my chances of living a long, healthy life. For me this means fueling my body with good, healthy food and staying committed to fitness. I DO have a history with obesity and like you I carry my extra weight in my midsection. I know that I’ll always have to work a little harder than most people to maintain a healthy weight, given that I was obese for most of my life. It’s a challenge, but one I’m happy to embrace.

  14. I am definitely apple-shaped and high cholesterol runs in the fam (mine is borderline high). But you’re so right – everyone has disadvantages, and we shouldn’t waste our time and energy worrying about things we can’t change. The thing I try to remember is that there is no solid proof that anything with our bodies will absolutely lead to something else bad (ie. if you have “high” cholesterol, you will have a heart attack at age 50 and die. Then you have to think about – what is “high”? – how did they determine that?). Everything is just a risk factor – and how much of a risk for our unique bodies, we will never know. It is also extremely likely that there are risk factors that nobody even knows about yet. Again, more things completely out of our control.

    So I just focus on things I CAN control – eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, staying away from second-hand smoke, etc.

    Great post!

  15. Tina says:

    I am sooo a pear shape and it used to drive me crazy (still does sometimes I’ll admit). But I am really working on just focusing on what I can do for my health and being proud of my body.

    I agree that is important to control the things we can by choosing to live healthy lives, because that can only help. But it still is hard to let go of those things healthwise we can’t control. I am learning that like a smack in the face right now with trying to conceive. I have no control over if it happens, but I can go ahead and be proactive to make my body as healhty as can be for when a baby does inhabit it. That is empowering.

  16. Fellow apple, here. :-)

    My family for the most part doesn’t have a strong history of illness, with the exception of heart disease on my dad’s side, and diabetes on my mom’s side. My grandpa, my mom AND two of her siblings have/had diabetes – so I definitely try to keep an eye on that. So far, so good!

  17. I am an “apple” as well, and for a long time it really bothered me. But you’re so right about accepting who we are and making the most of what we’ve been given. :)

    Osteoporosis runs rampant in my family so I do my best to make sure I include enough calcium and Vitamin D in my diet. I am especially vulnerable because I was under-eating as a teenager–crucial years for bone development! Recently I’ve incorporated strength training into my workouts, which is supposed to help with bone density maintenance as well.

  18. Besides some breast cancer on both sides and my maternal Grandma having type 2 diabetes, the family history isn’t too bad.

    I do still struggle with being pear shaped – trying to find pants is a chore and a half. That is a vanity thing though and can be overcome :)

  19. What a great post! I think it is important to realize what you can and can not control! It is also important to be aware of your family history! GREAT POST!

  20. Lisa says:

    I still haven’t been able to figure out what shape I am. I do have health disadvantages, sometimes it seems like a new one rears it’s ugly head every day, but I try to go on and live the best life I can. I hope that if I stay active and eat well, that I’ll be as healthy as possible and possibly counteract some of those disadvantages.

  21. Wow – amazing post, Katie!
    Thanks for sharing :D
    Brazilian XOXO┬┤s,

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