A Professional Opinion
My argument was that you don't have to be perfect, but you have to set a fairly decent example. After all, would you go to an accountant who had filed for bankruptcy? Would you go to a personal trainer who was 300 pounds and smoked while s/he coached you through your workout?
But - the problem with the notion of "health" and setting a good example is that it's so broad. If you look at the current health professors in my department, of course, none of them smoke. That makes sense to me - and I also like that one because I don't smoke either. 90% of them do not drink alcohol. Ever. Strike one for me. I'm not exactly gunning for AA membership, but I do likes me a glass of wine with dinner. 90% of them exercise regularly. A few of them might be teetering on the brink of exercise addiction. Huh? What? Exercise? I don't remember what that is. Strike two for me. Almost all of them eat really, really healthy. In fact, one eats so healthy that most of us can't even look at the food she brings in because it's THAT disgusting. (Lots of steamed squashes as entrees and lots of unrecognizable whole grains.) I try to get in my daily servings of fruits and vegetables, but I also like some crappy food now and then. In my field, this is akin to worshipping Satan. In fact, for the past two years, I've gotten bitched at for bringing my left-over Halloween candy into the office. (There was lots - we didn't get any trick-or-treaters.) I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
So, one of my fellow doc students was bemoaning the fact that she might not be taken seriously when she is a professor because of her size. Personally, I think she looks fine. She's very curvy, but she's also very tall and broad-shouldered, so I don't look at her and think, "Morbidly obese. At risk for Diabetes and other obesity-related causes of mortality." As we tried to give her a pep talk, another colleague said, "No one is perfectly healthy. Remember, there are so many dimensions of health - not just physical, but emotional, mental, spiritual, etc., After all, look at Teacher Lady. She's skinny, but she's a wreck."
How sad and pathetic (and how much of a wreck) am I that in a split second I went from really insulted to all gushy-grateful, "You think I'm skinny!!! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!" I think I just heard that "mental health" dimension disappearing. Oh, well.