Fat and Fit

I’ve recently become addicted to Twitter.  Well, you can’t really say addicted, as I’m only following 13 people and 11 are British actors. But one is “Active”, a running website where I sign up for races.  They offer some great little tidbits of training advice.  Tonight I stumbled upon this: (you can find the whole article here:)

The National Institutes of Health gives us four marks on the BMI ladder. It puts the underweight/unhealthy BMI cutoff at 18.5, which indicates malnourishment. If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, you’re in the normal/healthy weight range. From 25.0 to 29.9, you’re overweight, and your health risks (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease) start climbing. Anyone above a 30.0 BMI gets labeled obese and faces dramatically higher health risks. Approximately 60 percent of all Americans are overweight or obese, and this percentage is increasing.

Fat and Fit?

While it seems certain that higher body weights are unhealthy, fitness counts, too. Steven Blair, P.E.D., who often describes himself as “short, fat, and bald,” is the most famous expert in the BMI, exercise, and health field. He and his former colleagues at the Cooper Aerobics Center have collected the world’s most impeccable fitness data; they’ve actually tested thousands of subjects on a treadmill. Most other large studies are based on questionnaires that ask: “How much do you exercise during a typical week?” And you just know a lot of people are wildly optimistic (lying) when they answer that question.

The Cooper Center studies show that aerobic fitness is a powerful predictor of longevity. Indeed it’s often better to be fat but fit rather than lean and out-of-shape. Fitness can trump fatness. As a result, Blair, a lifelong runner now at the University of South Carolina, believes we focus too much on weight, which demonizes and demoralizes fat people. “I’d like to banish the whole idea of ideal weight,” he says. “We simply don’t have enough data to say what’s right for any individual or group. We should focus more on telling people they can get healthier by becoming more active, no matter what their starting weight.”

That’s a great message, and one we should all take to our nonexercising, overweight friends. They need every bit of motivation they can get. Still, we should also remember that weight loss is almost always good. Because lean and fit will always trump fat and fit.

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Okay, going by the BMI tool they refer to, I would have to be 20 pounds lighter just to be in the “normal” range.  While probably not impossible, it’s highly improbable.  My goal is to lose 15 at the most, and even that is pushing a low weight for me.  I haven’t been 20 pounds lighter since 1998…and it was near impossible to maintain (which is why I gained it back very quickly).  Hence the question, is it really okay to just be “fat and fit”?  I don’t care about shaving 5 minutes off my race time.  I care about being able to haul a pack up Mount Washington!  Longer life would be kinda cool too.

Both my nutrionist and my doctor have said maybe I’m not supposed to weigh less.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  The generic health and advertising industries DON’T know my body?  They DON’T know what is best for me?  What a concept!  I’m not saying I don’t have a little too much around the middle and that I’m okay with that.  But perhaps, just perhaps it IS okay.  We’ll see what my sugars are reading at my next physical and take it from there! In the meantime, hike on!

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