Can you be skinny fat? Imagine this scenario. Two women, Mary and Sally, want to lose weight. Both have about 20 pounds to shed. Mary begins to diet, counting calories, occasionally skipping meals, and skimping on portions. The weight comes off, and before long she’s dropped 20 pounds! Sally, on the other hand, eats healthy, but isn’t quite as diligent about watching portion sizes. She decides to join a gym and workout most days of the week. Despite the fact that she’s exercising, the scale doesn’t budge.
Who is healthier? Thin Mary, or Fit Sally?
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, being fit and slightly heavier is healthier than being sedentary – even if you’re of average weight. Is this a revelation? Nope. It’s been long understood that physical activity is good for your body. In no way am I trying to sweep good nutrition under the rug. I firmly believe that you are what you eat and a person eating a processed, high sugar, junky fat diet is much, much, much less healthy than a person who eats mostly whole, unrefined foods. There is no doubt about that.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where thin is still in. There are plenty of people among us who, regardless of gender or age, will “diet down,” to achieve a magic number on the scale. As it turns out, health is not entirely dictated by what we weigh. According to the study of over 14,000 people, approximately 90% of whom were of average weight or overweight, those who exercised were 19% less likely to suffer heart disease or stroke-related deaths, and 15% less likely to die from any other cause in comparison to those who did not exercise.
Obesity does remain a growing problem in our country and throughout much of the world. Neither this study nor this post suggests that it’s ok to eat, eat and eat as long as you exercise. Of course, reaching a weight that is as close to optimal for your body helps overall health enormously. The decision to exercise or not – despite weight, however, is just as critical is staying healthy. Eat well and exercise regularly. If you’re not a “perfect” weight, don’t let it get you down. Taking care of your body has as much to do with how you treat it as how you feed it!
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American Heart Association (2011, December 5). Physical fitness trumps body weight in reducing death risks, study finds. ScienceDaily