Skinny vs Fit — Which are You Focused On?
I must admit I don’t like taking photos with thin petite women. I’m almost six feet tall and I look like a giant posing next to them. One of these small women tried to give me a compliment saying I was voluptuous. I replied that when I wasn’t standing next to people like her I was actually called thin. Actually, that may not be much of a compliment either.
As usual it has to do with your point of view. I workout a lot, I am fit and in good physical shape and feel good about myself.
It’s been a journey to get here requiring regular boosts of self-esteem and maturity. Because I’m a big girl I’ve avoided putting stock in articles that apply one size-fits-all standard to weight and body image. I will not spend money on a fitness magazine with a thin muscle-less girl on the cover or in the centerfold faking exercises I know she can’t do. Don’t insult me.
Too much emphasis is put on being skinny instead of being fit. I was flabbergasted when my beautiful long 11-year-old daughter who is a strong athlete and barely has any fat on her body dug into her side to pinch some skin and said she was fat. I wanted to throw the tv out the window because I know she didn’t get that idea from me. I teach her about eating healthy and staying active and fit. An 11-year-old shouldn’t care about her weight if she is doing these things.
Don’t believe the media hype! Focus on Being Fit!
Your thin is not my thin or fit and for goodness sakes the thinner person is not healthier or more fit and maybe not happier either. Meanwhile the bigger girls are wallowing in pity because their thighs touch and think they should be wearing a size two. The happiest or most confident women I meet are of all shapes and sizes at the gym working out on machines and crowding into exercise classes and working on becoming more fit. Sometimes I also meet them hiking, skiing or walking in my neighborhood.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services fitness has to do with a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.
- Does your body allow you to swim, bike, run or walk briskly for a sustained period?
- Can your muscles exert force during an activity without tiring quickly?
- Can you easily climb a flight of stairs?
- Carry groceries in from the car?
- Are you flexible enough to move through a full range of motion without injury?
- Can you comfortably reach for things on high shelves or in the back seat of the car?
What’s missing from this list is a question about body mass index or your body’s muscle-bone-fat ratio. While this is a worthwhile measurement because too much fat may be concerning, it’s not the whole story. There seems to be a difference between subcutaneous fat, fat beneath the skin and visceral fat, the fat around the organs. Fat around the organs is considered a greater health risk. If you’re only worried about how the fat looks on your hips you’re focused on the wrong problem. Thin people who are not fit can have visceral fat, which contributes to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Focusing on how fit you are matters.
Taking this into consideration it’s not necessarily a compliment to call someone thin, right? A woman congratulated my friend Ruth saying she looked amazing because she lost weight. This didn’t make Ruth feel good because she knew she lost it because she was depressed about her grandmother dying. She didn’t feel pretty she felt weak and sad.
To be clear, the woman who called me voluptuous did not offend me. I feel good about my curves, muscles, height and enormous feet (another subject for sure). But I would have enjoyed better a compliment about how strong I looked or my great posture. Or how my energy helps motivate others to exercise. Or simply what a nice person I am. Gee, at least I aspire to deserve these compliments!
Here is how I stay fit and happy:
1) Avoid the scale. Don’t obsess over what you weight. Concentrate on how you feel in your skin and in your clothes.
2) Exercise regularly. The USDHHS suggest adults elevate their heart rate for at least 30 minutes most days. This is a minimum, the more the better.
3) Make healthy diet choices avoiding sugar and fat and watching meal portions.
4) Don’t compare yourself to others. Find something about yourself to focus on and feel proud.
5) Get plenty of rest and avoid stress. Easier said than done but suggestion number 2 can help greatly with this.
Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
- Knowing what your weight means: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/yourweight.pdf
- Belly Fat: http://www.webmd.com/diet/the-truth-about-belly-fat?page=1
- Physical Fitness Guidelines: http://www.fitness.gov/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/
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