tl;dr: “Obese people who are physically fit are half as likely to die as thin, sedentary people. Aerobic fitness may be a better measure of health than BMI.” (Source, p. 205)
“Can you be both fat and healthy at the same time?”
It seems like a pretty simple question, doesn’t it? It seems like a simple question that has a simple answer. Hell, I’ve been working in the weight loss arena for over six years now, and I spent at least that many years as an obese person. I lost 100 lbs myself, coached over a hundred more on losing weight, and even became a full-time personal trainer to pursue this question in force. So, Mr Gym Dom guy, what’s the definitive answer?
The answer is…………………..it depends.
Size Isn’t Everything (but Fitness Can Be)
Don’t get me wrong: being obese (BMI of 30+) carries a wealth of health hazards. There’s high blood pressure, poor circulation, chronic fatigue, creaky joints, low back pain, and elevated risk of heart disease count among obesity’s byproducts. It may not take you out early–I know obese people in their early 80s–but it can definitely make life shitty.Just look at these eyes and tell me any differently:
However, overweight people (BMI of 25-30) can still carry a few extra pounds and maintain better health than their skinny counterparts.
I know. It surprised me, too.
You see, even when we’re heavier than skinny people (BMI <15-20), our health depends on our activity levels. This doesn’t mean that you need to turn gym rat to stay in the game, either. In fact, by meeting basic exercise goals (30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days per week), an overweight person reaps the benefits of an active lifestyle (Sample of research). Do you realize what this means?
You don’t have to be at your goal weight to be healthy. You can gain your health back RIGHT. NOW.
Is Skinny Safer?
Understand this: simply being skinny doesn’t give you a free pass for the good life. You can be skinny and lazy, just like you can be fat and lazy. It’s not the weight itself that kills you. In fact, carrying a few extra pounds into old age can make one more resilient against the multitude of illnesses and accidents that plague the elderly (Source). While carrying too many pounds will take you out sooner, keeping an active lifestyle and a few pounds just might let you see more of those twilight years.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there are more important health goals than the number on your scale. Losing weight is great, of course, but that’s not the only option on the menu.
Start by incorporating four periods, 30 minutes each, of moderately vigorous activity this week. Here’s some ideas on what to do. Set yourself to leading a better life by using your body for more of what it’s meant to do. Put more life in your years by being active. Kick your own ass.
I believe in you.