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Can You Be Overweight and Healthy?

Getting to the Weight of the Matter


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My advice is not to get discouraged. Keep doing what you are doing. It will soon pay off. Report
I understand how frustrating this can be. Report
The last line of the article is so true, finding the right physician is so important. Report
This is a very frustrating topic. I fit in the same category as "Lori" and, despite losing 210 lbs and going from a size 56-58 to a size 10-12, I am still considered medically obese. It really messes with your head when you work so hard and are still being admonished by "professionals" for not doing enough. Report
I'm seem to be in a very bad position. I am "medically technically" obese, but I never had or have diabetes (on both sides of family and sugars are perfect) , high blood pressure, cholesterol or nothing to indicate being unhealthy except being overweight. Within the last 6 months I swim 5 days a week for 2 hours each and cut my calorie intake to less than 1,000 calories a day and have actually gained weight. I guess the good news is my doctor is happy to see that I have become more toned but is still trying to see why I haven't been losing the weight. I'm also tried of being laughed and pointed at as that has been the norm for my life.I just wish what size I feel like should be what I look like. I am way more in shape than my sister who is half my size. Depressed , even tried suicide Report
Thank you for this! I am overweight thanks to an underactive thyroid that was undiagnosed at a time when I spent 3 months in a wheelchair and a further 9 months in rehab following an accident. I am otherwise a very healthy individual who has never been a fast or processed food eater - I have never like soft drinks either. My biggest food issue and it is one I am still working on, is portion size. My blood pressure is good, my cholesterol is good, my blood sugar is fine. I am trying to lose weight because I know that it will be easier on my joints and because I know that in the longer term it will be better for me.

I actually have the opposite problem to the author's client in that my doctor is not as concerned about my weight loss as I am - he basically told me that I am healthy and that some people are just naturally heavier! I do not accept that as there is no family history of weight gain later in life so I continue on my journey to lose weight and keep moving. Report
I see health and fitness as different aspects of a greater whole. I'm not fit, but I am healthy, I eat a healthy balanced diet, and don't suffer from any problems related to obesity, I had two fabulous, sickness free, pregnancies and relatively simple births (daughter just took her time, she still does!) I have friends, who are much smaller than me and are plagued with health issues, which are usually related more to someone my size and shape. I'm HEALTHY. Now I want to continue to lose weight because I want to maintain my health and gain fitness as I get older (40 next year). These same friends are fitter than me without a doubt. But I'd prefer, my health and a little excess weight (which I working to reduce), than their size and high blood pressure/pre-eclampsia/diabetes. And yes that poor lady, who should be praised for working her butt off (literally) definitely needs a new GP! Report
This happened to me as well ... and I had lost some weight. My doctor just didn't think it was enough. However, all my blood levels (glucose, cholesterol, etc) and blood pressure are completely normal (and actually always have been). It's very discouraging ... not only to be assumed unhealthy, but also to be doing the right things and not losing more weight. Report
My thoughts vary here. First, I DO think that you can be healthy even if your weight doesn't fall into the range considered "healthy" for your age and height. My reasoning for this opinion is simple. There are LOTS of factors that affect the number we see on a scale. Body fat percentage, muscle mass, water weight percentage and bone mass can all affect that number. Knowing this, I think it is important look at one's body fat percentage, visceral fat percentage (the percentage of your fat that is held in the torso / abdomen / belly area, which surrounds your vital organs), muscle mass and body water percentage / ratio. You can learn a lot about a person's true level of health from these measurements as well as from assessing their overall fitness and endurance level.

For example, I am currently around 188 lbs. However, I do not "carry" my weight in the same way that others who are the same weight do. I have muscle definition and I hold slightly less fat in my torso / abdomen / belly region than some others with the same weight. I am also fairly flexible and may have better posture than some of the same weight, which can (in some cases) be an indication of one's cardiovascular health. I have "curves" as opposed to some others in the same weight range. Knowing this, should I be considered as having the same level of health as someone who weighs the same but perhaps has less muscle or holds more fat in their torso / abdomen / belly region? I don't think so. And there are likely plenty of people who weigh 188 lbs right now who are in better health and shape than I am!

The thing to understand is that human beings are not the same. We have all kinds of factors that can cause standard measurements to mean different things for each person across the board. The accuracy of BMI in determining and diagnosing obesity has been debatable for a LONG time. I don't think BMI is the only thing that should be taken into consideration. The problem is that the medical industry seems to want to hold to a standard measurement that can be used for everyone across the board, rather than taking each individual and assessing them on an individual level. My theory is that individualizing health, weight and fitness assessments will take more time and keep many doctors from taking in as many patients as they'd like per day. Having a standard measurement can allow them to treat their practice like an assembly line, but that isn't good for the health of society.

The best thing I can recommend (as someone now studying health and nutrition) is to keep track of the following measurements on your own at home and evaluate your progress on a monthly basis:

body fat %
visceral fat % (again, fat around your torso / abdomen / belly & vital organs)
muscle mass
bone mass
body water %
level of flexibility and mobility
blood pressure & heart rate through exercise & endurance training

The measurements above will give you a more complete picture of your health. For example, if you notice your body water % and muscle mass decreasing, you are likely not drinking enough water and need to focus on better and more regular hydration. If you see your body fat % and visceral fat % decrease, that's a GOOD thing (just don't go overboard on losing body fat as there IS a safety recommendation for men and women). If you notice that you're able to breathe and focus better over longer durations while exercising, that is an indication that your fitness level is improving. And obviously your blood pressure and blood sugar decreasing are good signs.

Also, use your common sense. Doctors are humans that were given specific, structured, one-size-fits-all training in terms of the way they approach patient care. Some doctors will branch off, specialize and focus on giving individualized attention. Some, however, will stick to industry-prescribed standards and rarely venture out of them when making recommendations or treating their patients. Many doctors are also money-focused (sad but true). They often choose to medicate an issue over exploring more natural ways of resolving a health issue (such as adjusting a nutritional profile to lower blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar). They may also recommend actions that are in line with "fad" diets (you may be able to spot this if they try to sell you weight loss supplements that they sell within their practice). For example, not every obese or overweight person should be placed on something like Atkins. That means that depending on the doctor you have, you may need to take their advice with a grain of low-sodium salt (or else switch to a doctor who is willing to treat you like the individual you are). Use your common sense about what you know of health. If what you're doing is increasing your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar or weight, you need to adjust your current plan (not necessary with medication) to get those things under control. However, if what you're doing is lowering those measurements, you're feeling better and you're able to exercise longer and / or at higher intensities then your health is improving. There is not always a need to medicate or compound issues by medicating symptoms and side-effects caused by other medications. Health does not have to be as complicated as some of us make it. It can be simple to understand and manage if we just take the time to learn about our bodies and view things on an individual level rather than by a societal standard.

I may be considered "obese" according to my number weight, but my current focus is not just to get that number down. It is to focus on lowering my visceral fat %, body fat % while slightly increasing muscle mass, to ensure my water weight stays within acceptable ranges and to build my endurance and tolerance for physical activity. Toward that end I have purchased tools to help me monitor these things at home. When I start to see improvement in those measurements, I will know that my health is improving. When I go to the doctor in the Spring next year, I will listen closely to see how they view the numbers and progress. If the focus is only on BMI, "dieting" and medications, I will look for a new doctor who bothers to investigate additional ways of measuring overall health. We each need to take control of our own health levels. We cannot depend on a doctor (who is human, can sometimes make mistakes and who may in some cases be more motivated by money and the prestige of having a certain number of clients than a need to treat us as individual as our genetics, DNA and bodies say we are) for everything. Yes, go to the doctor when you are experiencing issue, symptoms or medical emergencies. Go to the doctor before starting a fitness or nutrition plan, when you are trying to become pregnant or when you become pregnant. But also be willing to take responsibility for your own health and be willing to assess and track it on a regular basis. Only then can you fully understand your individual level of health and fitness. Report
think some people just have larger body types than others, but saying that it's okay to be fat is a dangerous path to go down. The vast majority of overweight/obese people need to lose weight to increase their health and fitness levels, but articles like this give people an excuse to be lazy. Like everything, there are exceptions to the rules, but as a whole, if you are labelled obese due to your BMI, losing some weight isn't going to hurt you. Report
This is what I don't understand. A super skinny person who eats junk food and never exercise in their lives are never told that their lifestyle will eventually cause them harm. However, someone with great muscle tone but slightly bigger than normal but eats really healthy is deemed as unhealthy. Stop judging people. We live in a society where people run from judgement but those same people are judgmental. I thought doctors were smart? Take into account the WHOLE LIFESTYLE and not just what you see on a freaken scale. I'm tired of hearing about this nonsense. We live in such a superficial world. Take care of your inside first and foremost...the outside is just the icing to the glorious cake.

I think this is a great message to send to people. Stop worrying about the scale and worry about how you feel. The misconception that because I am fat I must be unfit is what make me as an overweight person feel so bad. People just assume that I must eat McDonald's and candy all day and never do anything more physical than walking to the fridge.

I think if we focus on improving out fitness the rest will follow. Too often we are stuck on the numbers and let that deter use from being successful. If we learned to focus on the "non-scale" victories we would be happier people I think Report
ive actually been very happy with my doctor. every time im in there they check weight and blood pressure and they always comment on how well im doing. i was told a while ago that my blood pressure was on the high side of normal so i should watch it. all i did was not put extra salt in my food. the next time i went in my blood pressure was normal. they were very impressed. my cholesterol is normal blood pressure normal i can walk 4 miles one way before i need a break and im very overweight. i have several medical conditions that make losing weight nearly impossible but my doctor is always encouraging. even if theres only a couple pounds lost when i go in they make a big deal about it. she has told me several times im in great shape just overweight. she jokes that i have all the muscles they are just shy and hide. Report
I'm 61, about 60 pounds overweight and hypothyroid, as well as a 15-year breast cancer survivor.

My blood pressure averages 115/75 (except at the doctor's office), my cholesterol and triglycerides are in the normal ranges, and my blood glucose is below 99. All my other blood tests are in the normal ranges.

I can work out on an elliptical machine for over 30 minutes with a variable resistance program, then go on to do a complete weight machine upper & lower body exercise routine. I can complete Leslie Sansone's 5-mile Advanced workout (60 minutes) while wearing 1.5 lb wrist weights on each hand.

My doctor's only concern is my high blood pressure at her office. So, I'm monitoring it at home daily for 6 weeks, then I'll bring in my tracking report and my home blood pressure monitor to compare it to the doctor's. The last time I did this - a few years ago - my home monitor matched the one in the doctor's office, so I have a confirmed case of "white coat syndrome" where my BP is higher than normal at the doctor's office. Report
I stopped going to the doctor because I was tired of them all telling me I needed to lose weight. Like I had never looked in the mirror? I have given up on doctors. Report

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