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Looking back I’d rather have been “skinny fat”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Although that’s become a pejorative term, here’s my reasoning.

We all begin our journey to a healthy lifestyle at a different starting point. I totally accept the need for increasing muscle mass and reducing fat, but I’m beginning to wonder about all the put-downs and warnings toward those deemed to be “skinny-fat.”

I understand that it may be hard to convince a “skinny-fat” person that they have a problem and need to make changes since their weight is in the normal range, but they don’t have a monopoly on denial. I had 25 years experience convincing myself that my extra weight was just fine.

Once the decision is made to work out, increase muscle/lose fat, become stronger and eat a healthy diet, wouldn’t it be easier to do that without the need to limit calories also?

If someone is just plain “fat-fat,” the exercise (cardio, strength training etc) still is required, but food intake (calories) must be restricted too. That’s the part I found to be hard. I LIKED to eat large quantities of food.

I suppose the advice to the “skinny-fat” is well meaning and intended to warn them not to be complacent and to look at the big picture. However, considering that 2/3 of our society is overweight or obese, how big a problem is being “skinny-fat?” Looking around, I don’t think that our problem is an over-abundance of muscle.

I was complacent because I was active and fit which made it easy to overlook the extra pounds that had piled on. In addition, as society gained weight right along with me, comparatively I thought I was fine.

So while it’s important to encourage all people to live a healthy lifestyle and gain strength, I must admit being envious of those who can begin this journey without having to lose weight too.

Edit: If you're not familiar with the term, "skinny-fat" is what we have recently been calling people who are within or even near the low end of the normal weight range yet don't have the proper amount of muscle mass. Often they lack cardio endurance as well.
Their advantage is that when they finally decide to become stronger and change their lifestyle, they don't have to limit their calories.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    One of my triggers for starting on my journey was a health show with Dr. Pamela Peek, in which she took mostly average-looking people and one overweight one and put them in a challenge. Their building was on fire, and they had to evacuate. Like good soldiers, they started down the stairs. After many floors, they were met by someone who said the lower levels were all burning, and their only salvation was to climb to the roof and be choppered off. Nineteen floors. They started climbing. About halfway up, they were stopped by someone else and told that stairwell was not safe. They had to exit the stairwell and crawl down the "smoky" hall to the other stairwell to resume their climb. They were being timed. Although they all made it to the roof, the overweight person was declared dead for going way over time. The others were all in that skinny fat category, and none of them made great time saving themselves. It was a wake up call to me, and I tried walking the stairs at work the next day. Two flights and I was breathing hard. Four flights and I gave up. NOW I can do it, but the first try was a real eye opener.
    1864 days ago
    Interesting blog...never thought of it that way

    I am happy with being strong and extremely fit at 49.
    1864 days ago
    This kind of topic really pricks my temper. Labels like "normal weight" or "Skinny fat" are rarely about health. I think that we as human being like to pretend that we can control the bad things that happen in our lives by assigning blame to behaviors. If you are heavier than is acceptable then well, you asked for all those health problems and since I am not, then I will be safe from them. If you are skinny but not muscular then if you get sick then you deserved it and since I exercise it won't happen to me. While I am not sorry I lost weight and improved my health, I have realized that it is never enough. Someone, likely yourself, will find reasons to make you feel you are not what you should be. People argue whether you can possibly "really" be healthy if you don't run or if running destroys your bodies. People argue whether you should eat or avoid saturated fat. People accuse others of eating too much or too little if they don't lose weight as scheduled. They try to control family members food "for their own good". It is really about proving that, "it won't happen to me". Oh, I have done this too, so I speak from experience but avoiding all weight related reading for Lent really opened my eyes to how twisted this is.
    If health, and not looks or warding off disease and death indefinitely, is your goal then take the example of my parents. They will turn 89 this year. They live on their own in a large house which, other than the yard, they take care of. They eat simple meals of meat and vegetables and potatoes or bread. They are around the middle to top of their healthy weight ranges. They have never purposely exercised outside of bootcamp for my dad during WWII and physical therapy for injuries. My mom has always enjoyed a relaxing walk. They have some wear and tear from the years but no huge dramatic health issues.
    Sounds like a pretty good deal for a picture of old age to me. With the US life expectancy in the 74 yr range, they are doing better than expected. So anyone who says you must do certain exercises, and eat certain things and weigh as low as possible or for sure, get sick and die a miserable death, is a liar! My father in law, who was not overweight, didn't smoke, ate reasonably healthy, and worked on his feet all day(i.e. wasn't sedentary), died of cancer at 58. Sure, you will likely be healthier if you stay moderately active and eat sensibly. Yet, we all will die whether we do or don't. So past common sense lifestyles, shouldn't we be worrying more about whether we made the world a better place? I have never seen a grave that said "She lost a lot of weight and was in really great shape."
    1865 days ago
    You always come up with such interesting topics. I'll say I wish I could be skinny-fat, but knowing myself I might never catch on to being healthier. So I'll accept the challenge to lose weight and exercise more.
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    1865 days ago
  • DEBBY4576
    Interesting. I would rather be skinny fat and work just on the exercise.
    1866 days ago
    Nice blog, but wumpastar has a good point.....
    1866 days ago
    Yep! I have been "chubby" and I have been "skinny-fat." Skinny-fat is definitely preferable; though I prefer FIT! ;)
    1866 days ago
    This is timely, my family keeps telling me "You've lost enough weight. Stop." However, I still have a long way to go, and I kind of feel like I'm in the skinny fat stage. I could stop where I'm at, but I know that there is plenty of fat left on me and I'm far from withering away. To them the extra pounds I have to lose are over shadowed by the 60 pounds I've already lost. I guess they're still in an adjustment stage with my weight loss, too. Sorry, just had a sort of metacognition moment...your blogs always make me think--thank you! :)
    1866 days ago
    I'm actually happy about being a fat-fat because I think that if I'd been a skinny-fat all my life I would have never realized the importance of training, muscle building and all that. Most of my friends are skinny-fat's, eat whatever they want, drink a lot and barely exercise, but yet they feel fine about it because it doesn't show physically. It'll probably crawl back on them when they hit the 40's though, while it won't affect me (I hope) because by then I'll be fitter and healthier. So yeah!
    1866 days ago
  • MISSB8604
    Honestly, I'd rather be "skinny-fat" then "fat-fat". More and more, I'm trying not to focus on what society wants me to be and focus on what I want to be.

    It's about how I feel, what I want. NOT what society wants/thinks is beautiful.

    Great blog!
    1866 days ago
    thanks for reminding us all to work on this!
    1866 days ago
    I think there is a sub category for men. "Muscled Fat" I believe I have been his way most of my adult life. I would describe it as carrying extra fat over enough muscle that you can be physically active and actually be over weight. I was fooling myself and felt I could eat anything and as much as I wanted as long as I worked out.

    I think I have an genetically enhanced taste buds, I too can eat large quantities of food. Now I think I'm more mindful about my meals.
    1866 days ago
    I guess I'm skinny-fat, if I'm defining it correctly, as not enough toned muscle mass. At 115, 5'7", though, I'm not complaining.
    1866 days ago
    never thought of it that way.
    1866 days ago
    Well said! I like seeing the muscle that I now have and I used to be that skinny-fat person. I had 30-40 lbs of extra weight that I lost. I say 30-40 because it just depends on what chart you look at for ideal weight range. I've lost 40 lbs. and have heard people say that I'm "too skinny." As long as I feel good and like how I look, that's all that matters when I'm in my weight range.

    Thanks for the blog! It made me think.
    1866 days ago
  • KANOE10
    I spent a life being overweight..and sometimes wondered what it would be like to have been thin all of my life. The important thing is that we are thin now and trying to get healthier!

    Interesting blog.
    1866 days ago
  • SUNSET09
    If it's not a weight problem "they" have having, it's something else. It's also about being healthy, even at a comfortable weight and living a long life and setting good examples. Something to think about. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1866 days ago
    1866 days ago
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