Jamison Hill

The Journey of a Chronically Fatigued Exercise Addict 

The Blog

Fit and Fat?

Posted on April 16, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Can someone be fat and fit?

This is a question that seems to be coming up a lot lately in the fitness world. First, off I want to clarify that this post is in no way intended to single anyone out or offend them- so I hope it doesn't! With that said, fat is a very subjective term to define- the feds use a measure based on height and weight (Weight(kg)/Height(m) squared) alone to decide if you are underweight, overweight, obese, or extremely obese. This is a big an assumption in my opinion, the center for disease control and prevention (CDC) even says, "BMI is used because for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat." The words to point out in that sentence are MOST PEOPLE (assumption!). While, someone who is obese might not consider themselves fat, someone who is underweight might strongly disagree.

Still, the question remains, what is FAT? 

Yes, everyone has their opinion, but there needs to be a standard, so  the feds presumptuous BMI scale is often used. As a side note, if you are serious about getting into shape I suggest using body fat percent as a weight loss and body composition tool- I consider it more accurate and beneficial. The issue I have with BMI is that it does not take into account the muscle you have on your body. Basically, if your weight as a whole is larger than what is typical for your height than you are considered overweight or worse. But what about bodybuilders who weigh 300lbs with less than 5% body fat? According to the CDC they are actually obese. What about a marathoner who is 6'1", 140lbs- they are underweight. These must be the exceptions to "most people."  

Alright, so you get the point- we all have different, often skewed visions of what fat is. However, I think most of us can agree that if someone's belly sticks out farther than your shoes and their arms jiggle when they wave, it should be considered fat.

For the longest time I automatically thought overweight people were unhealthy and unfit. That is, until I read Lynne Cox's book Swimming to Antarctica. It is an autobiographical account about her very accomplished long distance swims. Just hearing about her feats of athleticism, swimming in 32 degree water and setting new records for swimming the English Channel, I had no idea she was significantly overweight. She has shown athleticism that many didn't know existed and her weight did no harm, in fact it benefited her. The quote on the front cover says it best, "She is Lance Armstrong with body fat."

It is examples like Lynne Cox that make me believe that overweight people can be just as fit as those with a normal weight. However, being overweight does come with many health risk factors like diabetes, heart disease and orthopedic problems. For these reasons I say it is possible to be overweight and fit, but ultimate health will always be hindered by excess weight. 

Categories: Fitness

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