Are You Skinny Fat?

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Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Fast forward to today, this same model weighs 23% less! To top that off, most runway models meet the BMI (body mass index) criteria for anorexia. Our obsession with being thin moves us away from health and focuses on all the wrong things. I just have to wonder-are we skinny fat?

Obviously with two-thirds of our population being either overweight or obese, most of us don’t have to worry about being too thin. We do, however, have to be worried about what we’re striving to look like. Flip through any magazine or watch what’s on TV-you will see stick-thin models seductively staring back at you. Even if you don’t admit it, I know most of us compare ourselves to thin people and promise to give up our favorite treat, tomorrow (of course!).

So just for fun, let’s say you do get to this coveted skinny place you have wanted for oh so long. I can speak from experience-my weight got dangerously low in my early 20’s and I loved what the scale read back to me. Even in this desired state, I was constantly sick and just did not look healthy at all. Could I go out and run for miles on end? No. Could I do pushups, jump lunges or planks? That’s a big heck no! I was what you would call the classic state of skinny fat. I didn’t care what food did for my health, I just made sure I kept my total calories low. And what’s worse is that I got compliments all the time that just reinforced the whole thing. Ridiculous!

So what’s the big deal about trying to be skinny? There are two components here that beg to be discussed. First off, are you healthy, and second, what will you do when the weight creeps on around the fun age of 40? Let’s look at the first question. Yes, you can absolutely be skinny and be fat. When I do an assessment for a new personal training client, I always check their body fat. I cannot tell you how many “thin” people come to me that have body fat in the unhealthy range. It blows my mind. By having such a high amount of body fat even with your weight being acceptable, you are still at risk for many diseases. Scientists call this “normal weight obesity” and they found the fat to be in hidden places and wreaking havoc on our health. According to Dr. Peter Vash of Lindora Clinic, “That fat interferes with the liver’s metabolism to cause it to raise certain metabolic risk factors. So some people may look normal weight, but they have this increased visceral deep fat that causes them to have higher risk for diabetes and hypertension heart disease.” (Source: ABC) I would suspect this is why heart disease is considered the silent killer-thin people assume they’re healthy.

Now part two-being 40 and for the first time experiencing extra baggage around the middle and other undesirable places. This can be a bit tricky because you may, for the first time in your life, have to really look at your diet and exercise program. Think about living a certain way for 40 years and then having to make big changes-this is very hard to do! This is why I strongly advise people not to use their weight in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s as their sole guide. It is very important to ensure that you are eating healthy, are regularly exercising and all your numbers check out at the doctor’s office.

So what to do? I would first suggest making a conscious effort to stop idolizing these super skinny models and start looking up to truly healthy role models. Instead of getting hung up on the number on the scale, toss it out the window and get a new compass. Look at other indicators-do you have energy, are you fit, do you feel good about yourself? Get your numbers checked and use health as your guide. Besides-didn’t you get the memo?? Strong is the NEW skinny!

*The information on this site is designed for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Thank you!

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~by Kimberly Olson

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