I came across an interesting phrase that my sister-in-law used recently. She referred to some of her friends as “skinny fat”. The term, she explained, referred to people who were a healthy weight but did absolutely nothing to improve their physical fitness. They were skinny on the outside but ‘fat’ on the inside. This raises an important distinction that is essential to grasp if you want to not just be a healthy weight but actually be a healthy person. There is a difference between body weight and health. While it is not possible to be obese and healthy (see my prior post The Myth of the Healthy Obese) it is possible to be normal weight and unhealthy. For this reason it is essential for your health that exercise and proper nutrition (not just calorie restriction) be a regular and central part of your weight loss plan. Your goal should not just be to lose weight, it should be to become a healthier person. Losing the weight is not enough.
I was very inspired to discuss this issue with you from a video I saw on crossfit.com called “From Couch to Capable” about a woman named Robin Edds. You can see the video by clicking here. It is about a women who weighed well over 300 pounds and underwent gastric bypass surgery. If you’re not familiar with the procedure I wrote a post on it a year ago called “Weight Loss Surgery Explained: Gastric Bypass Surgery“. She had a very successful surgery and got down to 150 pounds. In spite of that very successful outcome she describes how she was no more fit than she was when she was 330 pounds. She was still very limited in her activities. Sure she could fit into tighter spaces, but she was only marginally better off than before the surgery. What’s worse, the surgery affected her ability to absorb essential nutrients leaving her tired and generally unwell.
She eventually walked into a Crossfit gym and started their program. If you don’t know about Crossfit®, you should really look into it. You can read more about it here. In my opinion it is the most efficient and effective way to improve your fitness. You only have to watch and see what Ms. Edds is now capable of doing. You also are capable of improving your fitness but you have to commit yourself to make exercise a central part of your life. It doesn’t have to be with Crossfit®, but it has to be high quality, high intensity stuff that gets your backside off the couch and in gear. This is important for weight loss maintenance as well. The problem with weight loss alone as a primary goal is that most people, after they achieve their goal weight, stop doing whatever they were doing to be successful. They then gain the weight back. If your goal is fitness, then you always have new heights and goals to achieve and you’ll never have a chance to rebound. So make fitness and health your goal and you’re guaranteed to lose weight and keep it off. Remember, the opposite of fit is unfit. And you can be skinny and still be fat.