Can you be fit and fat?

I have been overweight most of my life. Maybe when I was in elementary school I wasn’t overweight, but I know for a fact that from middle school on I was overweight. I was grossly overweight out of high school and in my mid-twenties I am guesstimating that I weighed well over 300 pounds (I have guessed 330’ish). I will never know how much I weighed at my heaviest for certain because when I was at my heaviest you couldn’t trick me to step on a scale even if you had a chocolate donut stuck to one.

But one thing was always curious to me: my blood pressure and cholesterol levels and other basic tests of my health always came back positive. I never developed any sort of diabetes, never had high blood pressure (although my face used to turn red quickly the arm in a pump test never said I had high blood pressure) and probably most shockingly was the fact that my good and bad cholesterol levels were always well within acceptable limits.

I ate pretty crappy for quite a while. Then I ate better, but still ate a lot of bread (sorry, new found Paleo Travis dissing old school turkey Subway eating Travis) but no matter when I was tested I was never prescribed any medications or had any suggestions of cutting out salt or changing my diet. I am sure it was a major shock to every doctor who tested me based on my appearance.

Now, I am definitely healthier. I know I am. I have lost 80 pounds from my highest known weight (guessing it is closer to 130 from my highest guesstimated weight). I recently had a physical and, as usual, all my blood work came back positive. I asked the doctor about some loose skin I have and he thinks I won’t lose it, but I think I can prove him wrong. I currently sit at about 200 pounds and I think I can get to 190 for sure. Maybe 180 someday? Who knows?

Today I read this and I got kind of fired up at first: “Big deal: You can be fat and fit”

My first reaction was “BS!”. This was obviously written by some overweight person who just hasn’t ever had the proper motivation and been driven enough to lose weight. I used to be that person. I used to think I couldn’t lose weight. Then I had kids, started running diligently, often and didn’t skip workouts and here I am 80 pounds lighter.

I wrote something similar to this before (here). There is definitely a trend or movement in the United States by fat people that say “screw you, US of A, I am fat and I am pretty and I am healthy!” Screw science, screw the fact that I can’t walk up steps without losing my breath or that my back hurts on a daily basis or that I let out a sigh of relief when doing something as simple as sitting on the toilet – I AM HEALTHY!! It is bull crap. It is a rebellious act and it isn’t true.

I used to think I was somewhat healthy based on my blood work and I used to think I was happy, too. I wasn’t. I am much happier now and certainly much healthier.

The article on CNN first links to an article that supposedly says obese individuals are not more likely to die from cancer as fit individuals. Problem #1 with that piece is that it uses BMI and BMI is garbage. There are much better ways to determine if someone is overweight or not. Matt Chan, the second fittest man in the world according to the CrossFit Games is listed at 5’10” and 208 (I bet he weighs closer to 220) and according to the BMI calculator, using 210 lbs, Matt Chan is obese. He is FAR from obese. I bet he has around 10% body fat, or less! The second issue it talks about is cancer. Cancer isn’t related to your weight, but rather other health factors. There are plenty of skinny folks who smoke.

The CNN article also seems to lump all overweight people into the same category when, really, there should be several. There are those who are slightly overweight, those who are obese and those who are morbidly obese – all very different. I have no doubt that there are guys and gals walking around this Earth who could easily lose 20-30 pounds but are still fit. I see “overweight” individuals all the time at various 5k and 10k runs that run the entire race.

And I know a few “skinny” people that can’t run 100 feet.

You know how good it feels, for a guy my size, to run past a “skinny” person during a 5k? It happens ALL THE TIME.

So, as I read this piece I think there is another factor to be discussed: not all skinny people are healthy.

I know of at least a few “skinny” people who almost certainly have worse blood work than I, are much more sedentary, eat much worse and smoke and are DEFINITELY at a higher risk of preventable death than I am.

Just because you are fat doesn’t mean you are NOT fit. And just because you are skinny does not mean you ARE fit. I agree with that point, but it shouldn’t be used as a crutch to not lose weight and get healthier. I would love to see the blood work of the lady who wrote the piece on CNN. I am guessing it isn’t pretty.


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