As someone who has been on the heavier side at times and who will most likely never be called thin I am always curious when I read articles about the question of can you be fat and fit at the same time? Now most articles say no. Excess weight is a detriment to your heart and depending on what you do for exercise can put a strain on joints. Now I have also read other articles about being skinny fat which is just as detrimental. Basically if you sum it all up excess body fat is bad. Now if you have been reading my blog you will know recently I had my own excess body fat moment. (Side note: booked to get remeasured soon...skeptical much has changed). What these articles fail to do is define what the term fit really means. And should body fat be the only measure of how fit someone is?
I personally think being fit is more than body fat percentage, or BMI number or weight. When I discuss or think about fitness I think about strength, cardio endurance but also how someone feels about themselves. You may be a lean mean marathoning machine but if you are not happy with your body are you mentally fit? There is only so much you can change about your body before genetics are what they are.
I personally used to value my body solely on how it looked. Does my stomach look flat? Are my triceps mimicking a chicken wing? Am I thin enough? But this is dangerous because this kind of focus places a whole lot of pressure on appearance and gives little appreciation for what my body actually does. As I get older, hey we are all doing it, gravity and the sun will take its toll and there will be little I can do to combat it (wear sunscreen kids). But what I can do is be active and keep my cardio system strong, work on gaining strength and appreciate that this body has crossed numerous running event finish lines and has many more to cross!
What got me thinking about all this was this article about plus sized marathon runners. As an avid runner who has gotten comments such as "you are pretty fast for a big girl" and my favorite "no offense (news flash: if you have to start the sentence with the phrase no offense it is going to be offensive) but I hate it when bigger people like you pass me" without actually being that heavy I am always, always happy to see articles about people of all shapes and sizes getting out there and doing amazing things like running marathons. Even us "big" girls and boys. My favorite quote from the plus sized marathon article-
“I spent a lot of my life dieting and waiting for another body to show up so I could do the things I want to do,” she says. “This is the body I have, so I decided to take it out for a spin.”
I do not think we can define fit solely by body fat percentage. I am no doctor (sorry, was that statement over the top obvious ;)) but I would argue that a person who has slightly higher body fat but appreciates what their body can do for them as they power through marathons and 5ks and triathlons is healthier than a person with a perfect body fat percentage but feels negatively about their body. Now I do not make this argument simply because I fall into a higher body fat percentage and like my body but because I am a big believer that a positive mental attitude and a willingness to try to push yourself goes a long way. I also believe that accepting and appreciating your body for what it is and what it can do right in this moment is a positive step towards fitness and gives yourself permission to get out there and try new things. This builds the momentum to take other positive steps towards fitness such as increasing the time spent focused on your health through being active and eating right.
So can someone by fat &fit? I would say yes they can, I am.