Healthy At Any Size

There is a lot of truth to the old saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But, like a lot of good advice, it’s often easier said than done.

We are visual creatures and we tend to be very quick to jump to conclusions based on nothing more than what we see. We look at people and situations through our own prejudicial lenses. This is especially true when we form opinions about people based on their weight. I pondered this today when I was out on my run.

So, who is “healthy,” who isn’t healthy, and is that something we can even determine based on nothing more than outward appearances? I know that many of us equate being thin with being healthy, but is that an accurate assumption?

I was coming up behind a woman who was thin, had on running tights and the latest pair of Nike’s. However, when I got closer I realized she had just gone on a Starbucks run.

Nothing against coffee. Lord knows I love it! But, she was carrying a couple of drinks in one hand and smoking with the other. Probably not the healthiest person, although she may have looked the part.

A little while later, I saw someone who would most likely be (based on outward appearances) considered overweight, out of shape and unhealthy. They were actually running.

As a personal trainer, I have certainly gotten this question before. “Can people be overweight and healthy, or are those two things mutually exclusive?”

I want to state unequivocally for the record that I am not a doctor. And although there was a time that I tried to read the Journal of the American Medical Association, (I was dating a doctor and felt like I should brush up so our dinner conversation would never get boring) it tends to put me to sleep.

But there is published research which that indicates overweight and obese people are at no greater risk of developing or dying from heart disease or cancer, compared with normal weight people, as long as they are metabolically fit.

Researchers categorized obese participants as “metabolically healthy” if, aside from their weight, they didn’t suffer from insulin resistance, diabetes, low levels of good cholesterol, high triglycerides or high blood pressure.

Conversely, the research also found that being thin didn’t necessarily translate into being healthy. They might not be overweight, but the metabolically they can still be a hot mess.

The important thing to keep in mind is that people who were considered healthy were active and got regular exercise. They weren’t leading sedentary lifestyles.

If you want to really get into the research, it’s out there, but in the meantime, I think one of the most important things we can do is to be a little less judgmental when we see someone who doesn’t fit our ideal of what a “healthy” person should look like.

There are a lot of good books out there…with all sorts of different covers.