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Weight Loss & Health Tips Revealed: Can I Be Fit And Fat?

We all have an image of "fit" - lean, even thin, with a healthy glow. Many researchers are now beginning to question that picture of fitness - there may be more to being "fit" and less to being "fat" than conventional wisdom suggests.

What Are The Dangers Of Extra Weight

Carrying extra weight can put stress on your body. People who are overweight - that is, who weigh more for their height than is considered healthy - may be at increased risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and strokes, and may put additional pressure on their joints.

So Thin People Are In Danger Too?

However, as recent debates among scientists show, the "fit = thin" equation may hide a more complex situation. Often, when an overweight person begins to exercise and eat healthier foods, measures of their health improve. It might be that blood pressure and cholesterol improve because of weight loss that comes with exercise. But, researchers like Steven Blair argue, it may be that the exercise itself makes us healthier. As we exercise and eat better, our metabolism - the use of food to build and repair the body and make energy - changes, and that's what makes us healthy. The weight loss is a sort of "side effect" of the changes we've made in lifestyle.

Focus On Your Body's Functions, Not Appearance:

Glenn Glaesser, author of Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health, endorses the idea of metabolic fitness. He suggests that we not focus on height-to-weight ratios (like the body-mass index or BMI) but on other measures of how your body is functioning, like cholesterol level, blood pressure, blood sugar and waist-to-hip ratio. His research suggests that it's possible to be fit and not have the slender figure we see in so many fashion magazines and movies. Conversely, if you are slender and sedentary, you may have health risks, regardless of your physique.

But don't replace one equation with another simplistic one: fat = fine. A balance seems to be the thing that all the experts agree on.

Balance Is Important:

If you fit the standard body-mass index definition of obese, how do you achieve the balance? Start out by finding out more about your health. Check your fat-to-muscle ratio. See if you're carrying a healthy amount of fat on your body relative to muscle (your local Y may be able to estimate your body fat for you at low cost). Ask your healthcare provider check your blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart function. Your nurse practitioner or doctor can help you think about small changes in diet and exercise that can help you get more fit, show you what parts of your metabolic health are doing well, what could use work. And lastly, check your own functioning: are there things you'd like to do that you haven't been able to? Are you getting tired on the dance floor more often than you'd like?

Take Improvement Step-By-Step:

Then, start slowly incorporating changes into your life - you may need to change how much you eat, what you eat, how much you exercise, or some combination, to achieve better health. Check back regularly with your health care worker, who can help you monitor progress. You may lose some weight in the process. You might not, initially, but do yourself a favor and take your measurements as well. The weight may not change, but you may find yourself becoming slimmer simply because muscle weighs a lot but doesn't take up as much room as fat does!

As your health and metabolic status improves, you may find that you aren't at the "perfect" weight. The jury is still out on whether losing extra weight to reach the "ideal" is necessary for the best health. However, don't be discouraged and quit your newly healthy lifestyle: the new research does tell us that fitness, whatever your weight, brings you health benefits that will stand you in good stead - and help you enjoy your fun activities today.

Blair S., "The fitness, obesity, and health equation: is physical activity the common denominator?" Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 292, issue 10, pages1232-1234, 2004

Blair, S., "Modifiable behavioral factors as causes of death. "Journal of the American Medical Association Volume 291, issue 24 pages 2942-2943, 2004

Blair, S.N. "Revisiting fitness and fatness as predictors of mortality," Clinical Journal of Sport Volume 13, issue 5, pages 319-320, 2003

Conus, F, "Metabolic and behavioral characteristics of metabolically obese but normal-weight women,"Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Volume 89, issue 10, pages 5013-5020, 2004

Copyright (C) Shoppe.MD, and Ian Mason, 2004-2005

Learn more about health, diet and exercise at our weight loss forum. is a popular discussion forum for weight loss programs, diet advice, and tips to help you burn fat.

All the best,

Ian Mason

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