The New York Times recently ran an article saying that a new study came out concluding that healthy obesity does not exist.
For years I have read studies on this subject. For years I have treated patients who would fit into this “fictional category” of healthy obesity.
In nature there are variances. Some of us are tall and some are short, some are thick while some are thin. Some of us will be fat and some will be skinny. We can control some aspects of our weight, but we can’t change our body type. If you are big boned and of a large frame, you are always going to have a large frame.
In our world very rarely are things black and white. I used to think that everything was black and white. As I have gotten older and have matured I have learned that our world is filled with shades of grey. This pertains very well to being in shape and our health.
Someone is not either sick or healthy. Someone is not either in shape or out of shape. There are varying degrees of being in shape. You don’t have to do the same workouts that a professional athlete does to feel good and get into shape. Nor do you have to be in the same shape that a professional athlete is in to get benefits from exercising.
The study published in the New York Times, was a review of studies. It looked at many studies that compared regular weight, metabolically unhealthy individuals to those who were various degrees of overweight and metabolically healthy to unhealthy. They used the BMI (body mass index) to determine if someone is of normal weight versus overweight, or obese.
If someone is metabolically healthy that means that they will have low blood pressure, low cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with decreased chances of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Being metabolically healthy means that the person doesn’t have most of the health issues associated with being obese.
The researchers found that in the short term those who were metabolically healthy and of a normal weight had the same chances of a heart attack or stroke that a person who was metabolically healthy and overweight did.
The issue with being obese and healthy came into play when the researchers looked at the studies that followed the same groups of people for 10 years or more. In the 10 years following, those who were metabolically healthy and overweight had a greater chance of a cardio-vascular incident (stroke, heart attack) than those who were metabolically healthy and of a normal weight.
I feel the BMI is not accurate. Someone going to the bathroom before being measured and weighed can mean the difference between being labeled a normal weight or being labeled overweight.
In most cases, someone who is 150 pounds and in shape will be a little healthier than someone who is 250 pounds and in shape. The lighter person will have less stress on their heart and less stress on their joints.
Will there be a big difference between the 2? It depends on the people. For the most part though, I don’t think there will be a huge difference between the 2.
Okay, so the study said that those who are in shape and overweight will have a greater chance for a heart attack or stroke in 10 years than those who are in shape and of a normal, or moderate weight? So what!
First and foremost, the study authors never said how much of a greater chance of death or a cardio-vascular event the overweight but healthy individuals had compared to the normal weight and healthy individuals. It could be a 2% increase for the chances of a cardio-vascular incident.
If you are overweight, you will be healthier and feel better if you are in shape, no doubt. You will have less of a chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke if you stay in shape, exercise and eat right, even if you are overweight.
It’s not an all or nothing correlation between exercise and health. If you are overweight, you will be healthier and feel better than you would be if you weren’t exercising. Just like if you are of a normal weight, you will be healthier and feel better if you are exercising versus not exercising. Will you be healthier if you are of normal weight and exercising versus overweight and exercising? Sure.
Even if you are overweight, exercising your butt off and not losing weight, you still will be doing yourself good, doing your body good, feeling better, have less pain, have more energy, be able to do more activities, and have less of a chance from dying from health issues associated with being overweight.
As long as you exercise consistently, you will be healthier and feel better than you would otherwise. You will have more energy and less pain. Moving around will be easier. You don’t have to be exercising that second to feel better. As long as you are exercising at least a few times a week, then you will feel better throughout the week and on a consistent basis.
Unfortunately people are going to read the article in the New York Times and get discouraged by it. It is hard enough to start exercising and eating right if you haven’t done it for years. It is hard enough sticking with an exercise program consistently, especially if you have hit a plateau and haven’t lost any weight in a while. It can make it very discouraging to hear that you will only be healthy if you lose weight.
For many people it is not a reality to lose weight and get down to a societal ideal of 120 or 160 pounds. You might as well be asking these people to pick up and move a building. When you factor in someone’s past medical history, prior exercise experience, current pain levels and current activity level, it can be enough to just get a person to move consistently. Let alone working out so hard that they are going to be sweating and huffing and puffing and getting a pump on. If someone who is out of shape and overweight and hasn’t exercised in years goes to a gym and works out hard, they are only going to injure themselves.
You have to ease your way into exercise. If someone doesn’t know about exercise and is advised by their doctor that they have to lose weight, they can easily injure themselves very easily by pushing themselves too hard trying desperately to get into shape.
Unfortunately we all have to take with a grain of salt everything we read these days. And it is no different in the health care, exercise and nutrition industries. There is a lot of faulty and misguided information out there on how to lose weight. In general, if it sounds too good to be true, then it is. You are not going to lose 20 pounds in 1 week and keep it off. It is extremely difficult, if not almost impossible, to lose 20 pounds in 1 month and keep it off.
If you are overweight, as long as you are exercising you will be healthier and feel better than you would be otherwise. Literally every step that you take, takes you one step closer to being in shape and feeling good. You may not be as healthy as someone who is of a moderate weight and exercising consistently. But you will certainly feel better and be in better shape than those who are of moderate weight and not exercising.
This concept is so important I am going to repeat it one more time: every step that you take, takes you one more step closer to being in shape and feeling good.
Read through information about exercise, eating right, dieting, weight loss and getting into shape, with a grain of salt. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. Don’t give in to desperation. That’s when you are most susceptible to marketing ploys and gimmicks that claim to help you lose weight fast but they are expensive and never work.
Be smart about how you exercise and how you eat. Train smarter, not harder. We are not 20 years old anymore, we can’t treat our bodies like we did back then.
Train intelligently. Eat intelligently. Know what you are doing to yourself. It is the Pain Free Way.