Television advertising, magazines, movies and websites relentlessly bombard us with images of the supposed beauty ideal, where women are thin and big-busted and often assumed to be healthy because they look the part. But there is a hu-u-uge difference between looking healthy and being healthy. Infact, being skinny doesn’t always mean healthy.
Well, it depends on how you define ‘healthy’ and ‘skinny’. If you define healthy as merely ‘anything but fat’, and skinny as ‘Keira Knightley’, then yes, all you skinny people are ‘healthy’. But is health merely a visual absence of obesity? Go on, take a guess. If your answer is ‘yes’, you are gravely mistaken!
A healthy person has a sound body, mind and spirit. Even if we ignore the psychological and spiritual aspects of health for the matter of this discussion, skinny is not a sound state of body. In nature, too much either way of any optimum is harmful. So, while obesity is a much-publicized danger, the other end of the spectrum is also harmful, possibly even more so.
Let’s shoo the elephant out of the room right away.
Don’t Be Skinny Fat
A new research points to just how dangerous being skinny can be — if you are a “skinny fat” person. The medical term for this is “MONW,” or metabolically obese normal weight. It means you are under lean but over fat — not enough muscle and too much fat (especially belly fat). It seems it is better to be fat and fit than thin and out of shape.
The shocking news from a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is that nearly 1 in 4 skinny people have pre-diabetes and are “metabolically obese.”
What’s worse is that if you are a skinny fat person and get diagnosed with diabetes, you have twice the risk of death than if you are overweight when diagnosed with diabetes.
Type of Fat Matters Too
Another study has shown that it’s not just being fat, but the kind of fat that’s the issue. Time.com reported on the study.
[F]at deposited just under the skin doesn’t contribute that much to the development of metabolic disorders such as diabetes or heart problems. But fat accumulated in deeper tissues and organs, within muscle and embedded in organs like the liver, for example, can put you at greater risk of these diseases. And that goes for lean people too: they might not have much visible fat under the skin, but may be sequestering so-called visceral fat inside their body.”
Are You Super Thin?
Exercise is important for both lowering cholesterol and staving off diabetes. If you’re super thin, you may think that you don’t need to exercise but this is just false according to Oz Garcia, Ph.D., nutritionist, who wrote about one surprised patient:
A few years ago, one of my thinner clients who looked externally healthful came to me for a consultation after she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Rightfully, she was nervous and confused and couldn’t understand how she had developed this disease, she thought only “fat” people were diagnosed with these types of conditions. When asked if she exercised, she shook her head, stating that she had never really had to think about exercising or eating healthy, that she had always been lucky to have such a great metabolism.
Moreover, If you’re not doing any weight bearing exercise because you’re thin and you’re not eating a healthy whole foods diet for the same reason, you could end up with brittle bones and even osteoporosis. You want to have some muscular tone in addition to being thin in order to avoid bone density issues later on.
Being healthy starts with your attitude. How you look at yourself and the world around you play a major role in your overall health. If your glass is always half empty, you are probably sabotaging all of your healthy living efforts.
Health comes in all shapes and sizes. Being fit is not defined by one standard “look”. Every body is different and beautiful and it is up to you to embrace yours and define it the way that makes you feel the best about yourself.
Health is balance. This is balance in every sense of the word. Exercise, diet, stress, sleep, work, family, you need to find balance in your life in order to be healthy.
Health is different for everyone. The aspects of being healthy for me may be very different for you. Take some time think about what being healthy means to you. You need to love you, exactly the way you are right now while striving to make changes in your health habits.
So, Focus on being healthy, not skinny. Eating a balanced diet and finding coping strategies to deal with stress are a good start, as is getting regular exercise, which aside from the obvious physical benefits also boosts feelings of happiness and well-being.
How do you view skinny vs. healthy?