, Did You Know, Health News, Latest NewsCan You Be Fit AND “Fat?”

Can You Be Fit AND “Fat?”

From NBC Nightly News, I bring you this delicate little issue with the sensational little title.

My thoughts were, of course you can be fit and “fat.” And considering how “fat” in America is anything over a size 4 – depending upon who you talk to – MANY of us are “fat” in someone else’s eyes… clearly that doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as the stuff that keeps us alive. That stuff is filed under that “fit” label.

Those who I’ve dialogued with outside of the site know how I feel about this “fat” thing. As I’ve said before, my primary goal was just being a healthy weight. The vanity aspect of it came when I could afford to be vain and think about looks.. which, basically, was when I had my health situated.

There’s a point in that clip that disturbed me, though – the thinner woman said, “Because I am thin, because I’ve never been sick,” she never thought that her system could be in such bad shape because her body wasn’t in bad shape. I think that the American understanding that our “outer” is a direct reflection of our “inner” is what’s making it so hard for us to have these conversations about health.

What do I mean? I mean that we keep connecting a person’s size to their ability to be healthy. It shortchanges the people on both ends of the spectrum. If being obese is the epitome of poor health, then if I’m superskinny I should be good, right? I should be able to avoid all of that, right? Ever heard of metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a series of diseases that appear in the body in conjunction with one another as a result of a poor diet yet doesn’t always result in obesity. It creeps up on people because, since they believe their small frames alleviate them of the responsibility of caring for their systems, they tend to not only ignore any warning signs that their habits might be unhealthy but this also results in them continuing in said damaging behavior!

I guess I wanted to share this because I want us to stop thinking this skinny/fat thing is so linear. Good health manifests itself within ourselves mentally as well as physically. It extends itself far beyond a nice body. Taking care of ourselves means inside as WELL as outside. Don’t let yourselves get caught up in BEING skinny or shooting for skinny. Aim for better health first and foremost, and I can assure you everything else will become MUCH simpler!

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By | 2017-06-10T11:28:07+00:00 December 2nd, 2013|Debunking The Myths, Did You Know, Health News, Latest News|36 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.


  1. Tracy February 2, 2010 at 4:48 PM - Reply

    On the other end of the spectrum, I’d hate for a “fat” person that is healthy to rest upon that. I believe that I am healthy and can do a lot of things that “skinny” girls can do. However, I would have for a “fat” person to receive a clean bill of health and feel as though they don’t have to lose weight.

    • Katryna March 4, 2011 at 7:30 PM - Reply

      But Tracy, if the “fat” person receives a clean bill of health, why should she have to lose weight? If the fat isn’t actually impacting her negatively, then who are we to say that she has too much of it? What if she is eating healthfully and exercising and she stays the exact same weight?

      I believe we should all be healthy, but when things like this are said, then it’s really about aesthetics. The problem with the aesthetic focus is that it gives others the ability to presume to set priorities for you. If a fat person with a clean bill of health chooses not to go the extra mile and lose weight, it’s really up to her and not anyone else.

      • Aja May 22, 2012 at 10:23 AM - Reply

        Fat with a clean bill of health… currently. Yeah that is great. But what is to said for the next couple of months, or years? The thing that I dislike so much about our culture (medicine mainly) is that we are very symptom-conscious. This whole mentality to take action when the body decides to display signs of disease. Instead of taking preventive measures. We see daily what people are going through as a results of not acting. I have a skinny friend who doesn’t see that her once a week bm’s, insomnia and awful menstrual periods could be a sign that she is unhealthy. Why?because she is thin. We know that having a great deal of fat around your organs isn’t healthy so what if you don’t have high blood pressure, a cholesterol problems etc…. right now. Those issues don’t happen overnight they happen over time and are progressive. So does the fact that this woman has a clean bill of health currently surprise me? No. The human body is resilient and will do alot but when it fails it fails. Why chance it?

  2. Erika February 2, 2010 at 5:05 PM - Reply

    I don’t know, Tracy… I’d have to wonder – how much weight are we talking? Like I mentioned earlier, everyone has different definitions of “fat.” Would they be losing weight purely for aesthetic purposes at that point?

    • Aja May 22, 2012 at 10:28 AM - Reply

      Currently I am 5’4″ and 138. When folks see me or inquire about my efforts to lose weight and build muscle it is so frustrating to explain. No, I don’t look fat to you, Yes I have been the same weight since my third child was born. But what you don’t see is that the composition of my body is not what it used be a 138. I am flabby, lack muscle tone and I am not the same. I am fat not in the aesthetic way, but health-wise I am fat. I hope that I am making sense.

  3. Tracy February 2, 2010 at 7:23 PM - Reply

    Based on the results in the video, I guess it would be aesthetic. And you’re right. “Fat” is subjective, especially in America. However, we hear all the time that “you might be healthy now, but your weight CAN (and WILL) eventually lead to health problems.” If it’s true that one can be fit and “fat,” then why encourage people to lose weight? Even at my weight and all my stats being good, should I even bother losing weight? I get so confused with all these reports. As soon as I try to lose weight to get “healthy” and save myself from future complications, I get reports telling me that I can be healthy and fat. I feel like a hamster on a wheel…

    • Caressa March 24, 2013 at 5:48 AM - Reply

      Tracy, I totally feel you. I was the same way my whole life until I started educating myself and realized what fat, calories, energy, etc. actually was. Don’t listen to anybody but your own body. An abundance of fat simply means that, for whatever reason, you are eating more calories than your body is burning. So the doctor may say you are healthy literally, but you know your body. If you can grab a hefty handfull of body fat, then you are probably eating too many calories and need to adjust your diet and bump up your exercise. As long as you are eating healthy and exercising, the weight will come off and your body will adjust (of course this will happen slowly, but it will be permanent). Don’t attempt to lose weight, attempt to live healthy, focus on total wellness, and it will be much easier for you. Your body will tell you what you need

  4. Ashley February 2, 2010 at 7:28 PM - Reply

    I have a friend who is SKINNY as a beanpole and she just got diagnosed with high cholesterol. I think it’s partially due to her love of butter and partially from genetics. No matter what you look like, it’s important to have a balanced diet and lots of exercise!

  5. Brittany February 3, 2010 at 9:17 AM - Reply

    I am SO going to be posting this video (and linking you of course) on my blog. I am much like the “fat” woman in the video in that I work-out daily, eat well but still manage to weigh about 180-ish and wear a size 12. On the outside I may not “look” like I work-out as much as I do but my doctor says I am in great health and my BP has gone from the 140’s to 120’s.

    I do wish the disclaimer was a little more thorough. “Healthy” can come in all sizes but there are a lot of us that think being “thick” without weight/diet consideration is okay.

    Great post!

  6. Erika February 4, 2010 at 11:53 AM - Reply

    @Tracy, I think we’re mixing signals, here. If a person has a clean bill of health and their weight is kept in check, losing weight would be for aesthetic purposes. And when I say “kept in check,” I mean as in it doesn’t fluctuate to beyond 5lbs north or south of an intended goal.

    I think you’re touching on a bigger issue within mixed signals, here. Additional weight isn’t usually the problem, it’s a visible symptom of the larger problem… which IS an unhealthy lifestyle. You’re generally told to “lose weight” because there’s a market for thing to HELP you lose weight. The woman in the video didn’t need to lose weight, and she was all jacked up on the insides – hence the problem with the focus being on LOSING WEIGHT and not being HEALTHY.

    Combine that with the fact that the image of the “tiny woman” is constantly being put in our faces, and the message quickly becomes “lose weight, be healthy.” It then mutates into “lose weight to be healthy.” All wrong. You feel me?

    If you are completely healthy and living a healthy and active lifestyle, you couldn’t possibly keep on the excess weight. It’s not physically possible. Because of that, I question the definition of “healthy” we are using here. I don’t know you or your stats to pass judgment, so I hope you don’t think that’s what I’m doing. But this is why I always say the focus should be on living a healthier lifestyle.. because once you fix that, the weight literally FALLS off. You dig?

    Having said allllll that… at the end of the day, we just need to be honest with ourselves. Honest about what “fit” and “healthy” really mean, whether we are “close to” or “far away from” the definition of those… and what we really want out of life. After that.. just go after it. That’s all. 🙂

  7. PhluffyPrincess February 19, 2010 at 7:52 PM - Reply

    great post! i agree wholeheartedly with your objection to the statement “because i am thin i have never been sick” that is not true. being within a healthy weight just places you at lower risk, not guarantees you will not ever be sick or develop certain diseases.

  8. Hidi March 11, 2010 at 8:43 PM - Reply

    I like your article; it’s really interesting.


  9. Heli August 12, 2010 at 3:11 PM - Reply

    I haven’t watched the video (I’m at work) but this issue is a big one for me. I am active, eat a healthier diet than most people I know (whole fresh foods, tons of veggies, no refined sugar or starch, etc.), and I am also still overweight. I can definitely do more to lose weight more quickly, and I am plodding along on that journey, but I totally disagree with the idea that if you’re doing everything right, eating well, exercising, and living a healthy and active lifestyle, you cannot possibly keep any excess weight on. That’s simply not true. A 40yr old woman who eats a moderate diet of 1400 calories coming from fresh whole foods, and who gets an hour of real exercise every day (Zumba, weights, whatever), could very easily hold on to an extra 30-40lbs forever. I would argue that she is healthy and fit while being overweight. Aging, metabolic resistance, body type, heredity, and other factors all come into play.

    The weight doesn’t fall off as easily as we women get older. Sure, if a person is making a lifestyle change and suddenly becoming a better eater, starting to work out, etc., yes, those lifestyle corrections will bring positive changes. But if someone is already a healthy eater, already getting adequate vigorous exercise, already doing everything right, she could be very healthy by all metrics and still be overweight.

    • Erika August 12, 2010 at 3:52 PM - Reply

      I’m sorry, we’ll simply have to agree to disagree.

      I’ve already written about aging here, but if a 40yr old woman is still holding onto 30-40lbs, its because she is creating an environment that allows for that 30-40lbs to be maintain. 1400 calories and active EVERY day? 30-40lbs? I’m sorry, I’d require more details regarding “1400 calories from fresh whole foods” because “fresh whole foods” can be abused just like processed foods. Add to that the fact that most people more often than not underreport their caloric intake? No, I’m sorry… there’s not enough detail for me to change my stance on that. I can understand the struggle, but 30-40 is a little much to be claiming to do everything right.

      If a woman is still having trouble losing weight after “doing everything right,” then outside of a hormonal imbalance (which, at 40, if you’re enduring a hormonal issue – as, unfortunately, a lot of us do – you should feel like an exception to what I’m saying here, anyway) it means you simply need to change your environment/intake/activity.

      I don’t want you to think I’m chiding you or chastizing you, but since you offered your situation up as a reason for me to not think the way I do, I did take a look at it honestly. I hope you don’t feel offended, because I know that kind of scrutiny can put people off.

      • Bannef May 18, 2011 at 9:42 PM - Reply

        See, this is confusing me – the woman in the video who exercises regularly, and has a doctor saying she is healthy – has a BMI of 29.8. As someone who has a pretty similar BMI, that isn’t too different from being 30-40 pounds overweight. (I don’t know her height, so I can’t say for sure, but let’s just say I’m a 28 and am approximately 30-35 pounds overweight). So… Is she not doing everything right, even though her doctor says she is? (Obviously she might be lying to him about her food intake and exercise level, but she can’t lie about the fact that “healthy” presumably means her weight isn’t fluctuating greatly over visits, and she sure as hell can’t hide a bad heart or cholesterol.) So isn’t this video going against what you said – that weight just “falls off” when someone has healthy practices?

        (And for the record, I DEFINITELY don’t have healthy practices, and in fact guess that genes are the only reason I’m not heavier. Of course I’m working to change that – that’s why I’m here! – but this is just the disclaimer saying I’m not talking about me. :D)

        • Erika Nicole Kendall May 18, 2011 at 9:58 PM - Reply

          People can avoid disease and maintain health without living 100% healthily. Perhaps that last few percentage points are what keep the additional weight on for her. Perhaps she likes the additional weight. I’own know – I gave up trying to size up other people’s bodies a long time ago, mama.

  10. Trina August 12, 2010 at 4:12 PM - Reply

    People look at me and think I’m unhealthy all the time. I’m a runner. I watch what I eat religiously…there are no short cuts. I work out everyday to the point that I don’t miss a day…haven’t missed a day since June 4th and I may still be mad about that…LOL! I’m really good at maintaining weight, but not particularly good at losing it. I have test results…I’m not borderline anything–hypertensive, diabetic, cholesterol is excellent. But I am a big girl–again, this is subjective…to my eyes, I’m fat, to friends and guys, I’m thick and to the doctors, I’m super morbidly obese (at a size 14). I don’t believe that my weight will eventually lead to complications—I mean, what more can I do? I’m healthy, the doctor says I’m healthy. Yeah, folks give me the side eye when I say that, but *kanye shrug*

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