I have a co-worker that I work pretty closely with. A few months ago, he realized that a recent change in responsibilities (that took him from on his feet to sitting at a desk) had ended up adding to his waistline. He’s been making major dietary changes and has dropped the pounds and is continuing on his quest to lose more. He and I talk regularly about his progress and how he feels.
One day, he shared something with me that has been festering away in my brain. He wants to get skinny so he can get fit. I pointed out that I’m not skinny and I’m fit. In fact, I could dance circles around quite a few skinny people at the gym. He agreed with me but wouldn’t concede his line of thinking. Fit has to be skinny.
I can’t begin to find adequate words to express how much I disagree with this line of thinking.
I’m not skinny. I weigh over 200 lb and am around 5’8″. I know I’m overweight and I know my eating habits aren’t 100% healthy. I try and make good choices as often as I can but we all have our weaknesses, our demons, our vices. My relationship with food is one of them for me.
But I am fit. I am healthy. I’m due for an annual physical but when I started this journey to become a Healthier Me about a year ago, my first step was to visit my family doctor, tell him what I was doing, what changes I was making, and make sure I was healthy enough to work hard on getting healthier. I also wanted a baseline so I could see improvements and also possibly identify any issues that might prohibit me from accomplishing my goals.
My numbers were good. Needed to up my HDL (good cholesterol) a little. Needed to up my Vitamin D, too. Given the dietary changes I’ve made and that I get outside more often with my running, I’m certain those numbers are improved.
So how do I know I’m fit when I am overweight?
Because I can:
Complete a 5K
Go 2 miles on the stationary bike in 5 minutes
Hold a plank for 1 minute
Wall sit for longer than 1 minute
Run 1/4 mile in 3 minutes
Best of all, I can look back at where I was 1 year ago and see the improvements I’ve made in my abilities, my strength, my endurace. I’m usually 2nd strongest in our boot camp class- the person who gets the highest weights is a man. I’m great at strength training and making continuous improvements in endurance and cardio work.
This morning, I ran the first of the training races in the OrthoIndy 500 Festival Mini Marathon Training Series. Not everyone who participates is in top condition. I’m not in top or prime condition. But everyone who shows up and participates is working towards goals of being fit. There were people of all levels of fitness- and of all body types and shapes and sizes. There were trim, lean, muscular bodies. There were large, cushy bodies. There were bodies with tiny waists and bodies with larger waists. There were tight booties and not tight at all booties. Every person who shows up has a story to tell and their body has a story to tell, too.
When I first started running a year ago, I started to drop weight as a nice little bonus. I dropped about 25 pounds. Then I started getting more serious about strength training and I gained some of that back. I’ve maintained at that weight for months- even as my body changes and my clothes get a little more loose.
The next time you see someone who is of a larger size, don’t assume they aren’t fit. Don’t assume they don’t care about physical activity. You never know what their story is… or what it is going to become. If you are on a journey to live a healthier lifestyle, don’t focus on the scale. The numbers don’t dictate your success. Instead, go run a mile. Maybe you can’t even finish that mile the first time. Maybe you walk it in 20 minutes. Maybe you run it in 12 minutes. Then keep working at it. In a month, maybe you’ll be running that mile instead of walking. Maybe you’ll take minutes off your time. Those are the keys to being fit.
Skinny does not equal fit. Body size does not define how you are doing on your journey.