Friday, February 23, 2018

Overweight but Healthy

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Is body weight an accurate fitness indicator? New research proves a good workout leads to improved health, despite those extra pounds …

False Assumptions

A person’s size is often associated with his/her fitness level. Yet, being thin does not make one a marathon runner. Being overweight does not signal a life filled with syndicated TV. You can’t judge a body by its cover. A large person could be thriving in health underneath. Thin does not mean physically fit.

For those relentlessly sweating away on the Exercise Floor, taking the stairs, and declining the sweets, have hope. Efforts are not in vain. Regular exercisers should not be overly concerned with the bathroom scale. It does not determine a person’s health or fitness level.

Focus on Fitness

Focus on overall health.
Focus on overall health.

Although pounds may not be pouring off, working out can improve the fat to muscle ratio and affect where fat is distributed. Health experts warn of the dangers associated with belly fat, including diabetes and heart disease. Exercise helps eliminate problematic visceral fat, which packs around the organs in this area. Although you may not fit into skinny jeans, your deep abs may be firm. Body shape (middle roundness) is a more accurate predictor of health than weight or even body mass index, as per recent findings.

Exercise also releases hormones that help transform fat cells into a more metabolically active form that help the body burn calories. Feel-good hormones are released, which improve mood and reduce mental fatigue and stress. This has a cyclical effect. After experiencing these benefits of exercise, you begin to feel more worthy of investing the precious time and energy necessary to continue with a healthy lifestyle.

Athletes use excess weight to their advantage. The added pounds increase resistance with every movement, helping them become stronger simply by carrying their own body. An obese athlete’s lungs learn to compensate for fat in the chest cavity. S/he can develop the capacity to produce higher airflow to deliver oxygen throughout the body. These accommodations deserve respect. They also help explain how even the heaviest among us manage to become Olympic athletes. Their top accomplishments: competitions that focus on endurance and strength.

Unlike vanity gyms, the Center embraces all shapes, sizes, and situations. Many often overcome physical limitations by merely learning a new way to move, exercise, and experience life. Carrying self-consciousness along your journey affects the scale. It weighs you down and helps the pounds stick. You are less able to overcome weight-associated stereotypes and become your best self.

Self-image is often more relevant than the amount of weight lost or the type of exercises performed. Improvements transcend this. Suddenly, the spirit within becomes truly self-satisfied. The person reflected in the mirror shines from the inside out.

Create an arsenal of fitness programs that work for you. Enjoy them. Rotate them. Take advantage of your free personal trainer evaluations and nurse assessments at the Center. Learn where you can improve on fitness. Once you confirm you are doing all possible to lose weight, go boldly and confidently forward. Take pride in your fitness abilities and use them as motivation. There are many factors that contribute to who we are. Body weight is just one of them. And, sometimes, fitness has nothing to do with that.

Keep Going– For the Health of It

There's more to fitness than weight loss.
There’s more to fitness than weight loss.

Although you may not be losing weight, you do lose health risk factors typically associated with excessive body weight. Obese individuals can be metabolically healthy, meaning they can lack the combination of risk factors that increase threat for serious conditions, such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Experts attribute this overall metabolic health to a person’s fitness level.

Regular exercise improves overall health, including muscles, organs, bones, and bodily systems, regardless of that person’s body weight. Fitness level is perhaps a better indicator of health than obesity status.

Previously, an overweight person would automatically be assumed at greater risk for myriad health concerns. Today’s data proves a person can be simultaneously obese and healthy. The “healthy obese” person has more in common with a person of healthy weight than with the sedentary obese.

Death rates of the fit obese population are the same as the lean unfit. A long-term study of 25,000 men showed physical fitness can protect against premature death, regardless of body weight.  More than ever, physicians are encouraged to investigate a patient’s lifestyle factors, which greatly attribute to health.

If you belong to the heavier set, it is time to make peace with it. You are not alone. Despite regular exercise and proper nutrition, many struggle to reach their goal weight. Of those who do reach it, about two-thirds struggle to maintain the loss. It helps to recognize the extensive benefits of a healthy lifestyle. It might not be reflected on the scale, but your body may be running at its peak.  Countless studies prove the health risks of obesity can be counteracted by a commitment to moderate exercise.

You fit in.
You fit in.

As with much in life, when you stop looking is often when you discover. Accomplish weight loss goals along the way. Try making them a secondary goal of your healthy lifestyle. An added perk. Just get out there and be your physically active best. The world is happening and there are no size requirements. You fit in, regardless of size.


“Can You Be Fat but Fit?” by Peg Rosen, Fitness magazine, June 2013.

“Fat but Fit People as Healthy as Normal Weight Ones: Research,” by Rebecca Smith at

“Personal Health; Fat but Fit: A Myth about Obesity Is Slowly Being Debunked,” by Jane E. Brody at

Image Credits

Exercise Ball (introductory photo):


Scale with error:


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  1. I would have liked the article better if the model was more clearly a healthy “plus size”

  2. Ask your joints if they enjoy the excess weight…

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