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Skinny Does Not = Fit

Posted Oct 13 2010 7:00am

Woman 3 ExercisingOne of the advantages of working for a large corporation is the extra perks that come with it. When I worked for HBO Sports a few years ago (a division of the Time Warner media conglomerate), I was able to use the company gym for very small fee. If my memory serves me right, H.R. deducted about $10 a week from my paycheck, and for anyone who has lived in New York City, you know that is a (cha-ching) bargain!

Before obtaining official member status, they had to assess my physical fitness level. It wasn’t a matter of passing or failing (thank goodness!), but they did need to gauge each employee’s capabilities in such categories as cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and flexibility. After taking my blood pressure and measuring by BMI (a/k/a my muffin top), they put me to work. I was asked (required) to engage in a series of exercises that I haven’t attempted since my days at Fifth Avenue Elementary School. (And yes, that was a very long time ago.) The “test” included such basics as push-ups, sit-ups and leg lifts. I’d love to boast that I knocked out 100 of each in under three minutes, but since I’m a terrible liar (and apparently, a terrible sit-upper, push-upper and leg-lifter), let’s just say that I never hit double digits on any of those moves.

Pathetic, right? Well, if you’re picturing an overweight out-of-breath female lying on the floor, struggling to wiggle herself into a upright position, you’d be only half right. (The out-of-breath wiggly part is where you’d be correct.) But I’m not overweight, and in the spirit of sharing, I’ll tell you that at the time, I was 34 years old. I’ve gone through four birthdays since that (humiliating) incident, but at 5’0”, am the same weight (103 lbs.) and size (O) as I was back then. Here’s my point. Thin does NOT = fit.

Sure, I could still buy my clothes in the Juniors Department and was usually fairly pleased with the number on the scale, but truth be told, one’s body composition or body fat is a better barometer of risk and healthy lifestyle than body weight. I had spent too many decades basking in the delight of fatty, sugary, salty foods and was completely OUT OF SHAPE. Growing up, I was shy and uncoordinated and could never bring myself to participate in team sports and hadn’t discovered any form of real exercise until my early 30’s when I stumbled upon a love affair with the treadmill. But like most relationships, that too started out a little rocky. I would half walk/half run while holding onto the bar because I had no balance or stamina. In addition, I was my energy level was six feet under and I was always feeling drained and sluggish.

People often assume that a thinner person is automatically healthy (not true!), and I often hear comments such as, “Please – look at you. You don’t have to worry about your weight”. I appreciate the compliment, but am also quick to inform them that I’m no different than anyone else and looks can be deceiving! I’m not one of those “I’m soooo fat” women, but I do have my problem areas (a Buddha belly, upper arm jiggle) to tend to as well.

I know thin(ner) women who smoke 2 packs a day, swig beers like every day is a frat party, and consider walking to their car a ‘workout’. (Do you really think every supermodel strutting the catwalk is truly an example of a healthy being?) On the other hand, I also know people who – although they are a bit heavier who run faster & longer distances than me and regularly participate in marathons and triathlons, further proof that “slim” and “in shape” are not necessarily synonymous. Regardless of what the numbers (on the scale, on your clothes labels) say, it’s important to set goals that will not only make you “look good” but have you “feeling good” and that’s the truth!

This is an article from's Healthy Weight Loss and Fitness Blog .

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