If you are one of those people who have never had to worry about the number on the scale and could almost always rock a swimsuit, you may consider your self very lucky indeed! The problem is, if you have never had to concern yourself with your weight, then you just might be skinny-fat, a condition that can make you as unhealthy as an obese person.
This condition is sometimes called “normal-weight obesity” and it may affect up to 25% of normal weight individuals. These people look healthy but have bad health habits and when they were checked in a 2008 study, they were found to have high levels of body fat and inflammation. (1) These people are at high risk for diabetes and heart disease. We all know at least one or two of these people. They look good, but as time wears on, they become sick more often than others and just can’t seem to get well and stay well. In the South, we describe them as “sickly”. I have known many of these people and they are the most difficult to educate concerning good health habits because they don’t have that motivation of vanity. They look good.
Signs That You May Be Skinny-Fat
Muffin Top- I noticed many years ago that some of the women that I knew who had never had a weight problem had started wearing those loose, long tops with fitted pants or leggings. I have noticed that those tops quite often can cover a multitude of sins. If you are cleverly attempting to hide your muffin top, you just might be skinny fat. Fat around the middle is unhealthier than fat anywhere else. It is associated with earlier death, insulin resistance and inflammation. Inflammation is believed to be the source of most of the disease process in the human body.
Lack of physical strength- You can’t do a single push-up. Since these people have never had the incentive to work out that over weight people have, they tend to avoid it. As a result, over time, they begin to lose muscle mass earlier than others. As muscle declines, so does physical strength. Regular strength training of some type that is approved by your medical doctor can help to reverse this trend. Aerobic activity is necessary to maintain a healthy heart and lungs.
Family History- If you have family members who have developed diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease regardless of their size, you may be predisposed to these conditions. While a normal weight is to be desired, good nutrition and regular exercise can help you ward off what seems like a “generational curse”. You might want to read the article, The “Generational Curse”, What Is It? if you actually believe that you are doomed to get a disease or disorder just because someone in your family has it.
You Eat Poorly- Just because you can consume enough empty calories to fuel New York City, it does not mean that they are not hurting you. When you fill up on junk food you are robbing your body of the nutritionally dense foods that you need. You are also ingesting sugars that increase inflammation. Don’t think for a minute that just because the scale does not bear witness to your nutritional offences that you are getting away with it. I know a beautiful 40 year old woman, who is obviously skinny fat, who has had multiple brushes with death as she lay in a coma with her blood sugar around 1000, yes one thousand. There’s no explanation as to how she survived, and one day, she won’t. She is one of the sickliest people that I know and she is very attractive, at a lovely weight for her frame.
You are in an “at-risk” population- Older adults tend to pay less attention to their BMI’s. Because we lose muscle as we age, unless we actively do something to retain and build muscle, body fat percentages tend to be higher in older adults. We need to build muscle to offset this tendency. A 2011 study also revealed that those of South Asian descent are more likely to store fat around their internal organs, compared to Caucasian people who had the same BMI. (2)
What To Do?
The same thing that works for others, will work for you if you find yourself in this category. Eat a nutritionally sound diet, choosing foods that are nutritionally dense. Avoid empty calories, including added sugars. Talk to your physician about how you should get active. Get your rest. Sleep decreases cortisol levels in your body which lead to excessive belly fat. “Make your world small.” (David Yochim) by cutting out the negative influences in your life to decrease your stress. Stress will always raise cortisol levels, even if it comes from someone that you have known your whole life. Don’t be fooled by your good fortune of never having to weigh yourself or be concerned about how you look. If your inside gets unhealthy, it will show everywhere, including in the doctor’s office. Begin to reverse this trend today with your doctor’s help. You are never too young or too old to improve your health. All it takes is a desire and a bit of study. Make yourself a priority and begin to discover life in a healthier body.