The Fit/Fat Debate: Can You Be Healthy and Overweight?

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Almost every client I’ve ever spoken to has known this simple truth: “losing weight is hard.”

I know countless hard-working people who have put plenty of effort into diet and exercise, and they still don’t get the results they’ve been looking for. That can get frustrating at times when you feel that all the hard work you’ve put into your Marc Dressen fitness sessions just aren’t paying off.

Eventually, some people begin to wonder whether they really need to lose weight just to be healthy, or whether they need to invest in more exercise, better dieting plans, and less stress. This reflects a growing perspective on fitness in the western world, known as “HAES,” or “Health at Every Size.”

The idea is that instead of focusing so much on the numbers that appear when you stand on the scales, people should be concentrating on moving more, eating better, and practicing healthy habits – regardless of the outcome.

So, what’s the reality when it comes to wellness?

Can you be healthy and overweight at the same time?

By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of what a healthy weight is, whether you need to lose weight, and what it means to be “healthy.”

How Do You Define a “Healthy Weight”?

A lot of people seek out their online fitness trainer looking for ways to achieve a healthy weight. The problem is that they don’t know what that term means to begin with. That’s because a healthy weight can be hard to define. Different people have their own definitions of what being “healthy” means, and it’s hard to get everyone on the same page.

From a medical perspective, a healthy weight is measured by your BMI, or “body mass index.” Usually, if you’re in the “normal” range for weight, your BMI will be somewhere between 18.5, and 24.9. On the other hand, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 indicates that you’re “overweight,” and more at risk of things like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Being “overweight” isn’t as dangerous as it might seem at first glance. Provided that you’re happy with the way you look, and you’re not at any serious risk for disease, your doctor is unlikely to recommend that you start losing extra pounds until you’re in the “obese” range of the BMI scale. By measuring your height and weight, the BMI scale suggests that a person is “obese” when they have a score of between 30, and 34.9.

If your BMI level is over 35, then you’ll be heading into the “morbid obesity” range. During this stage, the risk of various diseases becomes more significant, and your healthcare provider will begin to work more aggressively with you on an exercise and dieting plan that should reduce your calorie intake, and increase your energy output.

Can You Be Overweight and Healthy at the Same Time?

Now, as mentioned above, being overweight on the BMI scale isn’t as risky as being obese. Though you’re more likely to fall victim to certain weight-related diseases than those in the “normal” range, the overall impact on your longevity is reasonably limited.

If you’ve been exploring opportunities for better health and wellness for a while now, and you know that you’re overweight, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the HAES (health at every size) movement before today.

The HAES perspective indicates that it is possible to be healthy, and overweight at the same time. As a specialist dietary plan, it’s aimed to support people who focus too aggressively on their weight and try to achieve a particular number on the scale, instead of striving for better health. These are the people who are more likely to jump from one diet fad to another, without making any kind of a sustainable change.

If you use HAES to change the way you think about weight, focusing on intuitive eating, the quality of the calories you consume, and the exercise you get on a daily basis, then you should find that you start to live a healthier life. The only problem is that some people struggling with obesity have started to use HAES as an excuse to ignore some of the real dangers associated with eating too much and moving too little.

When Should You Lose Weight?

If your aim for fitness isn’t to achieve a specific dress size, but simply improve your standard of health, then you can be both healthy, and “overweight” according to the BMI scale. However, the key to success is recognising that there are dangers to having excess weight on your body.

Being obese increases your risk factors for various chronic illnesses and disease, and better exercise, along with diet control can help you to achieve a happier and healthier life. The only real reason that you should continue to be obese is if you prefer to live that way, or if you have a medical condition that makes it safer for you to maintain your current weight for a certain amount of time. For instance, when undergoing haemodialysis, your weight can play a part in your survival chances.

Losing weight can help you to live a longer, healthier life, free from an increased risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes. However, not everyone who doesn’t lie within the realm of “normal” on the BMI scale is necessarily unhealthy. For these people, the decision to become more active should be one based on personal goals and ambitions.

The Bottom Line on Being Healthy and Overweight

Ultimately, as your doctor will likely confirm, you should generally try to be in the “normal” range with your BMI whenever possible. However, being in the “overweight” section isn’t always that bad either. The critical thing to remember when it comes to looking at things like the health at any size perspective is that there’s no excuse for ignoring obesity if it’s having a negative impact on your health.

While losing weight is hard, it can be very important for those who are obese, or morbidly obese. What’s more, remember that no matter what size you are, it’s always better to be active, than inactive, and if you can control your dietary choices, that can help you to live a longer, and healthier life too.

Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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