Let’s go back to 2005. Brad and Jen broke our hearts with their split. Gwen Stefani taught us all how to spell “bananas”. Juicy Couture velour track suits were making a comeback.
This was also the year before I cut out fast food and soda. A sophomore in high school, I was 5’4” and 97lbs. I had always been thin, it’s in my genetics. So I never had to think about what I ate. I thought, “If I don’t gain weight after eating a Whopper Jr. every day, then I’ve got nothing to worry about.”
To be honest, I don’t really remember why I ditched fast food and soda, other than I knew they were bad for me. I don’t remember an aha-moment or a near death experience. I suppose I was subconsciously listening to my body.
After I started ignoring the call of the Burger King drive-thru and the fizz of a newly opened can of Sprite, I didn’t get any healthier. I was still eating quesadillas every day after school and steak for dinner, and then I’d wake up and have a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with 2% milk. No, I was definitely not healthy.
It wasn’t until nearly 10 years later that I first heard the term “Skinny Fat”. This refers to people who appear thin but are actually unhealthy. They are at risk for diabetes, high cholesterol and poor blood circulation. These people likely have visceral fat stored around their organs. They tend to think, as I did, that being thin means they are healthy so they neglect physical activity and lack muscle mass.
I realized that I was skinny fat in 2012 when I looked at myself and saw that I didn’t have any muscle. I was thin, not toned. And on top of that, I felt just blah. At that time, I was eating a lot of cheese, yogurt and alfredo sauce. My stomach is aching just thinking about it.
It was around this time that I learned the difference between being thin and being healthy. Over time my definition of health has changed (and it still is) but I understand now that what you see on the outside isn’t always reflected on the inside.
The number on the scale is not a measurement of health.
Focusing solely on your outward physical appearance jeopardizes your internal health. We need to focus on being healthy rather than being thin.
Let’s get scientific for a minute. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), nearly 1 in 4 skinny people are pre-diabetic and metabolically obese (skinny fat). The visceral fat they store around their organs secretes hormones and hinders insulin’s ability to break down sugar. Diabetics who are skinny fat have nearly double the mortality rate of overweight and obese diabetics.
There needs to be a shift in our understanding of our body. It’s not necessarily how much food we eat, it’s what food we eat. 500 calories of McDonalds fries and 500 calories of fresh fruit are not equals.
True health starts with what you put in your body. The food you eat feeds your cells and, ultimately, makes you into the person you are; physically, mentally, emotionally. Yes, the food you eat not only impacts your physical appearance but also your cognition and mood.
By eating living foods, you’re feeding your body life. And by striving for health on the inside, the outward appearance we long for will follow suit naturally.
What’s your definition of health? Are you living it?