The Continued Fat-Health Debate

It was about 7 years ago. I had been playing coed softball when I hurt myself. And as I stood on the scale at the doctor’s office, I saw my reality as the nurse slide the big weight to 150, then the pound weight all the way to the end only to shift the 150 to 200.  At that moment, my fucked up foot that I was getting an x-ray of didn’t hurt quite as bad as seeing the 210 on the scale.


Yes, it was only a year after Indigo was born, but it didn’t matter. Suddenly all of those pictures of myself I had seen took on a whole different look. I was not happy.

I’m all about health. Before I continue, I don’t want anyone to feel this is an anti-fat rant. I find women beautiful regardless of their weight and size. Some of the most gorgeous women I’ve seen have not been size 6s but size 16s that are curvy and beautiful.

But for me – with my genetics – fat equals major health risks. Let’s go through my paternal history shall we:

  • Grandma: diabetic, heart disease, breast cancer.
  • Grandpa: lung disease, stroke, high cholesterol with clogged arteries.
  • Uncle #1: 3 heart attacks, diabetic, esophageal cancer
  • Uncle #2: prostate cancer, number of mental illnesses including agoraphobia and depression and anxiety
  • Dad: heart attack, anxiety & depression, high cholesterol, prostate cancer.

The number one killer of women in the US is not, contrary to popular belief, breast cancer – but – heart disease. My family is full of heart disease. Fat is a huge factor in their health – that and lack of exercise.  Seven years ago, I was on the path.

So, I got off of it.

Lost 70 lbs by diet alone.

Gained 35 of it back due to work stress.

Then lost it again a year ago thanks to diet AND exercise.

Why do I run?? Any guesses? Yep – to fend of the #1 killer in my family – heart disease.  Because I have discovered that to eat and drink, I MUST run.

Food is something i struggle with like everyone does. I hate BMI as does a lot of researchers these days. Hell, Veronica over on her blog wrote about it this past weekend and how its applied to kids. I hate “ideal weight charts”. They are bullshit. I want a true indicator of health other than that fucking scale.

But, for me, the scale is all I have. Everyone in my family with heart issues has been overweight.

What made me write this? An article I read this weekend in the latest edition of Women’s Health where they try to tackle both sides of the overweight issue and what are indicators of health if weight is not. It was quite the interesting article really. For example, they talk about how, on hand, weight means nothing. What is a healthy weight on one woman can be unhealthy on the other. It’s not that simple. Yet, they make the argument that the problem with disregarding weight is that people gain it different in different places. A women who gains it in her hips, for example, may be heathier than a woman of the same height and weight who gains it in her abdomen. Why? Fat around vital organs is bad. Fat elsewhere is interesting, but not as large of a deal.

So, what did they recommend as indicators of health when many doctors are tossing BMI out the window as well?

  • Resting heart rate. If it is between 70-100 bpm, you are healthy.
  • Blood pressure. Between 90/60 to 120/80 is good.
  • Cholesterol. LDL below 100, HDL above 50, VDL under 40, triglycerides below 150
  • Fasting Blood sugar. Healthy is between 70-100.
  • Waist-to-Hip Ratio. This one was new to me. Measure the narrowest part of your waist and the widest part of your hip. Divide the waist number by the hip number. Between 0.6 and 0.8 is considered healthy.

I should mention that I’m good for half of these. My blood pressure literally has not changed since 1984 (110/60).  My resting heart rate is 80 (I know thanks to my heart rate monitor and my running watch.) My cholesterol always is borderline, but the fact we eat mostly vegetarian helps. And blood sugar….well, blood sugar when tested is fine, but I will have sudden drops in it if I don’t eat well or infrequently. And those sudden shaky drops are NOT fun. As for that ratio thing, I have no idea.

What I also liked about the article was that it was not “fat bashing”. Like many of these discussions we have all seen in blog-land, these issues take multiple sides. But finding out through researchers and doctors being interviewed that it was NOT a black and white issue was reassuring. It made me feel better in some ways, but in others, it reinforced the idea that, for me, this article doesn’t matter. 

Overweight will spell early death thanks to my DNA.

So, excuse me as I go for another run…..

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Vixen says:

    Sounds like a really wonderful and informative article. So much out info out there is just such crap.

    I think the most important thing is to be *aware* of what is healthy for YOU, as an individual. The comparison shit is what gets everyone in trouble.

  2. Great post!
    I agree…its so important to have healthy habits not neccessarily for weight but for health. I joined a gym 2 yrs ago and I wish I would have lost more weight but the fact that I am in shape and feel healthy is a far more rewarding effect of my time there.

    Also, just to ward off a myth about heart disease being the #1 cause of death…I work with a group of 16 doctors. We sign about 75% of the death certificates in our county (think big metropolitan county). They laugh at that statistic because “heart failure” is what the doctors write down on death certificates when they really have no idea what caused the death! Therefore that statistic is really a “I dunno” stance…which most people don’t realize how often a doctor thinks that. 😉

  3. Hubman says:

    I maintain that fat equals greater risk to your health for everyone, no question about it. My mom is 5’4″, 250 lbs, and for years she’s been in denial because her blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were fine. Two weeks ago, she had an angioplasty. Guess who realizes that being fat is a bad thing now?

    Reformed Slut- heart disease and heart failure are not the same thing. If you think about it, ultimately damn near everyone dies of heart failure, it’s what lead to the heart stopping that differs.

  4. This was a great post. I think that we all realize the importance of fitness as the fitness gets harder to achieve.

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