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Fitness or fatness?

Is it healthier to be slim but not fit, or overweight but physically fit?

Does it even matter?

I spotted this question being debated – rather excitedly to be honest – online in a Facebook Group and I thought I would share it with you.

There are many opinions on this. Some people think we should stop obsessing over body image, and there is too much public pressure on us to be thin. Some people say it’s wrong to assume that an overweight or obese person is either lazy, unfit or unhealthy. Maybe that person exercises and is physically fit, they just happen to be overweight too.

Others point out that being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many poor health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This is true, being overweight or obese is a risk factor for all these diseases, in fact being overweight or obese is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK, and worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

But while being overweight or obese contributes to several of our most prevalent diseases, so does a lack of physical exercise. That’s right, when we look at lists of all the factors causing type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, while we see ‘overweight and obesity’ on the list, in every case, ‘lack of exercise’ is right there on the same list too.

If we dig a little deeper, we actually find out that fitness matters more than fatness, when it comes to all-cause mortality. If you read the short abstract from that study which was published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, you’ll see that overweight and obese people who maintained good physical fitness, lived about as long as normal weight people who maintained good levels of physical fitness too. As the article says “Compared to normal weight-fit individuals, unfit individuals had twice the risk of mortality regardless of BMI.”

So there you have it. It turns out that it’s more important to be fit, than to be thin, if living a long healthy live and avoiding major diseases is your objective.

In a society that values ‘the body beautiful’ so much, and uses stereotypes of slim and lean models for advertising and marketing, it seems we have been putting too much focus on looks and not enough focus on action. If we want to hold back heart disease and cancer for as long as possible, then we should enjoy regular exercise more and stop worrying so much about our bodyfat levels. It seems the 6-pack really is just about vanity, rather than health.

Of course, at Mother Nature’s Diet we already knew this! Our focus has always been on being healthy, and I have said for years that if we work towards being healthy on the inside, our bodies will take care of how we look from the outside.

In my own personal weight loss journey, I wrestled with my weight for 20 years, yo-yo dieting in and out of obesity. All that time my focus was on losing weight to try to look better and feel happier about myself. Only when I changed my focus to being healthy did I finally crack it, and lost 7 stone 3, that’s 101 pounds of fat, or 46 kilos to my European friends.

Living by the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet we focus on eating healthy nourishing whole foods, we don’t count calories, and we aim to stay active and exercise almost every day.

Sounds like we’re doing the right thing if you ask me.
Well done, keep going!

To your good health!

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