But you don’t look fat…
I’ve never been considered “fat” by most standards— and in fact, I still wouldn’t call myself fat. I will confess, however, that I am skinny-fat. And it’s almost more dangerous than being fat-fat.
For those of you unfamiliar, Urban Dictionary says being skinny-fat is:
“When someone is thin and looks great in clothes, but is all flabby underneath.”
And if you don’t take Urban Dictionary as a trusted source, Men’s Health recently covered The Skinny Fat Epidemic, too.
At the time I realized I was skinny-fat, I was 117 lbs (I’m 5'2). So, not fat.
But after my trip to Greece where I gorged on pita and feta cheese for a week straight (rightfully so — it was my honeymoon), I was feeling especially…soft. So I decided to start taking HIIT classes with my husband (workout buddy FTW!).
It sucked at first. The classes were exhausting and I was sore for two weeks straight. But I was proud that I was on the right track. Between classes and eating relatively healthy, I was excited to see results.
Fast forward six weeks, it was time to weigh in, get measured, and complete an InBody scan that detects your fat, lean muscle, BMI, BMR, and a bunch of other fancy statistics. I was shocked at the results.
First of all, the scale had not moved. At all. How was that possible?! Second, I had 30 percent body fat (more than my technically “overweight” husband). Third, it said I need to lose 8 lbs of fat and gain 11 lbs of lean muscle to be in my ideal shape.
Despite my “healthy” BMI (which I learned is actually a horrible indicator of health set by the government in the ‘50s), 30 percent body fat is considered excessive for either gender. And a weight in the normal range but with too much body fat, especially in the abdomen, is known as “normal weight obesity.”
Obese. I know all the dangers of being obese, I just didn’t know I needed to worry about them.
I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t understand how I wasn’t losing weight or gaining muscle despite my rigorous workouts and saying no to Oreos (truly no easy feat). I started looking for answers.
Today, I’m doing my best to eat clean, high-protein foods consistently throughout the day. Despite being vegetarian and knowing it’s harder to get protein, I was still severely protein deficient despite my best efforts, which in turn was limiting my muscle growth.
I also wasn’t eating enough, which was news to me. Because I was working out so vigorously but not giving my body enough fuel, it was feasting on my muscles for energy, not my fat (hence, no fat loss).
The point of this is not to say, “woe is me, I’m so skinny-fat.” It’s to let others know that despite NOT being “fat,” despite eating healthy, despite working out, you can still be unfit.
The scale and your BMI don’t tell the whole story — you’ve got to read a little deeper to truly understand your health.
— Follow along on Instagram as I figure out how to be fit :) @thelizmally