When I started training for a half-marathon a few years back I was absolutely convinced that I would be in the best shape of my life. How could running at least 7 miles everyday not give me lean, sexy legs, rock hard abs, or toned arms?
Yet as D-day approached, I didn’t find myself shedding pounds; I found myself staying the same weight. Yes, I was burning thousands of calories, but my body was also demanding more fuel for those long aerobic sessions.
After weeks upon weeks without a change in my physical self, I began to wonder: Is it possible to be really fit, yet not look it? Because I was by no means “fat,” but I definitely didn’t obtain the incredible runner body I had hoped for.
Then I realized I was focusing too much on what I thought “in shape” meant. I expected to see it. When in reality my body was being transformed on the inside. My endurance improved, my muscles got used to the increased physical activity, and my knees withstood the hard impact.
This “ah ha” moment compelled me to investigate what being fit really means; could someone be considered overweight, but also in shape?
Recent research shows that regular exercise, even without weight loss, is essential to avoiding the conditions that come from a sedentary lifestyle, i.e. diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases. So even though a person may fall into the “overweight” category, the fact that she works out regularly ensures that she is fit and keeping her body free from these conditions.
We have to remember that the most important part of working out isn’t weight loss; it’s keeping our bodies healthy so that they can function efficiently. Psychotherapist Christopher Norris describes fitness best; it’s about stamina, suppleness, strength, speed, skill and spirit. No where in the definition is there mention of outward appearance.
Remember, everyone is born with a different body type and most of us will never mold ourselves into supermodels. It just isn’t possible. But what is possible? Being fit and, technically, fat. It is an error to believe that just because someone is”big” she is out of sharp or just because someone is “little” she is really fit.
All in all, it’s better to be fit and fat than thin and idle.