Thursday, August 13, 2009

Random Musings: Family Time & Skinny Fat

So far August has been a really fantastic month!
I have had visits from my dad, my brother (twice!), my sister, my most gorgeous and adorable niece, and my favorite Monkey! I truly feel so happy and blessed to have such wonderful peeps in my life!
Visits are great for fun but very, very bad for good, clean eating. I mean, you can't have someone visit you in Philly and NOT take them to get a cheesesteak, right?! August(so far) has been filled with the occasional hoagie, the discovery of a new pizza place in our 'hood, Flying Monkey cupcakes, wine, cheap champagne and, plenty of River Horse (probably one of the best things that has ever come out of Jersey).
Aaaand I also had the pleasure of some delicious dining out, where I can assure you that even though I probably ate too much bread, my dined in moderation. Some of the places I went were:

Tasty! I'm spoiled! But we have also done lots and lots of walking around the city.

Last Friday, my niece Grace turned 1!! She had a blast eating her first cupcake and then was pretty much up the entire night. Yay for sugar!
Then on Saturday we took her to the Please Touch Museum! I'm pretty sure all of us "adults" liked it just as much (if not more than) she did.

Learning to garden like Uncle Andrew!

Aye, Captain!

I just loved every minute with Grace! She is so well behaved and happy. I think the cats were less than enthused with her (she REEEALLY liked them a LOT), but they did appreciate the remains of her birthday present

This week and last I have been back on the low weight, high rep resistance training routine with my trainer. It is more of a mental challenge than a physical one, but I my muscles are definitely burned out when we're done. Next week, we go back to heavy lifting, which I LOVE. It makes me feel really hardcore and reminds me of when I was in college and lifting almost everyday.
The week before last, I leg pressed 355 pounds! I was really proud of myself! That was more than I ever leg pressed in college, for sure!
Sometimes I get a little frustrated because I don't think I'm seeing physical results as fast as I think I should be. But when I do something like that, I don't even care what the mirror says. I just know that I am strong and I remember how amazing my body is (even if my stomach is a little flabby). I can FEEL the difference in my body; my runs are faster and stronger, my arms don't have any flab on them(!) and I can hustle up and down the stairs with ease. I personally think those little things are what make the biggest difference. Sure, its nice to look in the mirror and notice that you're 20 pounds thinner; but looking 20 pounds thinner doesn't mean I'm any stronger or healthier.

Lately, I've heard the term "skinny fat" used. I'm still not sure what to make of it. I can't tell if its something heavier in shape people invented to make themselves feel better, or if it really is a genuine health risk, like some have suggested.
The idea of "skinny fat" is twofold: the first is that there are those people who are naturally thin, look great in clothes and once clothes are removed, are either flabby and not so trim. The other refers to those who are thin, look thin but store their fat around their organs instead of their extremities and are, therefore, in danger of heart disease and other health problems because the fat stored around organs is known as "visceral" and is far more dangerous than fat stored near the skin's surface.
I think the latter is a valid health concern that should be addressed, and the first is probably more like tabloid BS. But this label of skinny fat raises two issues, as far as I can tell: first, who is genuinely at risk and second, how do we enroll skinny people (skinny fat or otherwise) in the benefits of exercise?
Now, I know that most of us who read health magazines and food blogs know about the benefits of exercise. But, let's be honest, if you were skinny (healthy weight skinny, not emaciated) would you still work out? Seriously. I want to know. I feel like, if asked, we would all say "of course we would!" but I feel pretty confident that if I were thin, my workouts would be a lot less intense. Sure, I would DO them, but I wonder how hard I would really push myself. See, when I workout now I'm not just thinking about being able to run my next 5k or chase after my kids or play in a soccer mom soccer league, I've still got my eye on the prize: that 20 pounds. I may or may not ever lose all of it, but the idea of the loss keeps me far more motivated than my other more long-term goals. If I didn't have to work so hard for that goal, I wonder if I would really give it my all. What do you think?
The other thing that concerns me is are we getting the correct message out there to those who ARE at risk for the kind of health related problems associated with visceral fat? Is the medical community even addressing it? I, for one, see a hell of a lot more information out there geared towards heavy people, BMI's and obesity but very little about less visible fat-related dangers. Just some food for thought...

On another unrelated note (this post is really all over the place, sorry): Andrew and I are still waiting on the final results of the City Garden Contest! Final judging was on Saturday! I am SO proud of Andrew, he really has made the garden his labor of love and it is creative, beautiful and sustainable all at once. He's first place in my book!

You can all go excuse yourselves to throw up now. I'm done.


Jill said...

I could write a dissertation on this, but I’ll keep it short: I kind of hate the term “skinny fat.” I feel like it’s just something else to make women feel shitty about themselves. “Oh, so you’re thin, but soft? You’re skinny fat!” Who the hell wants to be called that? Is nothing ever good enough in our society? In my opinion, if you’re healthy and you feel good, that’s what matters.

Certainly I have my bouts of wishing I didn’t gain all my weight in my hips and thighs, but I try to appreciate what my legs do for me instead of wishing I had less cellulite. Sometimes it’s hard. But man. Self-image and health and fitness is complicated enough — I wish people would stop coming up with new terms to categorize the female form. Argh!

That said, I will answer one of the questions you posed: I exercise because I like to eat. If I were just naturally tiny-boned and petite, hell no would I make exercise a priority. But I’m also kind of lazy and I’d rather read a book than go for a run. BUT — I do go for runs regularly. And I feel good, strong, and healthy when I do. So I hope I’d continue to run no matter what my size.

~Off soapbox~

RuralLifer said...

Ha ha, I'm just reading this and definitely think that "skinny fat" could apply to me. I'm thin (very small boned) but I have flab and cellulite, which yes the clothing usually covers.

My answer? Oh well! It's a natural part of having a body.

I still go to the gym and work out because it feels good. I do 1/2 hour cardio and on alternate days I do weights. It's good to focus on being healthy, and that involves exercise even if you are naturally thin! Excercise helps me feel relaxed too, get good sleep, ...many benefits to excercise!