What Do We Mean by “Fit?”


We may define the term “fit” any number of positive ways.  Most of us though probably don’t allow the term “fat” to occupy the same high ground.  The Denver Post Fitness Section for September 28, 2009 discusses the issue of whether one can indeed be both fit and fat.  The article is a profile of a woman who is both obese and seemingly healthy.  She is someone who is obese according to Federal guidelines, but who is also highly physically active, has good blood pressure and says she doesn’t miss work due to illness.  She describes her bad experiences with diets and counting calories, as well as her difficulty in finally accepting her body shape and size.  In the end, it appears she is happy with herself and in several ways, she definitely seems fit.

The big question here is can one be both fit and fat?  Again, how do we quantify fitness?  Do we mean looks?  Do we mean weight?  Are we talking body mass index (BMI), body composition or waist-to-hip ratio?  I think it’s reasonable to say that most people exercise in order to look healthy/thin/muscular.  A lean physique certainly is appealing on several levels.  And while obesity is associated with various diseases, being overweight doesn’t always guarantee poor health; and conversely, a lean physique does not automatically equal good health. (Ever noticed how many supermodels smoke cigarettes?)  The following quote says it well:
“There are many people living the ‘obesity paradox,’ says Paul Campos, a University of Colorado law professor and author of ‘The Obesity Myth.’ They are technically outside the government’s approved weight range but have bodies that are metabolically fit due to healthy eating and fitness routines. The notion that everyone can — and should — be thin is a product of political distortion and cultural panic over body diversity, he says.”