--Debut post from Priority Fitness Co-Founder, Chris Maiurro--
Recently, ABC hosted a controversial program called Face Off; a news "debate" (and I use this word lightly) about the issue of weight in America. This, in addition to fervor created by famous directors (Kevin Smith) buying dual seats on flights, Jaimie Oliver's Food Revolution, The Biggest Loser, our constant obsession with fad dieting, and the now obvious health effects that over weight Americans are experiencing makes this an idea worth considering: is it okay to be fat?
The show, which I encourage you to see for yourself (ABC News), is not exactly the best forum in which to discuss such a serious matter. The panel consists of four oppositional participants with a moderator, and in typical TV fashion the discussion deteriorates rather quickly into "clucking". A strong debate would have had more point/counter-point opportunities, and panelists with better credentials than "plus-sized super model", but they all had personal experiences with weight related issues and in all seriousness that does count for a lot. There is an actual doctor in the audience that they call on occasionally to clear up some facts. He is Dr. Richard Besser (former acting director of the Center for Disease Control - so I figure he knows a thing or two) and it's sort of fun to watch him correct the ignorance of those on stage. That being said, this post is not necessarily a critique for ABC's producers, so on to the real matters. The show does manage to touch on some of the highlights of the controversy: health, insurance costs, and personal and societal value of the fit person vs. the overweight person.
I can say, from a less strict "fitness" perspective (we are trainers, but humans also after all) that it is not a question of "okay". When a client comes to us with a goal we help them understand what is necessary to reach that objective and point out to them that their notion of a goal may be limited by their current circumstance. We take all that information and formulate a plan always with the understanding that they are the one's steering the ship..."okay" is not a factor. Our clients are almost always adults. They can do what they please. If they feel fine, physically, carrying extra body weight in the form of fat, if they aren't troubled by the potential increase in risk factors related to weight, if their personal ambitions don't extend to fitting into a certain size jeans, who are any of us to say otherwise?
However, as trainers our ultimate goal for our clients physiologically speaking, ignoring all the other pieces to the puzzle (the client's own self worth, their relationship to food, their partner's opinion, and the worst...their mother's opinion) is to make them as lean and muscular as possible. A lean, Muscular body is one that performs well, isn't limited in what it can do, and is resistant to disease and deterioration compared, on average, to a fat body (every case is different, but the statistics bear this out).
So the question then is, what isn't okay? This is one that can't be addressed without heaps of personal opinion, but as this is a blog and not a UN doctrine, I suppose I will hazard a response: If you are hurting those around you because of your weight by, for example, dying early and depriving them of that time with you, by creating an environment where they are encouraged to also over eat and not exercise (parent/child, romantic partnership, etc.), or by taking advantage of an already out of control and stressed health care system because of your weight- I would say that these circumstances are not okay. If you are starving yourself to fit into a size 2 or comfort eating because you never will, neither of those things are okay. If you are participating in over consumption on any level (food, land, personal wealth, fossil fuels, or resources of any kind) that is not okay.
We all have different sized and shaped bodies. They all have the potential to be fit and strong and beautiful....and guaranteed they will all look different. Isn't that a good thing?
Thanks for reading the rant.
Oh, and one other thing that isn't okay....if you are a multinational food conglomerate hell bent on profit at any cost, even the lives of the American Public, to the point that you will over process and corn syrup infuse anything and everything, then that also is not okay.
And one more thing: even though I shouted him out in the beginning, I adore Kevin Smith and think he is one of the best film makers/ comic writers ever (especially to come out of Jersey...hey I'm from there too)