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More To Love teaches plus size women how to learn body-acceptance and end dieting for good. 

Reflections on "Fat V Fit" debate

Rachel Estapa

I write a lot about the intersection of health, happiness while being overweight. It’s kinda like…my thaang to blow the myth out of the water that being fat overrides anything healthy, and it annoys me when people assume larger folks are incapable of being physically active OR liking their body.

Darlin….if ya only knew!

Even more popular lately have been studies calling into question fat vs fit…some of them say it's possible to be fat and fit while others…not so much.

It’s overwhelming, confusion and unclear how health, fitness and weight impact one another, which is why I created these three ways to make sense of the studies while keeping your sanity and self-respect together. 

You do not need to justify your lifestyle to anyone
I was talking about this with a girlfriend the other night…that often when the topic of fat v fit comes up, the assumption that my size automatically equals being unhealthy puts me at a disadvantage in the conversation. I often felt the need to explain my eating and exercises habits as to prove I’m doing it well, but it always left me feeling uncomfortable to have to justify myself to someone who at the end of the day, had their mind already made up.

Your health is not subject to someone else’s opinion.  When the topic comes up in your life, you probably think you have two choices – either go on the offensive (become rude, hostile, snippy) or defense (justify, back pedal, over-share to compensate)…but there IS another way…appreciate and be honest with yourself regarding how you’re being healthy and active right now based on your current ability. Maybe it looks like sharing info sometimes, or maybe it’s being quiet and just letting the other people yammer on.  It’s really about being comfortable with what others might think about you, which is tough but the more you practice self-respect and letting your daily actions speak for themselves, the less you care about others perception of you. 

Fitness is a spectrum, not an absolute
I’m really surprised more research and stories are not shared about the vastness of what counts to be considered fit and healthy. In the non-large world, no one bats eyes to thinner people’s variety of fitness, movement and health…but when we’re talking about larger people, everyone gets lumped into the category “unhealthy” even when they are doing amazing things with their body. 

I believe we each have a unique spectrum of health, and it’s up to us individually to have the self-awareness to gauge if what we do each day is healthy or unhealthy, not just for our bodies, but overall well-being. Being larger isn’t an automatic indicator of poor health as there are many people whose athletic ability is outstanding, despite being larger.

Deep down, you know if your actions lean more towards healthy or unhealthy and this goes for anyone at any size. A more holistic approach to your own body’s needs and happiness may end up serving you better long-term because the best lifestyle is the one you’re excited and happy about. 

There will never be a study to either confirm or deny the quality of YOUR life
Science is awesome, science rules the universe (literally) but science can only go so far as to inform you of the quality of your life.  I’ve always approached scientific studies as interesting food-for-thought and measure them against how my own reality is shaping up. Sometimes they go along with it, other times, not so much. When they don't, I do not blow the study off, I pause and think about it, maybe do more research to inform my understanding and later on, make the choice whether the findings are something I want to integrate into my life.

But putting all your faith into studies will leave you really confused, because so many of them contradict each other. I think it’s more valuable if you focus on what’s really going on in your life healthy wise by paying attention to how you feel after meals; how you respond to stress; and what your body feels like day to day and make small chances accordingly.

There won’t ever be an answer to the question “Can you be fat and fit?” and that is OK, so get used to the uncertainty and pay more attention to what you’re focusing on every day, because those small, progressive habits build the quality of your life over time.