Can you be FIT and be FAT? According to 90% of people polled Instagram and Facebook, yes, you can. The 10% that said no unfortunately offered no commentary.

Can you be UNHEALTHY and THIN? 100% of people polled on my Instagram and Facebook said yes.

The answer to both of these questions is not as easy as you may think. This post is going to be a long one, and I’m encouraging you to think outside the box. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and dig in. Please keep an open mind and read this all the way through. 

Do you see a FAT person or a FIT person in this photo?
For those that don’t know this is right after I finished an Ironman Race: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run, in 16 hours and 55 minutes.

We often think of a FIT person as looking a certain way, at least I used to. Six pack abs, crazy muscle definition, generally thin, fast and “good” looking. A FAT person is generally someone who is overweight, unfit, slow, and not “fit”. An UNHEALTHY person to me also would be someone who is either sick (chronic disease, head cold, illness etc) or similar to that of a fat person. THIN is pretty straightforward I think, very skinny, a high fashion model type or someone with a small build/ frame.

All of these are extreme over generalizations so before you get too worked up, please keep reading. An instagram “influencer” I followed posted this image:

THE ABOVE IS NOT MY OPINION. REPOSTED FROM AN INSTAGRAM “INFLUENCER”

Some of these things are SO FREAKING TRUE. But one in particular stood out to me: Fitness advice from fat people. I reached out and started a dialogue with her curious to know more about why a fitness professional/influencer who owns and runs a yoga studio would post something like this.

So I asked myself what does FIT mean? What does FAT mean? Do either of these things affect my ability to be a personal trainer or give out fitness advice? I am by all definitions overweight, technically obese according to the Body Mass Index charts, but does that make me unfit or unhealthy? In my opinion NO, it does not. This “fat” body has completed several half marathons, 3 half Ironmans, attempted 3 and completed 2 full Ironmans, run a marathon, can throw weight around in a gym and can (mostly) hold my own in a yoga class. I am 37 years old, I take only a prenatal vitamin and a probiotic, my resting heart rate is typically in the low 60s to high 50s. I do not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, cancer or any disease for that matter. I am also a certified Personal Trainer, an IRONMAN certified triathlon coach and have a Bachelor of SCIENCE in Health Sciences from Arizona State University. On paper I am certainly qualified to be doing the job I do.

So… because society and this narrow minded person sees that I am not skinny, I am by definition unhealthy and therefore unqualified to give out fitness advice? THAT MAKES NO FREAKING SENSE!

You can be FIT, FAT, SKINNY and/or UNHEALTHY. They are not mutually inclusive or exclusive of each other.

At my lowest weight in recent years, I felt so “SKINNY” and was so unhappy. Weight and happiness are not mutually inclusive.

Have you ever walked into a high end fitness studio or gym and seen an overweight/obese/heavy build instructor? I know for SURE I haven’t. If you have please tell me where because I am on my way to take their class! The narrow minded influencer told me that she had previously employed overweight yoga instructors but ultimately let them go because a few clients told her they didn’t like their classes. This was because they didn’t seem to be setting a good example and didn’t ‘LOOK’ healthy. I don’t know about you, but having the courage to get up in front of a group of people and teach a yoga class at any size is a huge freaking accomplishment. Not to mention the fact that becoming a yoga teacher is an investment. It involves over 200 hours of training, a huge chunk of money and a lot of time paying one’s dues.

As a society and especially in the fitness industry we need to adjust our narrow minded view of what is healthy or unhealthy. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. We have to stop judging a persons health based solely on their appearance. Health by definition is “the state of being free from illness or injury” it says absolutely nothing about size/weight.

You can workout at any size. 

You can be fit at any size. 

You can be healthy or unhealthy at any size. 

Expanding further on this Would you hire someone who was “FAT” to be your personal trainer/ yoga instructor/ dietitian? Assuming of course that they were properly qualified/trained/educated. Resounding YES from my Facebook poll on this one.

Would you hire someone who was “SKINNY” to be your personal trainer/ yoga instructor/ dietitian? Based on looks and assuming they had zero qualifications. Resounding NO from my Facebook poll on this one.

My friend JS says “I wouldn’t take professional advice from anyone that wasn’t qualified”. JH says “Really important distinction that doesn’t get enough attention. Being an elite athlete doesn’t make you a great coach, and being a great coach doesn’t mean you have to be an elite athlete. You can even take it a step further and make the point that being skinny doesn’t necessarily make you a better athlete, and certainly doesn’t mean you’re more fit than someone who’s bigger. I think we need to take a further step back and look at how body composition and apparent fitness level can get misconstrued.” 

How many times have you purchased a product from someone on social media? How many times did you pause to see what their qualifications were, or why they were posting about said product? I’ve purchased meal plans, workout plans and more from influencers. Some of these products were great, and some of these influencers were actually qualified to be writing/selling these things. Others gathered a huge following based on appearance alone and profited greatly from this (and recently in some cases met their downfall due to lack of qualifications).

There is no one size definition of health, I believe it looks different for everyone! Medications do not make you healthy, neither do supplements. Loans also do not make you rich. A “sick” doctor could be suffering from a genetic disease or any number of complications you know nothing about. A “thin” personal trainer could be suffering from an eating disorder or just be naturally born that way. A “fat” person could have just run a marathon or struggled since a young age with their weight. A broke person giving financial advice…well I’m going to leave that one alone, she may have been right on that.

You do not know someone’s story based on their appearance. 

At my heaviest weight in 5 years, yet ultimately pretty freaking happy.

As a trainer I have a responsibility to my clients, I keep things 100% real with them including my own struggles. I do not push products, diets or unhealthy ways of achieving a certain body type on them. I focus on their needs, their strengths and improving their weaknesses. I encourage daily movement, body positivity, SMART goal setting, proper rest, and stress management. I will continue doing what I love because I believe in it 1000% and love helping others. 

I am a human being. I struggle, I am far from perfect. I will continue giving out fitness advice and training people because I think there is value in what I have to say. I know what it’s like to feel uncomfortable in a room full of ‘fit’ people or to avoid the gym because I don’t like look everyone else there. If you’re struggling and need help, ask. If someone says something you don’t like try to see it from their perspective. Ask questions. Be open to opinions that aren’t yours. But do not let anyone bully you or discount what you are doing because of how you look.

Do not ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something based on your age, size, weight or ability. You are the boss, and YOU get to determine what you do in life.

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