Does Being Skinny Mean You Are Healthy?

Fact about risk of diabetes for skinny and obese people
Skinny people are often assumed to be healthy because they look the part. But there is a hu-u-uge difference between looking healthy and being healthy. So let’s shoo the elephant out of the room right away.

No. Being skinny does not mean that you are healthy.

Well, it depends on how you define ‘healthy’ and ‘skinny’. If you define healthy as merely ‘anything but fat’, and skinny as ‘Keira Knightley’, then yes, all you skinny people are ‘healthy’. But is health merely a visual absence of obesity? Go on, take a guess. If your answer is ‘yes’, you are gravely mistaken!

A healthy person has a sound body, mind, and spirit. Even if we ignore the psychological and spiritual aspects of health for the matter of this discussion, skinny is not a sound state of body. In nature, too much either way of any optimum is harmful. So, while obesity is a much-publicized danger, the other end of the spectrum is also harmful, possibly even more so. Here’s why.

‘Obesity’ is Not Always Unhealthy

Health fanatics and most physicians depend almost exclusively on a parameter known as Body Mass Index, or BMI, to assess general health. This is based on the incorrect assumption that the ratio between your body weight and your height is enough to make a diagnosis on whether you are obese, and that this ‘obesity’ is inherently unhealthy. Granted, a BMI of more than 30 is almost always unhealthy, but here’s an interesting fact. Dwayne Johnson weighs about 265 lb, and is 6′ 5” tall. That gives us a BMI of 31. LeBron James’ weight is around 245-250 lb, and he is 6′ 8” tall. That gives us a BMI of 27. Let’s not even get started on Shaquille O’Neal! So, according to the BMI scale, The Rock, Shaq, and King James are overweight – dangerously so! Someone should warn them, and get them to work out more to shed those unhealthy pounds, right?

The reason why LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dwayne Johnson are ‘overweight’ is that they have large, heavy muscles, and thus weigh more. However, their ‘rotund bellies’ are healthy, and packed with rock-hard muscles, instead of flabby fat.

This is where the fallacy in BMI is exposed. It is not your total body weight that determines whether you are obese, it’s your Body Fat Percentage.

Check Your Body Fat, Not Your Paunch

Body Fat Percentage shows how much of your body is made up of fat, regardless of your total body weight. A high body fat percentage (more than 25-30%) is linked to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and the likes, but a high body weight can’t be linked to the same diseases.

Since very few ‘obese’ people are muscle-maniac NBA or WWE stars, it is likely that having a BMI higher than 30 corresponds to a high body fat percentage, but the converse is not true. In simple terms, overweight people are likely to have a higher body fat percentage, but that doesn’t mean that thin people are likely to have a low body fat percentage. You can be thin and weigh in at your ideal weight, but that could just be because of your weak, undeveloped muscles. Thin people are just as likely to have a high body fat percentage as overweight people – it just doesn’t show.

When you visit the doctor next, ignore your BMI-approved weight and insist on getting your body fat percentage checked. You may be in for a surprise.

Skinny AND Metabolically Obese is a More Dangerous Combo

We think obese people should watch their diet, and not even think about grilled cheese sandwiches for the rest of their lives (no, no, think about something – anything – else!). Well, sure, people looking to lose weight should indeed watch their diet, but this doesn’t mean that skinny people can get away with anything. Since skinny people don’t weigh or look obese, they think it’s okay for them to indulge in processed, high-carb, sugary meals. But since metabolic obesity doesn’t depend on weight, their ignorance can lead to them eating even larger amounts of such risky foods than visibly obese people who are obviously more cautious. In fact, studies have shown that being obese and being severely underweight is equally dangerous in terms of heart trouble and hypertension.

I’m Skinny, Am I Metabolically Obese?

Body Fat Percentage
As mentioned before, check your Body Fat Percentage. If it is less than 20%, you have nothing to worry about.

Blood Test
Get a blood test done, and insist on including an insulin response test in your next physical checkup. High blood sugar level and insulin response indicate that you already are or are at a risk of becoming diabetic.

Just Ask Yourself!
Do you feel great? Are you happy with the way you look? Do you run out of stairs before you run out of breath? Do you sleep well? Are you immune from periodic bouts of cold and flu? If your answer is yes, great! Your body is probably fine. If not, you may be ‘skinny obese’.

How Do I Become Truly Healthy?

Cut Out the Cardio
First and foremost, cut out the heavy-duty cardio, and start lifting weights. This applies to skinny women as well – stay off the little pink dumbbells, and start lifting heavy. Cardio does burn fat, but also eats into muscles. Weight training, on the other hand, pumps up your metabolism and thus increases your hunger, which should only be satisfied via healthy foods that increase muscle mass and help burn fat. Larger muscles need more calories for sheer sustenance, which, combined with a smart diet, are obtained by burning fat. Also, there is no scientific way to say this – larger muscles look hot!

Eat Fresh
Cut down on processed foods, and start eating fresh foods. Those daily burgers that you thought were fine will bite you in the bottom one day. Instead of the hastily gobbled burger or Sub, have a fruit or a salad. It takes even less time to prepare than the supposed ‘fast food’, and is infinitely healthier. And if you think fruits taste bland, that is what real food tastes like! You have just become used to the hokey and horribly harmful layers of sugars, flavoring agents, and trans fats.

Eat More Natural Fats
There are good fats (high-density cholesterol) and there are bad fats (low-density cholesterol). ‘Real’ foods such as fish, nuts, eggs, and fruits contain healthy fats, which are essential in the proper maintenance of our body. Good fats actually help prevent heart disease, and better our brain functioning. Good fats can be obtained through something as easy as switching to olive oil. Frying chicken or potatoes in olive oil is better than other options, but deep-frying is still harmful.

Eat More Proteins
Proteins are essential in increasing muscle mass. Have a protein-rich breakfast (e.g. boiled eggs, omelets, stir-fried chicken, baked beans, protein shake), and include some form of protein in every meal. For those of us who like to snack between meals, install nuts or chopped fruits as your snack food. The best forms of proteins are found in animals, i.e. white meat, eggs, and fish, but vegetarians have the options of dairy, non-processed cheese (the ones that stink), beans, nuts, etc.

As with any natural phenomenon, straying too far away from the optimum physical condition in either direction has terrible consequences. The best option is to eat real, wholesome foods, and exercise regularly like our life depended on it – it does! Our body is a result of genetics, but modifying it is completely in our hands, and maintaining it is nothing less than a responsibility.

Pros and Cons of Fitbit Gadgets

Fact about Fitbit OneThanksgiving is finally over, and with Christmas coming round the corner, we wonder if we can ever stick to the same shirt size. While we fool ourselves by taking a slice of pie for the fifth time, maybe it’s time to consider the effects of binge-eating, and take a hard look at the mirror.

Most of us consider ourselves to be pretty healthy. We drink clean water, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and spend less time near the microwave. For those of you happy with your life choices, good for you. But for those who wish to lose those few extra pounds, and lose the practice of sucking in your gut, read on.

Fitbit gadgets have been in vogue for some time. They have given tough competition to Nike and Jawbone. There are many reasons for their popularity, and the name isn’t one of them. They have launched a number of products, keeping in mind the demographic of users in the market, and all the while targeting overall fitness and the well-being of consumers. We take a look at the pros and cons of Fitbit gadgets, and what keeps the average consumer coming back for more.

Fitbit One
Cost: $99.95

For those who like to be free when running, this gadget is for you. Fitbit One is a sleek gadget that you can clip on easily. You don’t have to wear it on your wrist continuously. With a simple display, you can keep track of your fitness with one touch. It comes with a separate charging cable and wireless syncing. Fitbit One was the first to adopt Bluetooth technology. The wireless syncing is currently available on newer Android devices and iPhone 4S and higher. The One comes with a wrist strap which can contain the device, and it wakes you up with your preset goals. While syncing with the online account, Fitbit One devises a well-planned diet based on the intake of foods and your current goal.

Pros

►Very easy to wear; you can’t even feel its presence while running. It can be clipped onto your shirt or your belt. It won’t slip off even if you jogged your hardest trying to lose that last pound.

►You can scroll through the number of steps taken, calories lost, and goals you have achieved. You can create your account on the Fitbit website and sync it online with other users to compare your progress. An image of a flower is displayed, which keeps growing the more active you get.

►It has a set of default goals in-built in the system, like 10,000 steps a day, 5 miles a day, 30 ‘active’ minutes, and 10 floors climbed. Though the reason for setting these goals is still unclear, the recommendation is a minimum of 150 minutes of walking every week or any other activity. It also tracks your sleeping patterns and displays the result in a graphical format.

►The device wakes you up silently with a vibrating alarm. It gives you badges based on your performance. Plus, this gives you the chance to gloat to your friends on social media, and those connected to your Fitbit account. The device shouts out encouraging messages, unlike your PE teacher, like ‘You Rock!’ and ‘I’m Ready!’.

►One has a battery life which lasts a week. No need to keep it charging everyday like your cell phone.

Cons

►It tends to count steps even when you’re asleep. Simply twirling the device racks up 3,000 points. It also lacks the features to track cycling and swimming.

►There’s no manual included that tells you to set up the device. You need to create a Fitbit account online to sync it with your device.

Fitbit Zip
Cost: $59.95

Designed as a pedometer, the Zip is good for those going for the retro look. Released at the same time as the One, it calculates the number of steps taken and calories burned. You can dress it up as an ironic accessory of the ’90s, like the pager, but there’s no doubt that this little dude’s gonna help you on your way to fitness.

Pros:

►It has a clip-on feature which you can attach to your belt or shirt, whichever makes you comfortable. You think it would be easy to lose, but the device just hangs on, even while enduring the morning rush to work or when you take off your shirt at the end of the day.

►Tap on the device to change the display. Each tap cycles through the five modes: Steps, Distance Traveled, Calories Burned, Clock, and Fitbit Smiley.

►The main reason you bought this small wonder is for tracking your calories and sticking to your goals. If you’re serious about losing that flab, then input your intake of food into the device. It’ll tell you the amount you have to lose or gain according to your goals. 3,600 calories totals one pound. Once you know that figure, it helps quite a bit. Other online apps charge you extra for this feature.

►The Bluetooth feature in your device syncs automatically if the dongle is inserted in your PC, and uploads the data to your Fitbit account.

►As with One, it gives you medals if you have achieved a milestone or a default goal set by the device.

Cons:

►The Zip doesn’t have a rechargeable battery, but instead uses disposable batteries. So it lasts only 4 – 6 months.

►It doesn’t have an altimeter. In case there are any folks who climb a lot of stairs, it won’t calculate your vertical movements.

►It’s not waterproof, but is water-resistant. You can’t submerge it further than 10 meters underwater.

►You need to shell out extra if you want additional features. Like the Barcode Scanner that uses your smartphone to scan food barcodes to extract nutritional information. The premium version gives you a personalized digital session, which provides you with an analysis of your food intake, as well as provides you with a list of foods with a healthier intake.

Fitbit Flex
Cost: $99.95

Fitbit Flex was released in place of its predecessor, Force. Designed like a bracelet, it’s the first wearable device from the Fitbit family. Travel however you want, and it’ll keep track of your calories. They have used a slim display with five flashing dots to signify different meanings on your device. The five LED lights flash back and forth when updating, flash in an ascending order when charging, and vibrates silently in case of an alarm.

Pros:

►Those looking for that style quotient, they offer this in a variety of colors, from black, tangerine, teal, navy, lime, pink, blue, slate, to red.

►As per the norm, Fitbit gadgets are water-resistant. This can be submerged 33 feet for those want to take it for a swim, but it won’t track your laps.

►You need to tap it five times to enter the sleep mode, so it can record your sleep patterns and give you a detailed analysis. Tap it five more times to wake it up.

►You can customize your goals on the dashboard or your display, for that matter.

Cons:

►It doesn’t track your steps accurately. You have to include your stride length in your profile for it to calculate it correctly.

►It has the worst battery life out of all the gadgets, and needs to be charged every 5 days.

►The altimeter is too dull to provide any motivation, and displays its info in the form of dots.

Fitbit Charge
Cost: $129.95

Fitbit Charge is the newest addition to the family. It sports a trendy outlook, and can be worn as a watch. It’s offered in various colors.

Pros:

►Learning from their previous model, Flex, they have offered this device in different sizes, with larger sizes available for bigger wrists.

►Another neat feature is the Caller ID function. If synced to your smartphone, it gives you call notifications on your wristband.

►You don’t need a watch, as it displays the time continuously. The battery charge lasts for 7 – 10 days, so it won’t be a problem.

Cons:

►The price is too steep, considering they have almost the same features. If you need an upgrade, wait for the Charge HR, which includes a heart rate monitor as well as GPS tracking.

►It’s bulkier than the Flex, and cumbersome to wear it all the time.

►It needs a charging cable to recharge its batteries.

Fitbit Aria
Cost: $129.95

Fitbit Aria is a Wi-Fi enabled weighing machine. In conjunction with your Fitbit gadgets, it helps you track your weight goals, and gives you a detailed plan. Embedded with a 3-axis accelerometer, the Charge captures your motion 24/7, and relays the data in the form of steps, sleep patterns, and the results of calorie loss.

Pros:

►It has a very stylish look. The top is made of solid glass while the back has a bubble pattern with rubberized feet that keeps it stable.

►The accuracy of Aria is spot-on. It calculates your weight and then formulates a plan for your goals.

Cons:

►At around $130, it’s quite a steep price for a weight scale.

Quite recently, Fitbit withdrew its products from the Apple HealthKit, because it plans to launch the Surge, a smartwatch designed to give competition to the Apple Watch. Along with the Surge, it also plans to launch Charge HR, an extension of Charge with heart-rate monitoring capabilities able to detect increased blood pressure and imminent heart attacks. Even the best-laid plans can go haywire, but with the help of these gizmos, you can chart a better path to your health.