Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Normal Weight Obesity

I came across an interesting article today from the Wall Street Journal - The Scales Can Lie: Hidden Fat quoting a recent Mayo Clinic study that basically classifies 30 million Americans as being "Normal Weight Obesity".  This means that their weight is within normal range, but their body fat percentage is high like an obese person.

I've been calling this phenomenon "skinny fat person" for a long time now.  I believe I was one myself!  My weight was fine, and I looked fine.  I worked out regularly.  I fit into a size 4, and I thought I ate healthy (scary!).  But when I got my body fat percentage measured, I was shocked to learn that it was definitely on the high side!  It wasn't until I went to see my nutritionist Allyson that I was able to get on a healthy meal plan and lose all the extra fat!  Well I believe there is always room for improvement, but I'm much leaner now with more lean muscle definitions showing!  I dropped 10 percentage points in body fat.  I feel great and I'm in the best shape of my life! 

So after learning what I know now, I feel for most people who try to lose weight by focusing on the duration of work out, or the number of calories consumed.  Working out and eating less will make you lose weight of course, but not necessarily body fat.  As the article says, you may be losing muscles and fat at the same time in the same rate, so your percentage of body fat to muscle mass still stays the same.  You will go from a fat person to a skinny fat person.  I think this is really the key here.  As Allyson said, it's 90% food and 10% work out.  So when most people focus on the 10% only, for an hour a day at the gym, they are neglecting the other 23 hours of the day when they may be pigging out on buffalo wings or a bottle of wine or what have you.  Hell, even if you worked out 2 hours a day, there's still 22 hours that you are not!  Eating the right food, however, will increase the metabolism and regularize blood sugar level, and the body will stay in burning mode all day, even during sleep!  I now have once a week cheat days when I can still eat the "crap" that just taste so good, and it doesn't even affect my body, but instead kicks up the metabolism even more.

I'm glad the Normal Weight Obesity issue has caught some attention and now people are realizing that even if their weight is "normal", they may still be in high risk of type 2 diabetes, or heart disease, or whatever.  It's tricky to know exactly what is "normal" body fat percentage for an individual, but I think if you are walking around with extra flab on your stomach area, then that's a warning sign.

So what is the solution?  Well it's good old exercise and eating right!  With emphasis on the latter.  I eat much more lean protein now than before.  I believe my protein intake is about 50% of my daily caloric intake.  The other 50% consists of about 20% healthy fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and 30% carb.  I eat multiple meals a day, and I make sure each meal gets the right combination of the 3, or at least 2 of the 3.  No carb for dinner.  I also drink 3 liters of water a day.  Exercising is like a catapult.  Cardio, especially running, is probably the best.  Combined with strength training, it's the best way to burn fat and build muscle.  It takes work and discipline, but it's definitely achievable!  Gosh now that I think about years of working out just to have a couple slices of pizza cancel out all the hard work - what a waste of time and energy!  I wish I had known what I know now, it would have saved a lot of heartache.  But I'm thankful that I learned early in life so I will be able to live the rest of my life in the healthy lifestyle.

I can go on and on about this, and I have told people about this who have asked me how I lost 4-5 sizes.  But most people really can't hear it!  It's amazing.  It's like I'm talking to a wall.  They just nod and smile, and say that they understand and want to do it, but I see them eating the same crap day and day after that.  It's really sad actually.  I guess nobody really wants to change unless they somehow get shocked into it.

I think this is why I oftentimes don't have respect for fat people.  Yes I did just say that!  I'm tired of sugar coating it "oh you are not fat!", or the denial tactic "there are way fatter people than me!", or finding excuses to justify being fat "I don't have time to eat right and exercise because I have 3 small children to take care of!".  I don't know, shouldn't having children make you WANT to live healthier and longer for their sake??  Being fat is NOT the way to go, trust me.  The people that got fat but are doing the right things to get better, I think that's great.  But what I cannot stand is the people who half ass want to get healthier, but still want to keep their old ways.  Then they complain about not being able to find clothes that fit, or joint pains, or how tired they are from walking up a flight of stairs.  Please... Wake up people!  If losing weight was so easy then obesity wouldn't be a pandemic.  I feel like people who can't stop finding excuses to actually DO IT are just lazy and mentally weak.  And for that, I cannot find any respect for.  I'm a firm believer of being able to achieve anything if you put your mind to it.  Honestly, we all can do it.  And after you do, you will see how much better life is when you are healthy and fit! 


  1. Hi, I recently started reading your blogs and really like your frank and simple way of writing. With regards to being fat, i can agree no less. I feel people are fat because they are lazy (well most of them, some may have genuine health problems). I have been struggling through out my life to maintain my weight. And i know the minute i stop exercising i gain wait. Thanks to all the eating!! You mentioned you took help of a nutritionist. Would you be able to provide me with her details. I live in Santa Monica and have been looking for one for a while now, but would like to speak with someone tried and tested.

    Thanks a lot and keep the blogs rolling in!

  2. Hi Shruti, I know exactly what you mean! For the genetically less fortunate, we have to be strict and keep on the regimen! Funny you should mention my nutritionist. She actually lives in Chino Hills - pretty far drive - not sure if that is an issue for you. But she also hasn't returned the last 5 voicemails / text messages / emails I sent her. Last I heard she was going to Costa Rica but was supposed to be only for a few weeks. So I'm not sure how to get a hold of her anymore! I'm going to keep trying though and I know some other people that also went to her so I can try asking them. I can pass on her info to you as soon as she becomes available again. Can you email me at if you are interested? If I can't get a hold of her, I can at least just tell you everything I learned from her and save you some $$$ haha


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