What Is Fat?

What is fat? Well, fat is an essential macronutrient, or it’s the storage in the body of an excess of calories, but that’s not really what I’m asking. That’s what it is from a scientific point of view, but what is it from an emotional or psychological point of view? There’s no definitive number at which you become “fat”, it’s a state of mind. It’s feeling a certain way about yourself, whether you’re right or wrong about that feeling. I may not personally think you’re fat, but if you do, then that’s your cross to bear. There aren’t really any ways to properly judge obesity. We all know the classic BMI measurement, but then we also know that pretty much all professional rugby players would be classed as morbidly obese under it, when they are clearly not. You have a more useful measurement in your body fat percentage, but then decent machines or ways to measure that are hard to come by, and still often inaccurate. So fat essentially becomes a personal feeling for the individual. Do you feel fat?

I’m reminded of the phrase that’s so common nowadays, ‘Are you beach body ready?’ Well surely it doesn’t matter if you’re 25 stone and 40% body fat, or 12 stone and 8% body fat, if you think you’re beach body ready, then you’re beach body ready. If you don’t think you’re beach body ready, then you likely have an issue with the way you look, and you should probably try and address that. I can’t imagine it’s a healthy frame of mind to be in, a mindset where you dislike the way you look, or even hate it. I, by no means, think my body is perfect, there are things I want to improve. But I’m either working on them now, or I’m not letting them affect me, and planning to work on it in the future.

And this phrase seems to have arisen from an advert a few years ago, and it caused outrage! Some attractive slim model plastered on a wall, next to the slogan, ‘Are you beach body ready yet?’ And people were baying for blood, crying ‘fat shaming, how can we aspire to this?’ We’ll ignore the irony of most of these people who were screaming body shaming, in the very same sentences, body shaming this poor model. ‘She’s disgusting, she’s too thin, I wouldn’t want to look like her anyway, she probably doesn’t eat anything.’ And fyi this poor women probably had nothing to do with this campaign, she’s been paid to turn up and have her photo taken, her image used for whatever, and yet she was vilified like she was personally attacking people.

What strikes me, is that the people who were offended by something like that, that outrage probably stems from their own insecurities. If I’m seeing something that’s saying are you beach body ready, and I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, I am,’ then no matter what size I am, what shape I am, how I look, mentally that advert hasn’t affected me. If I’m seeing it, and getting angry, getting offended, then it’s likely that comes from a problem I have with myself, not necessarily a problem I have with the advert. As far as I remember, the advert never claimed you had to look like the model, it just posed the question, and the answer was up to you. The amusing thing for me is, I can’t even remember what it was actually advertising!

Being “beach body ready”, being “fat”, they are a state of mind. I think, therefore I am. If you feel you are, then you might want to look at changing that. Now I’m aware that’s a dangerous statement to make, because there may be people who aren’t fat or obese in anyone’s eyes, yet they feel that way, and it leads them down unhealthy paths, such as bulimia or drugs. But really it boils down to the fact that it is a mental state. If you’re truly happy with yourself, no matter what size you are, then brilliant, that’s where you want to be. If you’re not happy with yourself, then maybe look into doing something about it. The beauty of making physical changes, and even small ones can have a great effect on you, is that they’re easier to achieve, and you often have power to achieve them. You just need to accept how you really feel about yourself, and then make a decision about it. Ask yourself two questions, ‘Am I happy with myself?’, and if not, ‘Can I change that naturally?’ Because if you can, then what’s stopping you? If there’s a natural and healthy way you can be happier with yourself, surely it’s worth a shot.

Be honest with yourself, don’t panic, think long term with any changes you want to make, and find a way to love yourself. See you next week for my Christmas blog.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer