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Body Fat

Can You Be Thin and Fat?

By Steve Edwards and Denis Faye
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to Win!

In ShapeTwo stories about body fat have hit the wires recently and both deserve a deeper look than the headlines may indicate. The first is about a condition referred to as "skinny fat," which means that though your body mass index (BMI) may be normal, you're really out of shape. The second is about a book called Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss—and the Myths and Realities of Dieting, which basically lays the blame of obesity on your family history. So read on and we'll save you some time by getting to the skinny on being skinny.

The inside scoop on inside fat

It turns out that those "lucky" people you know who eat junk food all day and still keep their figures may not be as lucky as you think. A study from London's Imperial College shows that they may appear skinny to the naked eye, but in truth, they're fat on the inside, which could lead to a rash of health problems.

Since 1994, Dr. Jimmy Bell and his team at the college have done MRIs on nearly 800 people, creating "fat maps" that show where they store fat. As it turns out, people who don't maintain their weight with a combination of exercise and diet keep huge fat deposits around their internal organs.

The exact consequences of this inner blubber aren't clear yet, but it doesn't look good. We all have some of it, which tends to increase with age in order to "protect" our organs. But scientists theorize that excessive inner fat can confuse the body's communication systems, leading to heart disease, insulin resistance, or type 2 diabetes.

What is clear is that fat, active people have a much lower mortality rate than the skinny and sedentary. This means that, as far as your health is concerned, a fitness test is a much better indicator than a scale or what size dress you fit into. As Bell explained to the Associated Press, "the whole concept of being fat needs to be redefined."

I blame my parents!

ParentsAnd while we're talking about redefining the concept of fat, could it be your parents' fault that you're obese? That seems to be the theory of a new book by Gina Kolata titled Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss—and the Myths and Realities of Dieting. The book references a handful of studies that show that those who are genetically predetermined to be obese have greater rates of obesity than those who aren't, and that diet and exercise can't change that fact. It cites some good science and interesting studiesespecially those involving separated twinsto make its case. The book also cites some studies where those who had lost a lot of weight all seemed to gain it back. It's compelling reading, for sure, even for people like us who know full well from firsthand experience that a piece of the puzzle was being omitted. But before we could say "Hey, wait a minute... ," an interesting thing happened. The New York Times ran an excerpt from the book a few weeks back and opened up a forum for Kolata herself to field questions on the article. The results of this forum may make you want to think twice about purchasing Kolata's book or, at least, to read it with a skeptical eye and an open mind.

GeneticsIn the book, Kolata's premise is that genetics play a larger role in determining body shape and mass than diet and exercise possibly can. And while she provides scientific examples, she really hasn't covered the entire process in a thorough manner. In the forum, she began refuting feedback with science, but as the onslaught of responses became more technical and from varying points of view, her responses reverted to her own anecdotal evidence. For instance, she used the fact that her son only lost three pounds when he trained for a marathon as a reason exercise can't make someone thin. Faced with many individuals who had succeeded in greatly altering their body masses or inherited fitness states, her tone ranged from first sounding incredulous to just plain being shocked at the results people had gotten. Finally, under a mounting wave of pressure from contradictory opinions, she stopped answering altogether.

Success StoryThis is hardly shocking news to the folks at Million Dollar Body. If it were true, we wouldn't be in business. Kolata states that "very few people lose substantial amounts of weight and keep it off for good," but we have thousands of examples that have proven her wrong. In fact, if we were to scour the Message Boards, we'd be hard pressed to find any scenarioinjury, sickness, genetic obesitythat our clients have not conquered. While it's true that you can't change your body type, your natural athletic ability, or the genes you were born with, we have yet to find people who can't be made fitter and healthier and who can't change the way they look, with the proper prescription of diet and exercise. Our answer is to let 'em manufacture excuse science all they want, nothing is going to "prove" our methods don't work.

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I am a full time Beachbody Coach. I motivate and guide close to 2,500 Club members and head a team of 11 Beachbody Coaches who are all committed to helping you reach your goals. Before joining BeachBody, I was a certified personal trainer for more than a dozen years and have been a running coach for over 20 years. Continued...


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