Fat or Not?

You know what’s messed up? Fat people get pissed off if  you say they’re fat. You know what’s even more messed up? Skinny people get pissed off if  you say they’re fat!

Case 1: Commenting on someone’s height

You go to Miss A. She is 4’9″ and 200 lbs.

You: Ummmm… you’re short.

She: Well yea. Nothing I can do about it… but hey the best things in life come in small packages right? (or some other lameass joke followed by a hehehehe)

You go to Miss B. She is 5’8″ and 120 lbs.

You: Ummmm… you’re short.

She: No. I’m actually 5’8″ which is 6″ more than the average height.

Fair enough right?

Case 2: Commenting on someone’s weight

You go to Miss A. She is 4’9″ and 200 lbs.

You: Ummmm… you’re fat.

She: I know it!! You’re a rude moron for saying it to my face though! (This is followed by 3 days of stuffing her face with every kind of junk food available.)

You go to Miss B. She is 5’8″ and 120 lbs.

You: Ummmm… you’re fat.

She: I know it!! You’re a rude moron for saying it to my face though! (This is followed by 3 days of starvation, 5 hrs on the elliptical each day and of course throwing up whatever little bile that is secreted)

Why this madness? Well… because people don’t know if they are fat or not. You would think it’s pretty straight forward but a lot of people don’t have a damn clue about their position on the weight chart. A recent study done on 2,224 women shows that 25% of overweight women perceive their weight as normal and 16% of normal weight women perceive themselves as overweight.

But how does this matter to me as a fitness/nutrition coach and why do I give a crap?

Well… a bunch of people who are fat don’t think they’re fat and another bunch of people  who are skinny  actually think they’re fat. This means that the first bunch will read fitness blogs/news, continue to eat junk and make fun of other fat people and the second bunch will end up starving themselves or practice some form of bulimia because some random guy called them fat or most probably said something like ‘would you be more comfortable on the couch?’

Why is this the case?

Because ‘fat’ is the new ‘normal’. Everyone around you is fat. When I was a kid, spotting a 300 lbs person in a crowd was like seeing a snake. Everyone went ‘Damn! That guy is fat!’. Today, TV commercials have fat guys with hot girls, there are TV shows dedicated to ‘big people’, kids in movies and commercials are chubby, doctors are pre-diabetic/diabetic and overweight nutritionists go on junk food diets to lose weight.

Doctor, can I take my pills with a box of cookies just like you do?

Basically, even without your knowledge, you are comparing yourself to these folks. So, though you are fat, you look at the people around you and think ‘Ah! I’m not fat. I’m like this guy and definitely skinnier than that guy!‘. But ‘this guy’ is fat and ‘that guy’ is obese. So that makes you… drum roll… fat!

Moral: Stop comparing yourself to Oprah and read on.

How to find out if you are fat?

As ridiculous as it seems I am now going to teach you ways to find out if you are fat.

  1. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 25 you are considered overweight which means ‘You’re fat’ and if you’re BMI is greater than 30 you are considered clinically obese which basically means “Holy shit! You’re a fat fuck!’. Calculate your BMI here. (Note: If you are a 200lb bodybuilder the BMI thing doesn’t apply to you)
  2. If you are a bodybuilder or strength athlete, BMI doesn’t really mean much to you. Body fat percentage will be your measure. If you are man/woman with above 20%/29% body fat, you’re fat.
  3. Stand with your back against a wall. Look down by tilting your head only (do not bend forward). If you can’t see your toes, you’re fat.
  4. Stand in front of a mirror. Shake your mid-section. If you see stuff jiggling uncontrollably you’re most likely fat.
  5. If you don’t do strength/resistance training (and you are not a teenager) and gained weight, you can safely assume you put on fat.
  6. If the above five methods don’t work, use the following free service:

Email your picture to raj.hbfser@gmail.com and I will gladly tell you if you’re fat.*

Realizing you are fat is the first step. Please check your ego at the door, try to find out if you are fat and if you are fat, realize that it is not just about looks. Fat** people (overweight and obese) are at a very high risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, arthritis and other metabolic syndrome diseases. I’m not kidding here. Excerpt from the link:

Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms: Extra weight around your waist (central or abdominal obesity)

Stay fit folks. It’s pretty dangerous out there.


* This service is available to everyone except my girlfriend.

** The person who perfectly guesses the number of times I said ‘fat’ in this post will win a free year’s supply of Oreo cookies.

9 responses to “Fat or Not?

  1. Pramod November 30, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Hi Raj,
    I followed many of your tips.. I got the inspiration from your posts. Now, I eat light, avoid rice/wheat as much as I can while sticking to veggies. I exercise everyday (read 5k speed walk). I don’t check weight so often because 1. I dont have a weighing machine 2. I may tend to check my weight more often than necessary.

    So after about 2-3 months of this routine, I went to a friend’s place, used his machine and found that I had lost 15 lbs since I last checked. Felt happy and more motivated! Thanks for the posts. Keep them coming.


    • RG November 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm

      Congrats on the change and much respect to you for sticking with the plan. Now that you are 15 lbs lighter and your eating habits are better than before, you should consider working out on a more consistent basis. Move on from the 5k walk/run to high intensity stuff and you will see dramatic body composition chances.

      Keep us posted on how well you do from here on.

  2. Mahesh November 30, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I know you have mentioned it but I do want to stress that BMI might actually quite misleading among certain demographics – especially among indians and other asian countries. The guy could have lost weight (like the case above) have a BMI of 20-22 but could still have a reasonable amount of b fat which is more common. So these people would definitely have to replace that skinny fat with mucle mass.

  3. Pooja November 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    What I don’t get is this:

    Being called fat is considered an insult, but being called skinny isn’t. What they don’t know is that the skinny (I like “slim” better) person could probably beat them hands down in any physical activity. Serious attitude change required overall.

  4. Mahesh November 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Good job Pramod! Keep it up

  5. Arun December 1, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Raj, I’ve heard people attribute their obesity to their genetic makeup. Do you have more insight into the contribution of genes to obesity?

    • RG December 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm

      Genetic obesity exists. It’s true that some people run fatter than others just like how there are people who eat pizza and fries for every meal and still have a ripped body. It’s very rare that someone is genetically ‘obese’. Most people you know are overweight or obese because of their eating habits and lifestyle. I am yet to meet anyone who eats clean and lives an active lifestyle and is still obese.

  6. Pingback: Psychology Of Getting Fit – Part 1: Realization « Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

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