Fit vs. fat: Pay more heed to the former than the latter

17 Oct

Could it be the carbs in a shrimp and crab po’ boy that are impacting my weight? Naaaaahhhh. But it sure tasted good after a 9-mile run.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in the last weeks of the buildup to my fall marathon has been maintaining a steady weight.

For my spring marathon, I got down to a 10- or 20-year low: 188 pounds. I attribute at least part of the credit for my marathon PR this spring to being at that weight lowpoint.

I was able to maintain that weight for most of the summer, but in the past six weeks or so, the scales have steadily crept up to about 197.

I have tried to eat healthy. I have tried to limit intake. But I’ve had mixed success with both attempts.

I did record more long runs for this training session than any other I’ve done in the past three or four years. In the past 10 weeks, I’ve logged 5 runs of 18 miles or longer. There have been numerous other runs in the 12-16 mile range.

And long training runs require fuel. I’ve been starved. And I’ve craved pure carbs. Between the snacks and the adult beverages, I have a pretty good idea why my weight has been on the upswing.

This weight gain has been weighing heavily on my mind — pun intended. Not only do I want to run well, I want to maintain a certain level of fitness and good health. I haven’t liked watching my weight climb higher.

So I was pleased when I read a blog where Dr. Michael Joyner, in reviewing a recent study, related that “remaining fit and active can trump a lot of the negative health risks associated with obesity.”

(Disclaimer: According to BMI, I am currently “overweight,” not anywhere near obese. In fact, about 8 years ago, I lost 13 percent of my body weight, and even at my heaviest, I was not obese, according to the BMI calculator. Although I was flirting with it.)

You can read all of Joyner’s blog entry here.

Obesity does put a person at increased risk for a shorter life and increased instances of cardiovascular disease. And that “increased risk is clearly amplified by being unfit,” Joyner wrote.

But he also wrote, “There are all sorts or reasons why being fit and active can trump other risk factors like obesity; less diabetes, blood vessels that stay relaxed, and better blood pressure control to name a few.”

Joyner’s entry also links to a New York Times story that examines the obesity paradox. That story offers two very interesting quotes:

“More often than not, cardiovascular fitness is a far more important predictor of mortality risk than just knowing what you weigh,” said Glenn Gaesser, author of “Big Fat Lies” and director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University.


“Maintaining fitness is good and maintaining low weight is good. But if you had to go off one, it looks like it’s more important to maintain your fitness than your leanness. Fitness looks a little bit more protective,” said Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans.

What’s my takeaway from all of this? If a bunch of medical experts are telling me that my fitness level is more important than my weight, I’m going to listen.

But then again, a friend of mine keeps telling me that you can pick up 2-3 seconds per mile for every pound of weight lost. And that’s nothing for a runner to ignore, either.


3 Responses to “Fit vs. fat: Pay more heed to the former than the latter”

  1. laura October 18, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    Cupcake, anyone?


  2. msmidt October 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    But they had fruit. 🙂



  1. Everything in moderation? « in the deed - February 8, 2013

    […] O’Keefe also references New Orleans’ physician Carl Lavie, whose work stressing fit over fat I referenced in an earlier blog. […]


I'd love to read your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Must Hike Must Eat

Sharing Trail Stories, Paleo Recipes and My Faith

Poetry In Motion

I'll stand before the Lord of Song / With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen

Running with Scissors

Careening through life as a mom, runner, ecologist, and writer

Hair with Samm

Images Hair Salon

Omni Running

Running for the fun of it

A trail running guy

A journey into running trails and ultra marathons

No Paine No Gain

Runner, writer - follow the adventure.

Hike Mt. Shasta

Exploring the Mount Shasta Region

Just Call Me Shortcut

thoughts from an ENFP who can't seem to stay on course

distance ahead


In the Shadow of the Rockies

Running the trails of Calgary, and beyond

Teton Romeo

Tails from Teton Valley, Idaho

Elevation Trail


Racing Through My Life

My Race Reports


where I do it all

Beaverhead 100K and 55K Endurance Runs

Run the remote and rugged Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in the Beaverhead Mountains dividing Idaho's Lemhi River Valley and Montana's Big Hole Valley.

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

One and a Half Runners

Don't be dumb in the first half, don't be a wimp in the second

amy c writes

words from a writer, runner and mama of twins


A topnotch site

Tim Tollefson

Trail junkie for Hoka One One; 2014 U.S. 50k Trail Champion; Physical Therapist, Mammoth Performance Lab Director; Coffee addict; Powered SRA Elite and GU; My wife and I have an open relationship with running...


Musings of a musician turned ultra runner

Running down a dream.

Ultra Runner Girl

Writing about running, war zones, and everything in between

Dan's Marathon

Running long distances across the country

Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Ultrarunner Joe

My experiences and insights from out on the trail

Rambling on the run

What I think about when I think about running

Jack & Viv

Running, reading and raising a family

Bryan Odeen

give your soul some breathing room

%d bloggers like this: