Being a Little Overweight Can Reduce Life Expectancy And Increase Health Risks

August 7, 2009

It has been shown that being obese can increase risk of an early death by 2 to 3 times, but what about being just a little overweight?

In my day to day life I see many examples of people who are just a little overweight. In fact, I would guess that at least 1/3 of the people I know who are over the age of 50 fit into this category.

I have found a few studies that show that being overweight increases the risk for several life threatening diseases.

overweight obese

[I love seeing older people who are full of energy and goofing around, like this couple. Honestly, there is no reason to grow up and act like an elderly person is “suppose to”. I say no to all of that! I am aiming for 40-50 more years of fun and excitement.]

How to Increase the Odds of a Long and Healthy Life

None of us is guaranteed a long life even if doing everything right. My mom died of breast cancer at the age of 36, despite being slim and eating well, etc.

When I was younger, 36 sounded old…but now that I turn 40 this year, I realize that 36 years goes by in a flash. Even if you eat well and workout and do everything you are suppose to do, things can go wrong. The point of this article isn’t to say that you can control how long you live or that overweight people will have a much shorter life.

I just want to help people to realize that they can increase their odds of living a long life.

My Interviews With CEO’s of Big Pharmaceutical Companies

Back in 2002, I was an Executive Recruiter for VP and Director level medicinal chemists. These are the Ph.D. level scientists who discover the lead compounds that then go through clinical trials and are hopefully made into billion dollar drugs.

Part of my work was doing reference checks for these high level scientists. What this entailed was calling some of the top CEO’s in some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, as well as talking to world-renowned professors.

When you are calling the lead scientist who worked on Claritin or Viagra, you get a little nervous!

The One Phone Interview That I Will Never, Ever Forget…

I became friends with one professor in particular in an Ivy League school known for their chemistry department. This guy’s program produced some of the world’s top chemists.

I called him so often for references that he recognized my voice. This guy spent his entire life devoted to discovering ways to improve health and increase life span. He had been involved with countless clinical trials with hundreds of thousands of people.

Here is what he told me…”Rusty, the number one way to avoid any disease is to never get overweight. It is not politically correct, but the less time you spend in your life being overweight, the less likely you are to get any major disease“.

The professor went on to say that nobody is going to go out and say this, due to the backlash it would create…since such a large portion of the population is overweight.

Let’s Talk About Scientific Studies That Back This Up

So for the past 7 years, I have had a feeling that being overweight increased chance of getting any chronic disease…not just the typical diseases people link to being overweight (by the way, this professor wasn’t the only scientist I interviewed that had come to this conclusion).

I don’t expect for people to just take my word on this about phone interviews I had 7 years ago, so here are some studies I found that back this up.

Overweight, Obesity, and Mortality in a Large Prospective Cohort of Persons 50 to 71 Years Old
New England Journal of Medicine, August 2006

This study followed 527,265 men and women who enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Study from 1995-1996. At the time of their enrollment, back in 1995, these people were all between the ages of 50-71. The 2006 study tracked these people 10 years later and looked at mortality rates. During those 10 years, 61,317 participants died.

They decided to look at data of just healthy non-smokers, because smoking would skew the data.

“When the analysis was restricted to healthy people who had never smoked, the risk of death was associated with both overweight and obesity among men and women. In analyses of BMI during midlife (age of 50 years) among those who had never smoked, the associations became stronger, with the risk of death increasing by 20 to 40 percent among overweight persons and by two to at least three times among obese persons.”

“Excess body weight during midlife, including overweight, is associated with an increased risk of death.”

Adiposity as Compared with Physical Activity in Predicting Mortality among Women
New England Journal of Medicine, December 2004

This study was seeing if it was okay to be overweight as long as someone stayed active. This study followed 116,564 women ages 30-55 for 24 years.

During this 24 year period of time, 10,282 deaths occurred – 2370 from cardiovascular disease, 5223 from cancer, and 2689 from other causes.

Their findings were extremely interesting!

“Mortality rates increased monotonically with higher body-mass-index values among women who had never smoked. In combined analyses of all participants, adiposity predicted a higher risk of death regardless of the level of physical activity. Higher levels of physical activity appeared to be beneficial at all levels of adiposity but did not eliminate the higher risk of death associated with obesity.”

Even modest weight gain during adulthood, independent of physical activity, was associated with a higher risk of death.”

***Read that underlined sentence again. This shows that the professor I spoke with back in 2002 was correct…”It is not politically correct, but the less time you spend in your life being overweight, the less likely you are to get any major disease.”

…but you can’t be slim without being active either. Here is another finding from this study.

“We estimate that excess weight (defined as a body-mass index of 25 or higher) and physical inactivity (less than 3.5 hours of exercise per week) together could account for 31 percent of all premature deaths, 59 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease, and 21 percent of deaths from cancer among nonsmoking women.”

Again, This is Just About Increasing Your Odds of a Long Life

We have no guarantees in life, but it looks like you can stack the deck in your favor if you stay lean and active your entire adult life. If you have been overweight for a long time, then the time to lean down is yesterday.

Not trying to be harsh, I just hope this will push people into action. You will look and feel better and most likely live longer. One more thing, this shows once again how “bulking up” is a stupid approach to gaining muscle…no reason to ever gain body fat on purpose (had to throw that in there).

Calculating Your BMI

I found a fun BMI calculator that tells you what celebrity has the closest BMI to you. The main thing I wanted to do, was to give you an easy way to figure this out your BMI and this calculator does the trick. My BMI was a 23.4 which is close to the same as Kobe Bryant. Give it a shot…it is kind of fun!

.

Normal (18.5 – 24.9), Overweight (25 – 29.9), Obese (=> 30)

Note: BMI gives you a good estimate of where you stand, but it isn’t always exact.

I would encourage people to try and stay within the normal range if possible.

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Helder August 7, 2009 at 6:54 pm

It’s so true what you wrote here, a few weeks ago i’ve read a study that was saying exactly the same, being overweight is bad for everything, and it’s really everything.

It place higher stress on your bones, and that means that when you get older you’ll have trouble just to walk, it ruins your Heart and blood circulation, and increases the risk of bad diseases.

I really Love the idea of being fit when i’m old, i think it’s wonderful to keep living a full Life even when i’m old, it’s really a wonderful thing, Life lived with joy and capacity no matter what your age is

Greg at Live Fit August 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

A few days ago, three of my friends and I were talking about this very subject. At one time, by any metric, I would have been considered obese. The other guys in the room are all obese.

We were talking about health matters. One of them says “…that fat thing is the worst thing for you. Maybe not as bad as smoking, but just awful…”

Listening to a few fat guys talking about how bad it was to be fat was enough to convince me that choosing to be healthy was one of the best things I could have ever done…

David @ The Fat Loss Authority August 7, 2009 at 8:36 pm

OK… so my celebrity BMI is Billy Zane. Was hoping for the 300 dude (Gerard Butler?) to no avail;)

I totally want to be a fit old guy because half the guys I see in their 60s either have bad knees or backs and look completely helpless. Kinda of sad but definitely a reality check.

Brandon August 8, 2009 at 12:29 am

i got kobe as well rusty…21…

Norbi August 8, 2009 at 12:39 am

Well, then I’m happy I only let myself be somewhat overweight for about 2 years, not more. Just another reason to keep it up. My BMI is 21.4, and I got Kobe too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Joe August 8, 2009 at 2:19 am

Hi everyone in this forum, this message is to rusty and anyone else in this forum who cares to provide their opinion:

is it okay to do the 21days straight of cardio along with Eat stop eat? Didn’t know if this would be to extreme along with fasting 2 days a week since you are doing 60min of cardio with 20min of high intensity for 21days. thanks for your helpโ€ฆ

Aditya August 8, 2009 at 2:59 am

Lol I got Keannu Reaves and David Beckham with a BMI of 22!

Terry August 8, 2009 at 9:02 am

Wow. What a fantastic post!

I was thinking of sending it to a fat friend but I know she’ll never speak to me again. That professor was right, about it not being politically correct. For so many people it’s like some sort of social justice issue. Especially women. They are so titchy about adipose tissue and they denigrate slender women. That’s OK. Politically fine to trash the thin and attractive.

They actually fight for stuff like fat Barbie dolls and fat models in fashion magazines. Go figure.

I got Jessica Alba. Don’t tell my fat friends.

suat August 8, 2009 at 10:14 am

Hi Rusty! great post as a skinny person myself there is something to be proud of;-)
what about this japanese study???

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?

I am sure one research against so many others doesn`t mean anything but again it leaves question mark in minds.

mickieb August 8, 2009 at 10:17 am

I got Mariah Carey with 22.4 BMI! Cool! And I agree 110% with this article. And if you have noticed, the centenarians of the world are not overweight!

Look this up if anyone is interested: Blue Zones of the World. A study and research of people over 100 in grouped in certain areas of the world.

Tamara of In the Night Farm August 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

19.5 and Jennifer Lopez for me. Heh. At least I actually know who she is…not much into pop culture, me. I’m too busy staying fit! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for another good post.

Eldi August 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

“Bulking up” maybe be stupid but what is a reasonably lean, 23-yo 125lber who works out to do to get to 160lbs thereby allowing him to lose the skinny look? I got kobe bryant too but my BMI is 19.

hey! August 8, 2009 at 3:00 pm

hey rusty

cool…yes i consider overweightness to be a “sin” hehe…not really but you get my drift. but consider this. i am in europe right now and EVERYONE is ALWAYS telling me to eat, eat, eat. they somehow equate a “good paunch” with being “healthy” and thus “well fed” even though i am a 21.1, visible but not totally defined abs, skip, run, etc.

i talked to someone about this, and he thinks it is because of the effects of WW2, when there was massive food rationing and people basically didnt know when they would get a good square meal next. in this regard, i think it is something perpetuated by the older population onto the younger population. if anyone here has european family/ancestors you know what i mean! they probably would be scared to death of “intermittent fasting”/ESE!

chica August 8, 2009 at 3:26 pm

hey rusty,

this is off topic, but I wanted to ask your advice on something. I noticed you recommend the adonis effect. The adonis effect prescribes a fairly narrow ideal range of waist sizes, based on your height. For me (at 5 foot 10) it’s 31.5-33 inches. I used to be in this range, but while trying to slim down, I’ve gone down to 30 inches, at about 11% bodyfat, and if I want to get a visible six pack (which I do) I’ll have to go even lower, probably to 28 or so.

So i wanted to ask which you think will give me a better look. Should I try to get very lean, and have a correspondingly very narrow waist, or should I stick to the “ideal” measurements laid out in the adonis effect, and acccept that I’ll carry a bit of excess body fat (not much. Probably less than most guys carry, but still too much for a visible six pack)? Or is there a third option I’m missing?

thanks,

chica

Ran August 8, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Such a good post! more incentive for me to lose that last 10 pounds. ๐Ÿ™‚ also thanks for reminding people that the BMI is only an approximation of our ideal body weight. My girlfriend was in kung fu in high school, six pack, really fit, and because of her body type weighed around 150, technically overweight for her height. the DD breasts probably added 10 pounds, lol!

Also, terri, remember it’s pretty much as bad to be underweight than overweight. Barbie could use some bulking up, because if she were a real person her waist couldn’t support her and she’d break in half. And some of the models! they look like if you hugged them they’d shatter! I say we push for more fit women on magazine covers instead of going too far in either direction

Scott August 8, 2009 at 5:05 pm

I never have my clients use BMI as a guage. I use calipers. I have this one friend who is like 200 lbs and single digit percent body fat and when he uses BMI it tells him he need to lose fat.

Jason G August 8, 2009 at 5:20 pm

These studies that link being slightly over weight with higher mortality rates are naturally misleading because of the numerous variables. The skinnier people in those studies probably eat more fruits and vegetables and are more health conscious. Either way most people who are skinny make better food choices and will as result live longer. I am also a firm believer that people who eat less in their life time will live longer. So body builders who spend numerous years over consuming even to maintain their large lean physiques will probably live less long. I think it is even possible that people who burn thousands of calories doing excessive cardio and then consume larger amounts of food to make up for it may live less long than if they did moderate cardio and ate a lot less. I know that statement is controversial but even my doctor said there is a point where you get diminishing returns when exercising.

Helder August 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm

At Joe:

It all depends on how fit you are, and how you’ve been eating, it’s my personal opinion that if you are not in a good physical condition that it’s extreme. Besides if you never fasted before it will be hard, you’ll feel depleted.

I think it’s better to go slow, i don’t know how fit you are, but i’ll imagine you’re in a average condition. You should start working out 3/4 times a week doing HIIT, something like sprints and then walking slow for 30 to 45 minutes.

With nutrition you should start cutting on carbs slowly, but beware of your brain, some people start to have trouble sleeping, thinking, focusing, because of the lack of carbs, if you feel that way, add a little more carbs until you feel fine. Always listen to your body.

After a few weeks, depending on your condition you might try that aproach you said to burn those last hard pounds, that are always the harder ones to burn.

Sue August 8, 2009 at 9:14 pm

I agree with what Jason G said.

Rafi Bar-Lev - The Fitness Adviser August 9, 2009 at 2:09 am

Rusty, what do you think about this study on MSN that says that being a little overweight can _increase_ life expectancy(I actually thought you were going to quote this study when I first read the article)? http://health.msn.com/health…100240886

-Rafi

Jeremy August 9, 2009 at 4:56 am

Nic Cage – not sure what to think about that (not completely positive!).

My choice to be healthy and a normal weight about health and body image.

@ joe August 9, 2009 at 5:32 am

hey joe, to build on what helder said…

basically, even if you are in really good shape, i think 21 days straight would still be killer…you may find you are just physically unable to run by the 4th or 5th day unless you tear every leg muscle in your body. to use myself as an example, currently i am training for a half marathon and just now i ran it as a HIIT (1:15 high/1:00 low) in 1:44….still have some work to do! ๐Ÿ˜‰ now tomorrow if i run this again tomorrow for example, i know i would seriously injure myself, and do more harm than good.

i think its better to focus on your diet more than cardio…you will probably obtain faster results drastically changing your diet then if you drastically start exercising. dont eat any processed food i.e. processed sugar, processed grains, etc., do something like ESE and youll be good…rusty knows more about dieting hard than i do.

Jo August 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

There is increasing evidence to support what jason G is saying. Studies in mice and more recently in Monkeys have found that animals who eat less live longer and are much less likely to get cancers ect. If I remeber correctly a mouse that eats as much as it wants lives to around 2 years, but a mouse that lives off a restricted diet lives to around 3 years.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8141082.stm

Sue G August 9, 2009 at 9:44 am

Well, I am old – at least some people think so, not me – and my BMI is about 21. I do think BMI can be misleading though, especially for big muscular guys – not my problem, being I am barely even 5’4″. Oh by the way, I am 56 years on the planet, and, thanks to Rusty, do 2 sessions of sprints each week, bodyweight exercises a couple of times a week, plenty of walking daily, enjoy a mostly Paleo eating style, with only fruit in the am, and plan to continue for decades. AARP may think I am a senior citizen, but that’s for the birds. 56 is young!

Donรฉ August 9, 2009 at 9:49 am

Hello Rusty…

Great post as always… and yes im one of those that will never grow up hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

I have a fruity question for you… Is fruit really that bad for insulin spike? I LOVE FRUIT!!!! I am actually one of those people that could live of fruit. Im following a low carb diet and i love how my body feels on it …. but i miss fruit… ive cheated how many times with apples, grapes, banana YUM!!!
I still want to lose some more kg and have a holiday coming up in 2 months..

My question is – can i just live on fruit? (ill include the odd meal during the weekend… since im South African – BBQ is second nature hehe) Can i still lose fat while eating fruits only, considering their high carbs and sugar content.
I feel clean when im having an apple… i dont feel clean while munching a sausage ๐Ÿ™‚

I know this is a weird question – but i cant find a straight forward answer on the web…

Thanks a lot for your help!!!

xoxoxox
Donรฉ

Terry August 9, 2009 at 10:45 am

That’s a good point, Ran, maybe a little bulking up.

I’m not underweight. I’m small boned so I really probably don’t have Jessica Alba’s BMI.

I also know I seem to eat three times as much as some of my chunky friends. So genetics must play a role. I guess that means I won’t be living to be a hundred.

Actually, even though they annoy me sometimes, with their whining about thin people, I feel bad for my hefty friends. I try to encourage them and tell them they look good but they’re unhappy. I think exercise does play a role in emotional health and they hate exercise.

Shaun August 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Heeeey. Bulking up isn’t a bad thing. Bulking up like a body builder is yes, but to bulk for a healthy look isn’t. One must increase there metabolism in general to remain lean. (13 ways i have recently described) and this article is full on correct. Less fat = Longer life. Something i stated in ’10 reasons to workout’

STAYFIT
Shaun

David August 10, 2009 at 1:07 am

Great post, Rusty! My aunt truly enjoyed this and tells me to thank you for posting this!

She is most grateful for the information.

I know this is rather off-topic, but I’m going for the Cam gigandet/Brad pitt look and am well on my way, but I work one muscle group for each day of the week, and am on a great diet.

(Low-volume, low-rep for definition.)

i.e
monday-chest
tuesday-arms
wed-shoulders
thurs-back

I also play basketball and enjoy a good run every other day.
Is it “good” to have a workout where I spread the muscle groups throughout the days of the week like this? Or should I do two muscle groups a day every other day..?

Jason G August 10, 2009 at 5:05 am

Rafi & suat,
Some of those underweight lifespan studies measure the BMI at time of death. Obviously many people who die become very skinny because of their illness. I am not sure if that was the case in those particular studies, but I just wanted to point that out. Scientist really have no clue. I think that people worried about longevity should just focus on not burdening their system by eating foods that have no nutritional purpose. Only eat nutritionally dense foods if longevity is your concern. Oh yah and the chances are you will end up skinny!

sangita August 10, 2009 at 7:13 am

This is really sobering information. I too was one of those people who believed that it was ok to be a little overweight as long as you were reasonably active. As a doctor of alternative medicine (Ayurveda) I used to tell that to my patients. Well looks like I have to change my tune now. Maybe its not so much about the little excess weight as the fact that we are all becoming more sedentary. (The post you did on walking where you mentioned that even if you were exercising regularly it was still dangerous if you were sedentary for long periods of time).
BTW when you say even modest weight gain is associated with higher risk of death. what would you calssify as modest weight gain? Thanks

Vic Magary - GymJunkies August 10, 2009 at 9:08 am

Great post! Thats weight loss motivation 101.

Brad August 10, 2009 at 9:59 am

Hey Rusty, sort of off-topic,

i do a lot of brain-intensive work throughout the day, solving (or at least trying to solve) challenging math/programming/physics problems. i am concerned that my brain may not be getting the energy needed to focus on such tasks. i was wondering if you know of any research that shows the effects of fasting and brain performance/function. does one burn more calories sitting in my chair vs. sitting in my chair but studying, i mean, like, _really_ thinking? right now i have a mega headache which i assume may be from doing programming/math all day without anything to eat…

Rick August 10, 2009 at 10:46 am

Rusty. I discovered your site about two months ago and since then have really adopted a lot of your protocols (ESE, low volume strength training, etc.) with great success. I have lost about 10 pounds in the last two months. However, for the last 10+ years I have followed the traditional bodybuilding fitness and nutrition protocols and tried to “get big”. I am 6′ 0″, and about 195lbs now. According to this, my BMI is 26.4 (Lebron James was my match). That is in the overweight range though. I am not nearly as lean as I plan on getting over the next several months, but I can see my abs and pretty moderate muscle tone. Is this accurate, or could it be thrown off by the extra muscle that I am carrying arouond?

Thanks for your help.

admin August 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Helder,

I used to be worried about getting old, but then I decided that I didn’t have to follow the normal path. There is no reason why you can’t have fun until the end of your life.

Greg,

The great thing is that most people can control this. Even if it takes more work for some to be lean, it is worth the effort.

David,

I plan on being fit and running around well into my 60’s and beyond. As long as you never let yourself slide, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Brandon & Norbi,

Seems like the celebrity BMI calculator is limited in how many celebrities it lists.

Joe,

You probably can’t go that extreme for that long. Either back off a bit, or limit this aggresive workout and diet plan to 10 days.

Aditya,

That is funny. David Beckham is in much better condition that Keanu Reeves, but they are just measuring weight vs height.

Terry,

People are quick to criticize slim people. So weird that this is acceptable, but mentioning that someone needs to drop a few pounds is looked at as mean and shallow.

suat,

I have seen that study, but the sample size in those studies were quite a bit smaller than the studies I have cited. Obviously, super-skinny isn’t healthy either.

mickieb,

It does seem that most of the oldest people alive that I have seen on TV are slim…something to be said for that.

Tamara,

Jennifer Lopez is a good example of a fit, yet feminine looking woman.

Eldi,

What I mean by bulking up, is adding excess fat in the pursuit of gaining muscle. Increasing muscle mass is fine, but the best approach is to do it without adding on a bunch of fat.

hey!,

You make a good point. This isn’t just in the European population either. The older generation equates being slim, with being unhealthy. This makes sense to people who lived through the depression and through WW2.

chica,

Good question. I would aim for the visible six pack at the lower waist size for now. My guess is that you will eventually add an inch or two to your waist over time. I am not sure of your age, but as you workout for a while, you will ad a little bit of muscle to your lower back, obliques, and abs…which all ad a little bit of size to the waist line.

Ran,

The BMI makes for a good starting point, but it isn’t an absolute…there are a few variables that can sway the number in either direction.

Scott,

I like to use calipers as well. Body fat percentage is a good measure for sure. That being said, I think the ideal size for long term health is close to the normal BMI range and at low body fat. Some bodybuilders have massive BMI number at a low body fat level…unhealthy in my opinion…even if it is mainly muscle.

Jason G,

Great point…I think there is something to be said for not consuming massive amounts of calories. I used to eat many calories during the day and then spend 5-6 days a week doing cardio. The best approach is to not eat those excesss calories in the first place and do 1/3-1/4 of the cardio.

Helder,

Great advice. Like you said…it is best to go slow and save some of these more agressive methods for when people have 4-5 stubborn pounds to lose. Either way…he needs to be careful to not go too agressive for too long of a period of time.

Rafi,

The sample size for this study was much smaller than the studies that I cited. Also…this study didn’t seperate non-smokers from smokers and people who had low body weights due to being sick. The first study I cited claimed that when they didn’t pull out the smokers and slim people will diseases that the data showed that overweight people did live longer. Once they isolated the study to just look at healthy non-smokers, they found that overweight people had a shorter life expectancy.

Jo,

There is great evidence that supports eating less. I actually have made an effort this past year to reduce my portion sizes. The side benefit is the ability to stay just as lean with less time working out.

Sue G,

Great points…Mark Sisson (MarksDailyApple.com) is around the same age and is in better shape than most 18 year olds. Sounds like you are doing everything right to keep a great BMI.

Done,

Fruit isn’t bad for insulin spikes, fruit juice is. You can eat a lot of fruit and stay lean. I don’t think you will want to live on fruit, but it can be a major portion of your diet. Type in fruit into the search bar in the upper right hand corner of my site…then click on the post that comes up that says “Incredible Fruit Facts: Why Fruit Should Be a Major Part of Your Diet”.

Terry,

People who hate exercise and who are overweight, have a grim future ahead of them. You can’t control what people do, but keep suggesting in different ways that it would be in their best interest to slim down.

Shaun,

Adding muscle is fine…I am talking about the practice of adding fat and muscle when I say “bulking up”.

David,

The only reason you would want to do one muscle group per workout is if you were doing many sets and reps for that muscle group. This is mainly an approach to gaining mass. Bodybuilders do this, because they are doing high volume of sets and reps and need more rest in between training each muscle group to recover. You don’t need as much time in between training each muscle group, because you aren’t breaking down the muscle. I would recommend Chest and Back in one workout and Shoulders and Arms in another workout. Maybe just lift 3-4 times per week, since you are doing are getting plenty activity in addition to weight lifting.

sangita,

I would pay attention to the BMI to a certain extent, not the amount of weight gained. People don’t need to be extremely defined to be healthy, just no big visible fat bulges and they are probably fine.

Vic,

Yep…just another reason to stay lean your entire life.

Brad,

I haven’t seen a study address this. If you feel terrible from fasting, then maybe limit it to just once a week on a day where you don’t have to solve complex problems. I find that over time, you will find it easy to fast, but at first it may be a challenge.

Rick,

You sound like you are doing fine. You may want to lighten up a bit to just feel better. I was around a 27 BMI at one point in my life, even though I was at a low body fat percentage. I felt heavy and less athletic. Once you lighten up a bit you feel agile and thing like hiking or walking up flights of stairs feel better.

Great Comments!

Rusty

Rick August 10, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Thanks Rusty. I do want to lose some weight. I would like to lose about 15 more pounds. Do you think that what I am doing now is good enough to meet that goal? I fast twice a week and eat pretty clean (paleo style) and usually have a cheat meal or two or go out for drinks on the weekends. I am planning on going to a law enforcement academy in the next 6 months or so (hopefully). Am I doing okay now? Or do you think I need to eliminate the cheat meal/going out part? Also, should I lessen my strength training for a while and do more HIIT and bodyweight circuits in order to lighten up? Thanks again. I really appreciate what you are doing here.

Josh August 10, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Rusty,
Great post as usual! It reminds me that none of us is getting younger, but with a little bit of luck and effort we can live a healthy and active lifestyle for many many years.. Henry Rollins is near 50 and looks fantastic! Clarence Bass has a physique at 70 years old that would be the envy of most 30 year old gym goers. And don’t even get me started on Jack Lalane!! I spent most of my 20’s trying to “bulk up” and be as large as possible, I was rewarded with a really strong bench press but also a double chin and a size 38-40 (depending on the cut) jeans. Now in my 30’s I not only want to look good, I want to avoid things like hypertension. I do think people are rethinking fitness and that “bodybuilding” as we know it will die a slow, painfull and well deserved death. (Sorry to sound harsh there, but we are talking about an industry that exploits the insecurities of good people in particular teenagers, sells them useless junk, leads some down the path of drug abuse, and as opposed to promoting fitness and health robs people of it!)

Frank Z August 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Good post man, appreciate the link to literature too… it’s a good reminder to why most of us exercise in the first place is to hopefully live long productive healthy and happy lives. this means we gotta go out and enjoy life and be willing to do stuff. folks like jack lalanne really are inspiring and shows that our minds and attitudes are very connected to what we do with ourselves physically. good post again.

Norbi August 10, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Terry,

that’s interesting what you said about your girlfriends, and then Rusty’s reply to it. I just watched Super Size Me (you know that movie where the guy eats only McDonalds for 31 days) – anyway, the guy in the movie mentioned that in his opinion overweight people should face the same pressure as smokers in the States; like kind of changing the ‘social status’ of being overweight, so that it’d push more people towards changing their habits. By the way the movie is a little bit corny, but certainly very interesting, in case someone haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth checking it out.

tylersg3 August 10, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Rusty,

I got Kobe as well, 22.4. I’ve always been very lean & will always be on the lean side. I just always find myself wanting to pick up some more muscle. I have a good amount, I’m 6’1 weigh 170 with 5.6% body fat. I have a very intense workout regiment (lifting & cardio) that works for me. I guess I always just find myself asking, “will this extra 3,4, or 5lbs of muscle really be worth it.”

Any tips? Me & you can could take Kobe any day!

As always, great stuff.

Abir August 11, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Hi Rusty
Long term lurker, first time poster. Really enjoy your posts. I have a quick question. While I do believe in the lean body look, and have been working towards that, I have been following a body builder’s split with 2 body parts worked out on alternate days interspersed with cardio and abs on the even days. While I have managed to shed quite a bit of muscle mass using HIIT, I intend to start strength training from next week, in order to build up on my strength and get more definition. Could you please write me up a schedule that I can follow? I am male, 5″6, 143 lbs, abt 9% body fat. I would need to do HIIT on days that I don’t lift weights because I get tired otherwise.

Thank you, you are awesome!

Rahim August 11, 2009 at 9:44 pm

I agree with you, nothing is guaranteed. All we can do is just eat right and exercise. I’ve seen guys who were “skinny fat guys” and they had health problems (mostly heart related) because while they weren’t overeating, they were eating all the wrong things at all the wrong times which ended up giving them “overweight” symptoms. Got to be more careful!

Hassan August 14, 2009 at 8:13 pm

hey rusty…was wondering if you read my comment…i cant seem to find where i posted it

Terry August 19, 2009 at 9:12 am

Norbi, I’m a bit late getting back to finish reading this. Yes, I’ve heard of the movie and it’s on my Netflix list. Sounds frightening but good. Thanks.

HGH Talk October 3, 2009 at 6:15 am

Our main aim is to live for as long as possible and as healthily as is possible. I like older people (many of my friends are much older than me) who know how to laugh and have fun. The emphasis should be on living a life of quality, and I would not trade that for a hundred years of bad health!

Trina October 10, 2009 at 12:35 am

I totally agree with this post. I am obese according to my BMI and trust me, it is NOT a good place to be obviously! I have lost 40 pounds but I kick myself for even letting myself get this big in the first place! You don’t see too many fat old people walking around so I have to get it together before it’s too late. I have youth and time on my side so there’s no excuses.
BTW My celebrity was Queen Latifah

Laurie January 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm

My mother retired at 60, has been obese most of her adult life. Dad smoked until 5 years ago, he is 63. Both seem at least 10 years older. As for myself, I plan on still feeling like my current age of 43 at 60, and STILL scuba diving. I am working on losing 35 pounds for the last time. I am one of those “little bit overweight people” 6 pounds above 150, the highest healthy weight for my range as a 5’5″ woman. Great article!

Kidafi Byer February 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm

My celebrity match is Michael Jordan. BMI of 25…I feel pretty good about that. I can identify with this topic personally because I have loved ones who just don’t get it. It’s a sense of frustration but there is nothing I can do but simply life my life as best as I can and hopefully it may be contagous.
I believe people must be ready on some level to deal with the emotional issue related to the change.

Amanda November 3, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I live in Los Angeles, where fitness is a priority to everyone, but I just don’t have the time to put in the effort I’d like. Everyone says that yoga is great to not only deal with your stress but to get in a good workout. I didn’t believe it, but after doing some searching, I found on youtube a guy named Rich Tola, who does yoga in increments of 15 minutes and has made it so it can be done anywhere. You should check it out, it also supports donations to victims of abuse.

Neck pain boulder April 20, 2011 at 5:52 am

I think walking was just for people who are not fit enough to do any real exercise. I figured that any activity that 99% of the population can easily do, just can’t be tough enough to make a real difference in health.

Christopher February 18, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Um, just what exactly is your concept of overweight? A man without a six pack? A woman who doesn’t have a contemporary ideal bikini body? So by your standards, Eric Bana is overweight because he doesn’t have a sixpack, and Lizzie Miller is overweight because she doesn’t have the typical ectomorphic bikini body that appears so often in the contemporary Western media? I have read your blog before on occasion and I came across your article today, and it pains me to see the degree of hypocrisy that forms the basis of your blog. You call the bodybuilding look a “forced look”, yet also say that guys should strive for as low a body fat as possible to get the “fitness model body” that women love. So for an endomorphic man, how is the single-digit body fat look not a “forced look”? And how is your chicken breast and broccoli diet anything short of an eating disorder? To say a guy with a six pack has a better body than a guy without is like saying Kate Moss has a better body than Mae West, when in fact that is not a valid basis for comparison. Neither is “better” than the other. They are simply “different”, that is all. It’s like comparing apples to oranges, so to speak. A century ago, it was fashionable for white people to think of black people as “lazy, thriving n*ggers”. Today, it is fashionable for naturally thin people to think of overweight people as “lazy, unhealthy slobs”. It’s really a primitive caveman mentality when you think about it. The people who judge other people based on their weight haven’t taken Sheldon’s theory of physical somatotypes into account, nor have they factored in thyroid issues. They simply say, “Oh, thin people are thin because they’re doing it the “right way”; they exercise and don’t overeat! Fat people are fat because they are doing it the “wrong way”; they overeat and don’t exercise. If they did it the “right way”, they’d be just as lean and healthy!” Really? Then why did my parents’ friend die of a heart attack at around 40 despite being a very thin man? Why is my 86 year-old grandfather still alive and well despite being a little overweight? You say you’re different from the other fitness gurus, but I find it hard to believe that, especially when you’re espousing such a narrow-minded body ideal to people. Rather than pressure people to be something that may not be healthy for them in the long run, why not encourage people to be the best they can be instead? I hope you don’t have a daughter; what a fantastic role model she’d have, especially when girls these days already suffer from such low self esteem because of people like you!

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