Elizabeth's Blog: Skinny vs Healthy

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - This week I did a story entitled, "Skinny by summer." In it, I took a look at this season's fad diets and health fitness trends in order to help our viewers get started on that beach body.

Folks, I have a confession to make. I hate the term, "skinny." Skinny- like time, perspective and humor- is relative.  Skinny to the fashion industry is a size 00.  Skinny to me, is a size 6.

I was recently reading an article about a model who quit the business for religious reasons.  In it, the model talks about the pressure to be thin.  She said at one point her agent bluntly told her she wasn't getting job offers because she looked "like a fat cow."  At the time, the 5'10" model said she was 115 pounds.  After that comment, she restricted an already limited diet and dropped down to a shocking 108 pounds.

Since quitting the business she says she has put some weight back on.  She says she's currently at 124 pounds, but that her ideal weight would be 125.  (By the way, according to nutritional standards the actual ideal weight for a woman measuring 5'10" is 156 pounds, and no lower than 139. But, kudos for her for trying to make a healthy change for her body. Find your ideal weight and BMI here. )

Let's face it. As a society, our image of health is a little warped.

Some personal background, I am definitely not a stick figure.   I've never been a stick figure, and I never will be.  More importantly, I don't want to be.

But, I remember in grade school when a girl made fun of my legs because they looked "weird."  Afterwards, my mother lovingly explained to me that what the girl called weird, was actually muscle definition I'd developed doing ballet.  (And partly inherited from genetics.  Thanks, Dad.) She told me that was something to be proud of.

I also remember that feeling as an early teen when the girls around me were wearing much smaller sized cloths than the ones I would grab.  That's when my sisters assured me that I was a beautiful young girl, and that the number on my jeans would never change that.

Those are lessons I took to heart growing up, although any girl knows it's not always easy to have confidence when the world is telling you beauty is two sizes smaller.

One of my more enlightening moments about health, fitness and weight came after working with a personal trainer as an adult.  For about a year, I trained for an hour a day, six days a week.  My trainer was extremely knowledgeable about the human body and nutrition.

During that time, I lost about 15 pounds to put me more in line with the healthy weight range for my height.  I also developed muscle tone where I had no idea where muscles existed.   I started running, and found that I actually enjoyed it.  But, the exercise was only half of it.

My trainer taught me about nutrition.  For the first time I realized that food really is fuel and that you literally are what you eat.  As I began to change my diet to include more veggies and less fat, I noticed how my body functioned better and more efficiently when I ate healthy food.

"We don't live to eat, we eat to live. We don't really need that cake, but we really need to keep moving," said local fitness expert Jennifer Mayers.

Registered dietician Melissa Martin agreed. She told me the fastest way to get skinny is to make your health a priority.

"I think what is more effective is to find something that is going to make you confident and comfortable with your body instead of an immediate quick fix," said Martin.

While I no longer train six days a week, I still try to maintain a regular exercise schedule and the healthy eating habits I picked up.  That's not to say that I don't indulge in the sweets and treats that come through the newsroom, but now I look at food in terms of the benefits or damages it could do to my body instead of just how good it will taste.

The proof is in the pudding, or in this case blood.  My doctor tells me my cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart rate are excellent, greatly lowering my risk for the heart disease and stroke that commonly occur in my family.  To me, that alone makes healthy living worth it.

So, I don't want to be skinny by summer. I want to be healthy all summer and beyond.  Here's to a happy and healthy summer!

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