Once upon a time, I was a couch potato.  My favorite pastimes were TV, Internet, and books.  My active time consisted of cleaning the house and wrangling small children.

But, I was fairly thin.  So, it’s okay to be a couch potato, right?

If you have ever read my “story”, you have seen that one of my motivations for changing from the couch potato I was to the active person that I am is learning about the concept of “skinny fat”.  I was never particularly overweight, but learning about skinny fat was an eye-opener for me, because it made me realize that being a statistically ideal weight was not enough when it came to health concerns.

So, I wanted to write a post about it for those of you who may feel that being active isn’t all that important, if you are a healthy weight.  But the truth is, living an active life is very important for keeping good health as you age.

I have written before about the importance of putting health over weight.  As this Times articles points out, “It should be obvious, but a culture obsessed with weight doesn’t always remember that appearances of health can be skin deep.”  We cannot take our health for granted, regardless of our weight.

So what is skinny fat?  Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, is quoted in the article as explaining , “When you’re eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods, it causes visceral fat storage, and that can lead to all sorts of risk factors of being overweight”.  In other words, skinny fat people may not carry a lot of obvious fat, the kind that makes someone look visibly overweight.  But they are likely to be carrying visceral fat, or deep-down fat that accumulates around the organs.  The problem is that this is by far the most dangerous type of fat.

Dr. Axe explains that visceral fat can actually change the way our bodies operate, and leave us at increased risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, Diabetes, depression, sexual dysfunction, and sleep disorders by increasing inflammation in the body’s tissues.  Scientists are increasingly finding that inflammation is what causes these problems.

So you can see why I would be concerned, especially because I already have a genetic predisposition to Type II Diabetes.  I decided that it was time to pursue better health now, in my 30s, instead of suffering more in my 40s, 50s and on.  I began building healthy habits, and they soon became my norm.

What’s funny is that I don’t weigh any different than before I began running and strength training.  But I now have confidence that my organs are healthier, and I am better prepared for aging healthfully.  So once again, I encourage you to think about finding ways to be more active, and to find enjoyable exercise that you will want to do regularly.  Even if the number on the scale doesn’t seem to be budging, embracing healthy habits will change your body, for the better!