There is no judgment here…Ed and I did it. Our cat Sumo-too (may he rest in peace) was fat…super fat! And diabetic! And..that’s probably what stimulated his cancer and caused his ultimate death at the ripe age of 16 human years or about 80 cat years!
Using a dog is our way of circumventing the social and political hoopla of being able to say the “F-word” – Fat. Both of us are realists, and our success has come from facing issues head-on, not hiding behind the fear of hurting someone’s feelings in exchange for addressing issues that could harm their health either now or in the long run. Full disclosure – (Sam here) I am currently fat….fat, defined as being above my ideal body weight. And guys, COME ON….stop with the “Oh you look fine”. I’m pretty objective. I can measure my own body composition with spot-on accuracy and have historical data to show that I’m upwards of 18+% body fat. In my opinion, while there are no industry-wide accepted bodyfat norms for healthy adults that take into account a level of body fat that could be dangerous and lead to inflammation and disease, if essential body fat for men/women is 3%/12%, respectively, then anything above that is on the table for discussion. Unfortunately because of societal pressure for inclusion, healthcare practitioners, all the way down to us lowly health coaches, shy away from conversations about excess body fat if the person hasn’t yet achieved the label “obese”. Come on guys! Even my oncologist and surgeon wouldn’t confront me with it until I inquired…yes, fat cells above a certain level of essential need can be (and most are) inflammatory and lead to things like…yes finally…we’re coming to the topic: increasing the symptoms of arthritis, like pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, swelling and feelings of weakness. Yes. All of them! And added body weight contributes to the symptoms of lower extremity arthritis just by the very nature of “carrying excess weight”. I ran with a 25# sandbag the other day and the next day my knees ached and the bottoms of my feet were sore. LIGHTBULB!
So, if we do confront the squishy handful of flab we’re carrying around our middle (as I grab my
‘middle” around my belly button with both hands and find a handful of squishy stuff that IS NOT MUSCLE) what should we do?
Well, I will tell you as I look into the interwebs for the most generic, Google-ish answers (not even Pub Med), they all sing the same song..fat is inflammatory. Google gives us lists of foods that I will guarantee most of you do not solely live on…it looks like this:
Seriously, you tell me: can you honestly say your diet is devoid of crackers, bread (made by someone other than you), cookies, chocolate, alcohol, “healthy keto-crap” you found in the middle aisle at Costco, and other processed foods? This list is 100% whole…and no, we’re not even going to talk about quality yet…because if you replaced your crap diets with these things and it wasn’t even organic or purchased from Whole-paycheck or Spouts, you would be reducing inflammation by giving your body the type of nourishment that it KNOWS how to process. Not sure our DNA understands how to digest and assimilate the following: (Google again)
and even “Keto stuff” (eye-roll)
While the brown list above “seems” healthy-ish…kinda..maybe?…sorry, not really. A bunch of isolated elements that have been chemically stripped from a whole food. I’ll take some nuts and avocados, thank you.
Yes, I’m being judgey…some people can eat this stuff while maintaining or accomplishing ideal body weight and experiencing ZERO symptoms of arthritis or the many diseases of modern society (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer). If you feel great – have at it. Eat like crap. (Really, don’t, but that was for effect ;).
And finally, YES – overwhelmingly YES we are stoked, inspired, thrilled, and super happy you are training/exercising…a whole 3 hours a week (meaning there are 109 other waking hours that we are not supervising you…that you need to be moving, active, eating well…among other things). You cannot out-train a bad diet. It’s a scientific fact. So while we ARE giving you kudos for training, if you are suffering symptoms of arthritis, or suffering from one of the aforementioned conditions, YOU should be your first line of defense, not a medication or treatment. Once your “house is clean” – your lifestyle has been rid of things that cause discomfort and these conditions…then we feel it’s time to look for additional help.
- Clean up your diet.
- Stay active.
- Get to an ideal body weight…
…meaning do the math: if you carry X pounds of lean body mass, then your total body weight minus lean body mass is body fat. Of 3%/12% body fat (men/women) is essential, how much above that do you feel is acceptable? For me, currently, I’m carrying exactly 25# of excess fat…maybe 7-10 pounds above 15-16% body fat, which I’m going to call my ideal. That’s an excess of two of the 5# fat models we often put up on the check-in desk at the box. Guys…no shaming here…these are facts. What you chose to do with this information is up to you, but we’re telling you, excess body fat is not only extra weight on inflamed arthritic joints, it’s inflammatory and increases the symptoms of arthritis (among other things).
You either have leverage on yourself to make changes or you don’t.
- If you do, we’ll help – we’ll confer – we’ll support – and we’ll help motivate you because we want you to feel better and live a healthy, pain-free life.
- If you don’t, then do us a favor: stop complaining your joints hurt when you try to squat or lunge; that you’re stiff when you wake up, and cool the sad face when you have to scale jump rope down to slow toe ups because it hurts to jump.
If you try, we’ll try. But if you’re not going to try – not really going to dig into what matters – please don’t take up our time looking for a solution before you address the elephant in the room. Or as Ed says: put up or shut up.
Should I close with “Love you guys!”? YOU BETCHA! Tough love coming at ya.