We all know the expression, “When you assume you make an ASS out of U and ME.” As human beings, we naturally look at each other and make immediately judgments—it’s just the way that we’re wired.

Let’s imagine two, 55-year-old women. The first woman is very thin, has virtually no muscle mass, has elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, has low bone density and poor cardiorespiratory fitness. (She doesn’t exercise.) The second woman is 25 lbs overweight, is muscular, has a perfect lipid profile, low blood pressure, strong bones, and runs 20 miles a week.

Here’s the irony: When we look at the first woman, we naturally ASSUME that she’s healthy.  Likewise, we ASSUME that the “chubby runner” surely can’t be—not with the way she looks. Over the past 17 years I have worked out with a lot of people and I can assure you that being healthy and fit comes in all sizes and shapes.

I’m not saying that being overweight is a good thing. In fact, if you are overweight, losing 5-7% of your body weight can lead to great health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and blood sugar. However, I NEVER want weight loss to be achieved through dieting, since diets don’t work. It can be achieved, though, by making long-lasting lifestyle changes.

Several years ago, I popped into my local hardware store to pick something up right before I was going to teach one of my fitness classes. A lanky, 50-ish year-old man helped me.  Right before I left I jokingly asked, “So, are you going to come to my exercise class now?” He looked me straight in the eye, ran his hands down his body in swooping gesture and said, “Does it LOOK like I need to exercise?” He ASSUMED that because he was thin, exercise wasn’t necessary. This is a very dangerous assumption.

Bottom line: There are plenty of VERY unhealthy, thin people walking around. Don’t obsess over THIN. Instead, do your best to focus on being HEALTHY. That means, try to eat as much food that comes from the ground, move your body as much as possible, get plenty of sleep, reduce processed foods from your diet, lift weights, drink water, stretch, talk to yourself with kindness, find a hobby that makes you happy, learn something new, connect with people, breathe deeply, find your sense of spirituality, read a good book or watch a good documentary. All of these contribute to good health. And whatever you do, don’t assume!

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