We’re now in that strange time of year at the beach, Spring Break mixed with locals. This part of North Carolina isn’t a big Spring Break spot – we’re a family beach. There are no big hotels, there are no big bars. What we have is row after row of single family houses and some condos. Our beach is still empty this time of year – mostly local older shell hunters in their jeans and sweatshirts. Now we’re seeing the occasional houseful of college age kids having fun trying to keep warm on the beach in their bathing suits and winter pasty white skin. Seeing these unusual creatures on the beach, plus a short discussion about leanness on Facebook led me to write this post.
I remember being in college. I remember all the bad things we ate and drank. I also remember how skinny we all were back then. I was a Math & Computer Science major…. you know the people who sit in front of video games and other flickering screens for hours on end. We were still slender. Most of the guys I went to school with didn’t have a 6 pack, but at least they didn’t have a thick cushion of fat on their bellies. As for me – people still call me thin (which I disagree with, but more on that later) now – but back then I weighed a good 20lbs less than I do today. There was nothing to me, neither muscle nor fat. I was skinny. I don’t consider that term to be complimentary.
What I’m seeing today is light years away from what I saw in 1986. College students have changed a lot in under 30 years. Now it is surprising to see someone who is slender or fit. Even most “thin” kids have a good layer of fat on them. They are the size of the folks that we considered “chubby” back when I was in school. The heavier kids now have rolls of fat. When you put on a bathing suit, the beach does not lie. There’s a lot more to those puffy faces than “baby fat”. Most young men have beer bellies fit for 40 year olds, and double chins. Young women have saddle bags, paunches and serious muffin tops. They all look like if you’d poke them with a finger that it would sink right in – a couple of knuckles deep in many instances. What gives? With all of this talk about obesity in America, you would think that the the more educated contingent of our young folks would at least make an attempt at being healthy and fit.
I’ll say it again. What gives?
I keep hearing that skinny is the new rich. Maybe it really is that elusive to most people. I’d argue that most people shouldn’t be striving for skinny or even thin. One of the best quotes that I’ve heard (I wish I could remember the source) is that skinny people look good in clothes, lean people look good in bathing suits (ok it was naked). I have to agree.
Lean DOES NOT equal thin. Thin is what you see in Paris and in a lot of other major cities around the globe where being thin is part of being fashionable. Thin is what you see on fashion runways. Thin is typically what you get when you do a lot of endurance athletics. Think about what your average marathon runner looks like. Some of those people have a surprising amount of fat on them percentage wise. To get thin, you need to exercise a LOT more and/or eat a lot less. You can get skinny on a diet of Twinkies if you don’t eat a lot of them. That experiment has already been done. See the Twinkie Diet Professor. To get lean, you need to eat an appropriate amount of calories for the weight you want to maintain, and you also need to eat “clean”. Lots of veggies, some fruits, plus fatty fish and lean grass fed meats.
Lean can be thin – but that depends entirely on your body type. Lean also can be considered grossly overweight if you’re using the BMI chart and you have a stocky build and you are a muscular person.
As for me, give me muscles. I want Michele Obama arms and a sprinter’s legs. I’d rather be lean than thin. I definitely don’t want to be considered skinny again. And… I definitely don’t want to be soft.