How to Get Rid of Thunder Thighs

I appreciate the insightful and important things your muffin top has to say to me,  but my thunder thighs still think they’re fat.

I’m overweight (sometimes).

On a BMI scale, I fluctuate in and out of the dreaded “overweight” category. While I acknowledge that the BMI scale has its flaws, it was designed to be a quick approximation of weight to height; it is not designed to be a scientific test. Sometimes I tell myself I am super muscular and the scale doesn’t apply to me, but it’s actually not true (I also fall into the normal to overweight range using a fat measurement test, though I have yet to use Gettysburg’s awesome Bod Pod!).

So, yes, the BMI scale is right. But so what if I’m overweight? Well, statistics and studies show that those who are overweight or obese have an increased risk for health complications, including heart disease, type two diabetes, and some forms of arthritis. According to research, people as young as 21 can show signs of heart disease and it’s generally linked to obesity.

But what is the concrete definition of overweight or obese?

A woman of average height (5’ 4”) and normal BMI would weigh between 108 and 145 pounds. This contradicts the CDC’s calculation of average (mean) measurements in the United States.  This same woman, if considered to be a normal weight in our society, would actually weigh 165 pounds.  Our national average is significantly heavier than the “normal” BMI range, but I don’t think this means that individuals have a right to discard this scale, accusing it of being outdated and inaccurate. In fact, only 37% of overweight kids and young adults are told they are overweight by medical professional. Don’t you think that in a society where about 1/3 of the population is overweight or obese, the first step would be to let someone know that being in that category puts them at risk for many health problems?

Because weight and value are frequently tied together, people tend to shy away from acknowledging someone’s weight issues because it is thought to undermine their value as an individual. We don’t want to feel bad about ourselves, or hurt others, so we tell everyone that they should be happy with their weight, transitively saying that we value them just the way they are. But, we simply cannot ignore the health problems that arise from being overweight. Health is a priority to me, so stop telling me that it doesn’t matter. Because I realize that WEIGHT≠VALUE, I don’t need to accept that my body is perfect just the way it is.

So, just let me be unhappy with my weight.  

I treat many things about myself, including my weight, like I treat my family. I love my family—they are an integral part of who I am, are incredibly supportive, and each member has made sacrifices for one another, but however much love and appreciation I have, I can still acknowledge faults and where there is room for improvement. I know I can eat healthier, strive to eat vegetables that give me steady energy throughout the day, and train harder. I’m not striving to fit into 00 jeans or to look like Barbie (if those are within your reach, I mean no disrespect).

I’m fighting for a body that will take me to the roof first when I’m running up a stairwell away from zombies. The food I chose nourished my body well, my bone to muscle to fat ratio allowed me to sprint up with maximum speed, without excess weight weighing me down; and my workouts trained my heart and lungs to pump oxygen efficiently throughout my body. But I’m also fighting against my own human nature. I’m fighting to resist the readily available sweets and fats in proportions perfected in a lab to maximize my addiction to these substances. I’m fighting to deal with stress without needing foods to make me believe in myself. I’m trying to make conscious choices about what I want to put in my body and take a stance against the bombardment of images of perceived happiness that comes from eating gluttonously, rather than simply enjoying food as tasty nourishment to my body. Respect me. Respect me not by saying that I should be happy the way I am, or by saying don’t worry, Helena, overweight people are WAY fatter than you. Respect my choice to aspire to be a healthier Helena.

Helena Yang ’14


Expert Panel on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight in Adults (1998) Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: executive summary American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68(4), 899-917  

 Berenson, G S , Srinivasan, S R , Bao, W , et al (1998) Association between multiple cardiovascular riskfactors and atherosclerosis in children and young adults: the Bogalusa Heart Study New England Journal ofMedicine, 338(23), 1650-6