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What I Learned As an Overweight Woman

All of my life, I have been overweight or obese according to BMI. Body Mass Index (BMI) is how medical professionals are trained to assess your risk for various chronic illnesses and diseases. It is your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters. A high BMI may indicate high body fat. HOWEVER, this is NOT a diagnostic of body fat or your health. It can be a screening tool (CDC). It can be a tricky thing to interpret to a patient, especially if the person is active and mindful of their eating patterns.

When I was in high school, it was suggested that I would receive more playing time in volleyball if I was not so heavy. Skill did not matter, apparently. When I had serious blood clots at the age of 20, the physician told me that this wouldn’t have happened had I not been so heavy. When in reality, I have a genetic mutation that predisposes me to clots –found that out 10 years later when I experienced more clots. And so on. I imagine this is true for others out there. It happens so much that I tend to state my profession and exercise/eating habits as soon as the medical professional notes my weight. It usually surprises the professionals when my vitals are incredible.

Despite all of that, I have ALWAYS been active. Played outside as a child, played multiple sports in school, started running long distance in college (in addition to intramurals and club sports), and starting strength training as a working adult.

So, what gives? Why do I remain overweight? Do I simply lack self-control? Am I just lazy?

Absolutely not. I intentionally exercise 5-6 times a week, walk daily, and get involved with other fun outside activities as frequently as possible. I eat mindfully. I focus on veggies and fruits, some meat, and quantity/quality of my meals. With an infant, it is challenging to get quality sleep; however, I am aware of it. Prior to pregnancy, I had found and maintained the weight at which my body seemed to be most comfortable. Guess what? It is still in the “overweight” or “obese” range of BMI.

What does this mean? Well, every BODY is different. What is right for YOUR body may not be right for mine. My body may be built for lifting heavy-ass shit and may require more mass. Your body may be built for endurance, and naturally remains leaner. We are not told this as children. If your history is anything like mine, you were told to eat less, do more, as well as asked why you are so heavy. Your food choices were scrutinized. Usually all by well-meaning adults. This taught us to be ashamed of our bodies and our choices…and that we should work ourselves to death to be “skinny” (whatever that means!) and then still not be happy with the way we look. UGH.

This is seriously NUTS. As I continue on this life journey and consider all that I have learned about nutrition, exercise, recovery, etc, I can tell you that you will only be happy with yourself when you stop your negative self-talk and ignore what others think. Instead, focus your attention on what YOU can do – eat mindfully, take an extra walk, go to your 6:00am group exercise class, go to sleep an hour earlier. If you feel unhealthy and lack energy, you may not be at the right weight or fitness level for you. But, if you are feeling good, you might be all right…even if you are not at a certain weight as determined by BMI.

And, above all else, remember: YOUR BODY IS DIFFERENT THAN ANYONE ELSE’S. Just because your BMI is high does not necessarily mean you are too fat. Just because you do not run as fast as another person does not mean you are too fat or out of shape. Just because you cannot lift as much as someone does not mean you are weak. I mean, I am technically obese, and I have run marathons and 50ks and competed in numerous fitness competitions in which I have podiumed. Of course, be MINDFUL of all of this – if you feel you are unhealthy, then let’s talk!

As a new mother to a daughter, this is very important to me. I hear similar stories as mine from others, especially women. It has to stop. When you see my daughter, Zaelin or anyone else’s daughter, refrain from making comments about how she looks. Instead, focus on her abilities and skills – if you would like to compliment her, compliment her on that. Because we are all different, and we do not have to be “pretty” (whatever that means) or “skinny”. Focus on how FIERCE you are and what you are capable of. YOUR BODY IS DIFFERENT THAN ANYONE ELSE’S.

If we all do that and remember our uniqueness, we can build a much happier world. We can also then focus on what really matters – being healthy – whatever that means for YOUR body and mind.


Dr. Ana

Ana Grimh, DPT, BA, CSCS, FMS-1, CF-L2 Trainer Doctor of Physical Therapy, University of Wisconsin - Madison Owner/Mastermind

Align Wellness Services, LLC


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Body Mass Index (BMI). Accessed August 7, 2020:

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