It may seem intuitive that exercising more and eating better will naturally result in weight loss. This generally is true, but with a major caveat. Not everyone will lose weight and it is virtually impossible to tell how much any one person will lose. Most exercise programmes and typical diets result in a weight loss of not more than 3 to 5kg (32); the average “overweight” adult wants to lose 10 to 15 kg! This discrepancy between what people want and what exercise and healthy eating are able to deliver highlights the fundamental problem with using weight loss or reductions in body fat to judge the success of an exercise programme or nutrition plan.

Exercise and healthy eating should not be viewed merely as means to an end (weight loss), but rather as having their own intrinsic value. If someone quits an exercise programme out of failure to reach a particular weight loss (or reduced body fat) goal, then all the benefits of the exercise are lost as well. And far too many people who start exercise programmes don’t stay with them. Yo-yo ,fitness is becoming as common as yo-yo dieting.

In developing countries today lakhs of men and women (and boys and girls) stigmatised as “too fat” are engaged in a perpetual war with their bodies. Isn’t it about time we called a truce? Let’s face biological reality. Some people are naturally meant to be thin, some naturally meant to be fat. Exercise and diet can modify our genetic destiny only so much.

The human body is not an infinitely malleable mass of calories that can be burned down to any shape and size desired. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all be as metabolically fitas our lifestyle will allow. In terms of health and longevity, the scientific evidence is abundantly clear: it is far more important to be fit than it is to be thin. Contrary to prevailing dogma, the road to a fitter and healthier body is not so narrow after all.

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