One of the many things that continues to mystify me about American society - and maybe it is not only American society, but Western society in general - is the way we equate "thin" with "fit" and "healthy." I've seen several studies that showed that people who fall into the BMI range currently classified as "overweight" live longer and are healthier than those who fall into the "healthy" range. This, of course, makes me think that what we define as healthy is not really healthy, but rather some sort of beauty aesthetic that has pervaded the medical establishment and convinced us that "thin" is "healthy." I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I've been running a lot to train for a half marathon on June 5. At the start of my training, or maybe even a little before, I successfully used Phase I of the South Beach Diet to drop a few pounds. However, during that phase it took me almost 77 minutes to run seven miles, and I thought I might burst my lungs and that my thigh muscles would rip themselves from my femurs. Thin, but not in great shape.

As I ran more, I discovered that I was getting fatter. Some people suggested that I was gaining weight because I added muscle, although I am sure that I have. Unfortunately, as proven by my jeans not wanting to button around my increasingly rotund belly and wider hips, I am actually getting flabbier. I had a very ugly incident this morning with a shirt that used to fit fine and now is most unattractive as I bulge out of the side slits. I know that the weight is from the ravenous appetite that I developed to feed to running. I try to eat healthy, but it is really hard for me because I am almost always hungry, which inevitably leads to binging on, say, cheesecake after dinner last night. (It would have been a very "Golden Girls" moment if I had three lady friends sharing it with me, but alas I just stuffed it in my face while on the phone.)

Yet I am also far fitter. When I ran 12 miles last Saturday, my average mile was 9 minutes, 40 seconds. I didn't get tired until the 10.5 mile. Part of the reason I could run so well was because I fueled the run with carbs beforehand, had energy supplements during it, and ate a protein bar afterward. So although I burned 1200 calories, I consumed 600 just to accomplish it. Then I binge ate because I was hungry an went to a 12 hour birthday extravaganza that involved enormous quantities of candy (Take 5 is possibly my new favorite candy bar; sorry Mars...) and on my way there I passed a Polish bakery, so of course I had to stop in and buy a paczki (donut, pronounced panchki) or four, but I am getting off the point a little bit.

The point is that I am definitely fatter. I am also definitely fitter. I am insanely proud of how far I've come with this running thing, especially given my asthmatic childhood which involved at least one ER visit each spring and fall when I did strenuous things like, say, sleep. I just wish that my fitness was not buried under so much flab.