Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Little Fat is a Good Thing

I had my annual physical a little over a month ago. My doc, Gary Bean, has been my physician for over 25 years. He’s great! He has a sense of humor about what he does but he can also get right to the point.

For about two decades I could be sure that one of the first things he’d talk about was that I needed to lose weight. One year he poked me in the stomach and said, “If you’d go ahead and birth that baby we can take you off cholesterol and blood pressure meds.”

So, you can imagine my surprise a few years ago when he told me to stop worrying about my weight. He said, “I want you to start worrying about your height. Your weights fine, it’s just that you need to be six-foot-three.”


We often talk about losing fat. In fact, in business we talk about cutting the fat and running lean. The new, hot phrase in entrepreneurship is lean start-up.

In the current issue of The Red Bulletin, the magazine produced by Red Bull energy drinks, there’s a great article by Jeff Wise, a journalist and author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger.

Wise points out, “We talk about ‘cutting the fat’ out of a business, but in biology, fat is the energy store that protects an organism against life’s uncertainties. Maximizing efficiency is a good strategy only in an environment that is totally predictable.”

Last night a good friend told me about her schedule yesterday. She had back-to-back-to-back meetings. I heard the same thing from a business exec on a Success Magazine CD I was listening to. That sort of day may lead to getting a lot done, but if you have one little glitch—a meeting runs too long—the rest of your schedule falls apart. Think airline arrivals/departures.

A little fat, buffer time, a little room to breathe is a good thing. It allows you to debrief yourself on the previous meeting, day or week. Reenergize, reboot and head into the next meeting, day or week ready to go.

Wise continued, “Human beings, it turns out, are not designed to be efficient. Over the past few million years our ancestors had to endure a wide variety of conditions, and being too focused on one challenge could leave them fatally exposed to another.”

My interpretation? Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself some breathing room. The busyness that afflicts so many Americans is not a good thing and a little fat in your life in the way of time buffers is a good thing.

Now, if I can just convince Dr. Bean that hefty is a good thing.

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