Weight loss is top on our agendas for many reasons. Right at the top of the list are 2 stand out reasons - celebrities and health advice. Celebrities make us want to be thin either consciously or subconsciously. We are exposed daily to skinny celebs getting praise and being touted as beautiful while those that have a bit more meat on their bones are mocked for being overweight or fat. Couple this with the inherent desire of most people to fit in and follow the trends then there's a powerful motivator to be skinny right there. Add this to the government health advice that focuses on weight as a main target / way to measure your overall health and things can become a little skewed. Through no fault of our own we believe that losing weight is key.
What would you say if I told you that people that sit within the 'overweight' category when you look at the governments way of measuring weight health using weight, BMI, can actually have a lower incidence of death that people in the normal range. Interesting hey! You would've thought that being even slightly overweight would be highly damaging to health. Well, it's just not the case.
One reason for this is the actual measurements we use, such as BMI, have a few floors. They're designed to measure the health of a population (millions of people at once) and don't provide a great measure for an individual. More worryingly though, these figures and the ideal ranges have been manipulated and changed at certain points throughout time with scientific evidence that's dubious at best. The ideal weight range of BMI actually used to be higher than today. When it was dropped it immediately put huge numbers of people into the overweight category when they didn't necessarily have any negative health effects of being their current weight. If there's no negative effects then what's wrong with being that weight?
So, the numbers we use to define whether we're overweight or not might not be quite so accurate a measure of health and fitness as we get told or initially thought. Is there another reason to not be obsessed with weight? In our experience attempting to lose weight is stressful. It's stressful either on your mind, body or both. As we've said before, stress is bad! And if we now know that weight isn't a perfect measure for health then why worry about it quite so much? Why not focus on something else other than weight to measure your health and fitness? Why not focus on a few different things such as:
- perceived energy levels
- propensity to get sick
- body fat percentage
- strength and endurance
- propensity to get injuries
- stress levels
- perceived happiness
- how good is your skin
- how well do you sleep
- do you get aches and pains
Any one of these measures is a better indicator to your health and fitness than weight. When you add a few of them together then you have a few good measures that are into account more than just your weight. By focusing on these different areas you get a better, more holistic view of how healthy your body is. You won't get hung up on numbers that don't directly have a massive influence on health and you're able to see progress in more than one area - good for motivation!
So next time you set yourself a diet plan or a new exercise regime why not try and improve your health and fitness by measuring a few of these areas instead of trying to lose weight! We would be willing to bet you enjoy your workouts more and get better results. We'd also be willing to bet that you'll actually lose weight as a side effect, without even worrying about it (that is so long as your body needs to lose weight, which lots of us don't).
Try it and see how you feel. Weight is not the be all and end all of health and fitness!!!