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What does it mean to 'lose weight'?

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What does it mean to 'lose weight'?

Well, there is a simple question. What does losing weight mean to you?

You weigh less? Perhaps.

You look thinner. Indeed.

You feel more confident. yes.

You are more healthy. Fo’ sho.

Your wellbeing increases. That’s unexpected!

As you can see from those points losing weight can mean, feel and look very different depending on your perspective.

I’ll start with the obvious first. Losing weight means losing ounces, Ibs, or kg's. For measuring this, the sad step, as I’ve heard it called or rather bathroom scales are used. They are a good indicator that something is going on, that perhaps diet or exercise is having an effect.

Do the numbers fluctuate for you? They do for me, depending on the day, time, meal the night before, amount of sleep etc. that’s why it’s the sad step, it’s often a more painful and disheartening experience than a good one, even when you are dialling in your food, exercising and sleeping.

Why does it vary so much? ‘Weight’ doesn’t give you a complete picture, the only input is your mass and there’s more going on here.

For me weight loss a term that doesn’t focus the endeavour. What we really want is ‘fat loss’, because weight is irrelevant in general (unless you are boxer making weight). There are many people who lose weight, but also lose muscle and water, they become what we pleasantly call ‘skinny fat’.

Well defined muscle mass in women is generally sneered at by the media. Take a look at magazines, catwalks and general health advice. There are plenty of slim role models but not many ‘strong’ women. This changes every 4 years with the Olympics and you see a different body alternative, which is welcome but seen as unattainable.

The athletic build in both sexes is so good because muscle is more desirable that fat but also makes maintaining body composition easier. Muscles mass drives a strong metabolism, regulates body fat, helps the health of your bones and joints and makes you more physically capable and finally slowing down the ageing process in both metabolic and physical function.

What’s the point of being skinny if you develop osteoporosis, can’t lift your kids, support yourself or feel terrible all the time?

Here’s a point worth noting. As you lose fat during exercise and good nutrition you may stay the same weight or get heavier! You are building lean muscle, and muscle is heavier, but will develop a curvy feminine look for women and a strong athletic build for men. Let's also not forget changes to bone density! Yes, strength training will develop the integrity of your bones, a great antidote to the ageing process. Greater bone density means more weight. Also without pairing diet and exercise you weight is greatly influenced by water retention (which can decrease with lower carbs in the diet). Water weight can disappear and appear very quickly so rapid weightless can be due to water loss from the muscles (1gram of Glycogen needs 4 grams of water in order to be stored in the muscles).

What is a better measure of weight loss?

  • The Tape measure - measuring your waist, thighs, hips, stomach, upper arms, chest, etc
  • Body fat Analyser - very accurate but an expensive option
  • Callipers - The best way of analysing fat yourself, but very much subject to your experience in taking measurements
  • How your clothes fit - are they looser?
  • How you feel!!! I know this is more difficult to measure and not really guided by metrics. I recommend before you undertake any wellness programme you take 5 mins to think about how your feel.

We are so influenced to external validation and externally imposed ‘acceptable’ weight and dress size or waist size that we are often disappointed by our achievements.

Take joy in your body, if you are doing something positive about your weight and health then you should take pride in this. Take pride by defining your goals and the results you achieve should be measured in terms of your success towards your goals. Not what a magazine says, or we see on Instagram or other social platforms.

The goals you set need to be important to you, and need to be attainable and you need to set a realistic time frame to achieve them. Working with a personal trainer or a nutritionist can be the first step to putting a system in place to achieve these aims.


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