Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weight Loss v.s. Athletic Goals

I think the girl on the left is way hotter. Don't you?

When we decide to get healthy and make the step toward setting goals, its natural to want to set a number for the goal we went to achieve, because its tangible. Mostly with women its the number on the scale. And I am going to make the argument its not that number we should try to reach, but instead a time or distance or a number of reps in order to reach a healthy goal.

In terms of losing weight science relies on thinking in numbers.
1 lb = 3500 calories
Therefore if you want to loose 1 lb a week then you either have to eat 500 less calories a day, or burn 500 calories a day.
This way of thinking to getting healthy can be troublesome because it leads people to be obsessive about numbers in what they eat, and track their progress according to what they weigh. In my opinion, it doesn't lead to a healthy mind, because you can't establish a lifestyle based on obsessive counting.

Over the last 5 years I have become convinced that once our bodies reach a healthy size limit, it wants to stick there. I feel that our body knows that its supposed to have so much space it consumes in the world and our jeans. I have come to this understanding through several of my own body transformations over the past 5 years, starting at age 17. Every year since 7th grade I would go up in a jean size (to my devastation) until I reached my senior year in high school, and from then on have always been a size 8. Since, then I have fluctuated in the number on the scale from 160-143, but always remained the same size.

A couple of years ago, after going through several personal changes in my life I decided if I wanted to feel amazing about myself in order to feel better in life that I should weigh what I did at age 16, 135. I figured I was only 19 and getting down to that weight would also put me back in the desirable size 6 jeans. I began cutting portions on foods, only eating a few carbs, and living off oatmeal, yogurt, fruits, and veggies. At the same time I started running at least 6 miles and day, with super light strength exercises, at least 6 times a week. And yes, over the course of three months I lost around 10lbs, I was getting compliments on how great I looked. But I felt miserable, I was constantly hungry, my stomach was always churning. And worst part was, I was still 140 lbs and still a size 8 jean. All this time spent at the gym and starving, just to feel deprived. I finally reached a threshold where I couldn't take the self abuse any longer and started responding to my body's needs. I began eating according to the energy I expended and started to feel healthy again. During this time, I lost most of my muscle mass from only doing endurance cardio and not eating a substantial amount of protein.

After that experience I realize that its more important to feel good about what my body can do, and not what it looks like.

For most people, enjoying life is about being able to do go outside and do activities. I mean deep down we are genetically wired to be moving around whether it was running, hiking, or even hunting at some point. In order to be active in life its important to be healthy and strong.

So when setting goals, its more beneficial to create them based off what kind of athletic feats you want to achieve. Whether its running so many miles, swimming for so long, or being able to curl so much weight. Because then when you apply what you are working for in exercise to real world activities, you can reach great heights. And I literally mean heights, like Half Dome at Yosemite or up San Francisco's Hayes hill on your bike. Being able to accomplish real life activities is way more rewarding than a number on a scale. The wonderful part of working towards athletic goals is that loosing fat tends to follow.

So screw what Kate Moss says about "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," because I could kick her bony ass! I bet she can't even hike a mountain or ride a bike longer than 30 mins, because she barely has any muscle to support her.

I say "Nothing is as good as being strong feels."
(Okay, little corny, but you get, right?)

Furthermore, this post gives advice on how to decide when you feel happy at your weight.

1 comment:

  1. Being strong DOES feel good, and that saying sure beats the "skinny" version. I hate that attitude. Why would being skinny feel good? On the other hand, being strong feels empowering, makes you feel like you can stand up for yourself both physically and otherwise. I love it. :)