Weight by definition is ‘a body’s relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it, giving rise to a downward force; the heaviness of a person or thing’. The combination of society dictating that weight is centred around fat, and the pressures of on social media, it’s no surprise that we’re bordering on obsessed with our weight. We all want that ‘perfect body’ and subsequently assign ourselves a ‘perfect weight’. However, should this be our primary driver to leading a healthy lifestyle?
I decided to write this blog as I have lost count of the amount of conversations I’ve had around weight and frustrations over what the scales are saying. With January and February being difficult months for us all weight wise and with Easter just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to voice some of these opinions.
Over the years I’ve had to drastically change my mindset about my weight. Like everyone, I will always have hang ups about my body, but for the first time ever I’m learning to accept my body for what it is and respect it.
As many of you may be aware, I spent 13 years of my life in competitive athletics, where your weight was vital. When you have one day, one chance, win or lose, you have to ensure that your body is at its absolute peak. That extra kilo made a big difference over those 2 laps (800m) and consequently, I was obsessive over my weight. I weighed myself every morning and would adjust my diet daily to make sure I could stay at my ‘perfect weight’. With minimal nutritional support back then, it’s unsurprising that many of my fellow runners suffered with eating disorders. Admittedly, I got dangerously close to being one of them.
By the time I got to 26 years old, injuries were becoming a common problem and I made the difficult decision to call it a day on competitive running. It was at that point that Greg convinced me that CrossFit was the way forward and admittedly it’s filled a massive void in my life that my running has left.
Within a few months of CrossFit, I noticed that my body shape had started to change and so had my weight. I naturally put muscle on quickly, so it didn’t take long until I started discovering muscles I didn’t know I had. This change in appearance didn’t bother me too much as I was feeling stronger and healthier than ever. What has taken a while is putting the obsession with the scales to bed. My peak running weight (at 20 years old) was 51kg (8st), with a fat percentage of 23-24% and a dress size of 8-10. 13 year later, I’m now weighing in at 61kg (9.5st), with a fat percentage of 23%, muscle mass of 44.1kg, and still wear a size 8-10.
The above is exactly why I tell people not to obsess over what the scales are telling you. What’s more important- a number on the scales (which often vary between scales), or how you feel in and out of your clothes?
The majority of training we do at UNIT 22 is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which is proven to increase muscle mass and make you leaner. By increasing muscle mass, we’re also increasing our metabolic rate, which means that even when you’re not exercising, (you could be sitting on the couch watching TV) you will be burning a greater number of calories.
This ultimately means that by training and eating well, our body composition will change. If we’re losing fat but gaining muscle, we’re likely to be heavier in the long run. For many, this is a difficult concept to get your head around, especially for women who aren’t notoriously concerned about muscle mass.
Muscle mass and fat are however just two variables that contribute to our weight. What many people don’t consider are all the other variables such as hormones, hydration, stress, illness etc. For example, women on average put on 2.27kg (5lbs) leading up to their period due to higher levels of progesterone causing constipation and water retention.
We all have our ‘happy weights’ where we feel our best or have a target weight that we’re working towards, and that can be a great motivator. What isn’t advantageous though, is to obsess over that number and then lose heart when the scales aren’t dropping as quickly as you like. Don’t get into the habit of weighing yourself every day, and if you are doing that, pull back to once every 2 weeks or once a month. Consider all the variables and don’t be hard on yourself. If you know you’ve been disciplined with your diet and training, and you’re feeling better in yourself, it really doesn’t matter what the scales say! Focus on being healthy and happy and the rest will take care of itself.