Today I tackle a heavy subject: weight. What is it and do you want to lose it?
Weight is a scientific term defined as the force of gravity on an object and is calculated as mass times the acceleration of gravity. [w = mg] In regular speak, weight is your size (mass) multiplied by how much gravity is pulling on you. So what you weigh on Earth would be different than what you'd weigh on the moon since the moon has less gravity than Earth. And in space you'd be weightless. Imagine that--no matter what your mass, you would weigh absolutely nothing in outer space.
In terms of health and fitness, we tend to be obsessed with our body weight. Some of us want to lose it, some of us want to gain it and some of us just ignore it. But do you really want to lose weight?
In a nutshell, no. And here's why.
The more you weigh, the more calories you burn.
I can hear some of you protesting: "But my clothes are too tight, I have love handles, my thighs are too large, my butt jiggles, I need to lose weight."
In these instances, what you're really wanting to lose is body fat. Because your weight, or more accurately, your body mass, is comprised of muscle and organ tissue, skin and bones, blood and other fluids, and fat.
A certain amount of body fat is needed for good health. Men need at least 2-5% of their bodies to be composed of fat with up to 24% being acceptable. Women need a body composition of at least 10% fat with up to 31% fat being acceptable. Anything more than that is considered obesity.
Muscle tissue, on the other hand, is metabolically active and burns calories. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even at rest...even while you're sleeping! Muscle is more compact than fat. A pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat which is why if you gain muscle tissue and burn off fat, your net weight/mass might not change, but your clothes will fit better, your measurements may decrease, and your metabolism will increase. And this is a good thing.
Another type of weight you want to be careful about losing is fluid weight. If you weigh yourself before an exercise session, workout and sweat vigorously, and then weigh again right after, what you've lost on the scale is not body fat but fluid. And you need to regain that weight by drinking water to prevent dehydration. The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking at least 8 ounces of water before exercise, 8-16 ounces during exercise, and at least another 8 ounces after exercise. That's almost a quart of water.
So to summarize:
Weight/mass = body fat, muscle and other lean tissues, fluid.
Muscle mass = maintain/build this
Fluid = replenish fluids lost via exercise; drink 8-10 glasses of water daily and eat plenty of vegetables and fruits that contain water. Go easy on the salt which causes the kind of water retention you don't want. Remember, your body is 98% water. Fluid intake is vital to good health and proper body functioning.
Lean body tissue = eat a healthy, balanced diet so that your body doesn't break down and consume your organ tissue for nutrients. If you're not sure what a healthy diet is, check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate
And lastly, I say throw out your scale. Weighing yourself is deceptive because the number on the dial doesn't tell you what % is fat, fluid and lean body tissue. But you know what isn't deceptive? Clothing. Clothes don't lie. Buttons, zippers and belts are brutally honest. When your clothes become tight, you know it's time to make some lifestyle changes. And when you find you can comfortably notch your belt a little tighter or your pants slide on easily, or you can zip up that little dress you've been wanting to wear, then you know you're making good progress in changing your body composition.
So wait on checking your weight. Focus on acting like the person you want to become. When you live like a slim, active person, you'll become a slim, active person.
Lover of dance, Zumba and aquatic fitness. And Wave Webs aqua gloves.