Friday, March 28, 2008

Loosing Weight vs. Getting In Shape

I've found over the last few days as I've been talking with some people at work about my new fitness goals that there is a large misunderstanding in the world about how to loose weight. Every time the conversation would come up with someone new, one of the first things they would ask would be something related to exercise - what gym did I join? was I running? did I buy a workout video? When I tell them I'm not doing any of that, they just look as me like I'm some sort of weirdo. I can almost here their thoughts: What is he doing? Doesn't he know you can't loose weight unless you exercise?

Well folks, it's time to confess - I'm not exercising. At least not planned exercise - I'll go walk at work from one shop to another and I'll play with Sammie, but not a scheduled exercise plan. So, how have I lost weight? Go down to my first posts - it's all about balancing the amount of energy that comes in with the energy that comes out and the energy that is stored. That's it.

So, what are the benefits to loosing weight this way?
  • No exercise which means I don't have to fail at one more thing and beat myself up about it.
  • I don't have to add one more thing to my schedule.
  • I'm not sore.
  • Weight seems to magically disappear - every day I'm lighter.
  • No need to spend money on equipment
  • I learn better control over how to eat and deal with cravings.
  • It works every time.
What's the disadvantage?
  • One simple statement - I'm NOT in shape!
So, I'm still just as likely to have heart difficulties cause I'm not doing anything to strengthen my heart. If I'm not careful, the body will try to burn muscle instead of fat because it's easier to process and I'll become even less fit. If I stop eating right, the weight will start reappearing just as magically. I'm not fit, I'm just getting lighter in weight.

These two ideas are completely separate. If weight was a sign of fitness, then NFL linebackers wouldn't be able to play the game for more than a few minutes and people like super skinny models would run marathons. Get a clue - neither of those occur because weight is not an indication of fitness. It may indicate other things, but does not tell you anything about a person's fitness least not directly.

Being in shape is about being able to perform certain physical tasks - running a mile in under 12 minutes, doing a certain number of push-ups/pull-ups, being able to lift objects of a certain weight, etc. These are the marks of fitness. These are things that NFL players can do, even thought they weight 280 lbs or more.

Right now, my goals are strictly about loosing weight. Why? Because when I start to exercise again, I don't want to tear my joints apart. I want to get fit by running and lifting weights - high impact kinds of things that really can hurt your body if you're not careful. If I only weight 190 lbs when I start to run again, it will be much less stressful on my heart and my knees. That's the only reason why I'm doing things this way.

If you do the research, you'll find that weight loss goals are more easily met and kept when you have a fitness routine as well, but IT IS NOT REQUIRED to loose weight. The extra muscle you get from working out makes you less susceptible to sudden weight gains because it needs more energy to work, so it gobbles up extra calories much more easily.

Learning how to loose weight by counting calories is essential in my opinion because it's the only way you can be guaranteed to loose weight. To loose weight you have to learn that balance - if you never learn how to do that, you'll never loose weight. You might be able to do a lot of fit things, but you'll weight a lot more than you should. Just because NFL players can run a lot when they weigh so much doesn't mean they should. That's why almost all profession sports players are retiring in their early to mid 30s - they've worn their bodies out by moving a large body at high speed and impact, whereas career marathon runners can run into their mid 60s or better.

So, hopefully that helps clear up a little misunderstanding. My fitness goals are for the next six months - right now, during these first six months, all I want to do is loose weight.

Happy Friday and Happy Healthy!

EDIT: Ha! See, I'm not the only one who says it. Check out this article on Yahoo! from Debbie Rocker, Keep it Simple.

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