The phrase I hear almost daily as a personal trainer.
“My doctor said I needed to lose 20lbs in 3 months to get healthier”.
An actual sentence I got from one of my clients a few days ago.
Yes, dropping lbs is sometimes a necessary part of getting healthy….. but more often then not improving your health (by health I mean blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, sleep, energy levels, and mood etc) doesn’t come with a large drop in the number on the scale when we are talking about an adult of average lifestyle and health. From my experience, weight loss actually plateaus just as major progress in all those other more important things begins.
We’ve all heard the facts before… muscle weighs more then fat, it’s how you feel and look- not the number. And that’s all true.
My client went on for a few minutes justifying why he thought that the weight loss was the most important factor in his health. Saying he’d dropped a few pounds already in the last few months and was looking forward to losing about 15lbs more, while simultaneously telling me the last time he went through a training program he lost only 5lbs but dropped 3 pant sizes.
He was making my case for me, and finally I stopped him and asked “how much do you think I weigh?”.
He paused for a second, looked me up and down, and said “well I’m not sure, but definitely less then me..”. For reference, I’m a 24y/o female, 5’8″ in an athletic build. He is about my height, 60something male. He weighs in around 140lbs.
So, finally I said.. “I weigh 180lbs”. (this is 100% true). He was sure I was lying. “But you don’t look as though you have that much on you.. you’re not big at all!” And I said, “precisely why the number on the scale is not something I worry about”.
That number on the scale includes our bone mass, muscle mass, water content, and fat levels. That number on the scale is EVERYTHING in us. One can’t look at that one number and thing it determines their health, by any means.
As we change our lifestyle and our fitness levels, muscle replaces fat, our metabolism increases, and our whole system becomes more efficient. Often “losing weight” or “toning” can be achieved in small levels just by adding in 20-30min more movement during the day and drinking more water to help flush the system.
Adding one one hour workout in a day will not do a tonne for the entire system long term, but it can be a great start to kick starting that system into a higher gear. Often starting with one guided session or challenging workout a week is enough to inspire daily changes the rest of the week. I find with most of my clients doing regular weigh ins is actually counter productive, as they get fixated on that number- and when it plateaus, as it always does, they forget to be encouraged by all the other changes they’ve made to their overall health and appearance.
I’ve weighed around 180lbs for majority of my adult life, so far. That being said I’ve worn a range of sizes through that time. 180lbs has looked very different depending on what the rest of my life looks at the time. Things like stress, diet, routine, illnesses, injuries, all played their part… but in the end, the one things I’ve really noticed is that that number didn’t change much even when EVERYTHING else was drastically different. For perspective again, I stayed at 180lbs even after trekking in the Himalayas, living off eggs, and dying for 15 days on my way up to Everest Base Camp 1. If my body can stay at it’s apparent set weight in high altitude training with minimal nutrition and buring 7000++calories a day… I think it’s made it’s point. Weight is the last thing you should worry about when you’re working towards any sort of health goal. Your body will tell you when you’re making progress, but you have to be aware and open enough to observe the little things and not hyper focused on a number in between your feet every day.
Looking for lifestyle change advice? Email me or find us on instagram (integrative_movement).
See you out there!