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Fitness is not Measured in Weight Loss

IYou are what you eatt’s 2016 you’ve looked in the mirror, stepped on the scale and decided that you wish you looked like you did in year’s past and resolved to lose weight. If you did these steps then you have lost the battle and the war before you even wrote your resolution down. The US weight loss industry earned $59.8 Billion in 2014 by selling the illusion of weight loss as being the best choice to a healthy lifestyle. Today $49 million is being spent on weight loss programs in the US. See for yourself http://www.worldometers.info/weight-loss/. 

There are some major flaws in the weight loss industry and it begins with how we define fit and healthy.  We have been lead to believe that if we are a certain height we should weigh x pounds based on BMI calculations or because looking thin means you are healthy. First problem with that assumption is BMI is not based on science as it was created by a mathematician. BMI is a mathematical equation — weight (in pounds) divided by height (in inches) squared, multiplied by 703 — to calculate an individual’s body fat. An adult with a BMI of 30 or higher, for instance, is considered obese. But because BMI is based on body weight rather than body composition, it doesn’t take into account how much of that weight is from muscle, bone or water as opposed to fat.  I wrote in an earlier Blog about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is considered obese by BMI standards http://runtwolive.org/2015/07/determine-your-daily-calorie-needs-to-run-better/   The International Journal on Obesity wrote about the flaws of using BMI to determine if a person is obese or not. http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v32/n3s/full/ijo200887a.html

The time has come to consider being fit and healthy based on true measurements and making adjustments based on those measurements. Determining if a person is healthy begins with understanding body fat percentage and lean body mass. I explained how in the blog post I referenced above how to calculate those numbers.  Next how well you do on a simple fitness test is another indicator of fit and healthy you are. Fitness assessments are normally done with a personal trainer and usually at a gym or other fitness facility. However, you can do a fitness assessment at home and here is website to help you asses your fitness. http://www.topendsports.com/testing/hometest.htm  How well you did on the fitness tests are markers and are encouraging areas to improve your fitness and overall health.

Now you have some real data to determine just how healthy you are and if you are not satisfied with the results, then the good news is that you can improve those numbers through changes to your nutrition and exercise.  I am not talking about diets because they do not work. Diets have been failing the American public for a long time and everyday more people are turning away from diets.  Weight Watchers which is one of the leaders in the diet industry saw 11 consecutive quarters where they lost money before bringing Oprah on board.  Marketwatch published an insightful story on what the weight loss industry doesn’t tell you about losing weight. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-the-weight-loss-industry-wont-tell-you-2014-01-10

The key to gaining a healthier body starts with nutrition. Your food choices and what you consume daily is the foundation of your fitness. To gain a healthy body you have to eat healthy. Again this is not about dieting, eliminating a food group or becoming vegan, paelo etc. The simple solution is to eat as much fresh foods and little to none processed foods. BTW processed foods labeled as “low fat” or “low calorie” do more harm to weight loss than traditional foods.  Since you now know your lean body mass you can calculate your daily calorie needs and from there you have an accurate picture of how many calories to eliminate to reduce your body fat percentage.

Add regular exercise and strength training to build your muscles and you will see changes in your body.  The more muscle mass you gain the more calories you burn and fat cells you shrink. Add getting enough sleep and rest so the body can repair and get stronger and you have achieved a healthier, stronger version of yourself.  This new version of you may not be as thin as you desired but this version will be stronger, healthier and more resistant to preventable diseases than a body that was just focused on dieting and eating less to look skinny.

Here’s to Healthier, Stronger New You in 2016.

Stephen Jackson

I’m using my passion for running and keeping healthy to inspire and encourage other Black Men & Women to use distance running, jogging or walking as a way to stay healthy, get healthy and reverse the high number of preventable diseases that run in our communities.

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