Keeping track of your health and being objective about it is a good thing. However, like most good things, it is possible to have too much of it.
Nowhere Is this more applicable than having an obsession with body weight. Read on to identify some of the signs and its associated risks, as well as some advice: –
Weighing yourself often
Being ‘married to the scale’ is a pretty good indicator that there might be a problem. How often do you weight yourself? If its once a month, or even a week, you’re probably okay. Any more frequent than that might be something you want to look at and address.
Why would there be a need to weigh yourself more than once a week? Unless you were instructed by your doctor to do so, we really can’t think of a good reason. Body weight and healthy weight-loss is a gradual process. Therefore, minor fluctuations in weight over short periods don’t really mean much. Weight could go up or down slightly for a number of reasons that aren’t really connected to fat loss; such as water retention, salt intake etc. As such, this information does not serve any real purpose.
While getting on the scale more often may not directly affect your physical health, it may not be the best thing for your mental health.
This is something that happens to all of us from time to time, be it getting up late and rushing to work without breakfast or forgetting to eat lunch. Skipping a meal on purpose though is what should be seen as a problem. If your concern is to lose weight or avoid gaining it, thinking that eating less food will somehow support you in these goals is erroneous. You might lose weight doing this for a while but it is sure to come back, for more than one reason. Skipping meals consistently may slow down your metabolism and the resulting caloric deficit will teach your body to hoard fat when you start eating more often. You are far more likely to eat unhealthily in the meal following the one you skipped. Eating on time and perhaps even before you’re really, really hungry lets you make better food choices, something that will have a much larger net effect on your health and body weight long term.
You must read: Optimal meal frequency
You don’t need to skip meals or eat less to lose weight, you just need to eat the right things. If you hold a different belief, it’s worth correcting it before you do damage that was entirely unnecessary.
We’re big fans of doing this for a while, especially when making a big dietary change to get an objective idea about how many calories you eat in a day. Getting an average of a few days gives you a good idea of how much energy you are consuming.
It is important to note however that the primary reason for doing this is to determine if you are getting enough calories rather than too many. If you are a conscious eater that consumes healthy food, getting slightly more calories than you need is not a problem but getting fewer definitely is.
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As long as you are in a rough ball-park figure, there should be no need to hit any precise numbers. Our bodies have glycogen stores in our muscles and liver that make up for occasional deficits as well as serve as contingency for future ones. All you need to ensure is that you are consuming enough on average. The World Health Organization specifies a minimum baseline of 2100 calories for adults and you really shouldn’t really venture too far south of this figure.
The bottom line is that you very rarely need to count every calorie to meet health or weight-loss goals. If you think you do, perhaps your diet needs to change. 100 calories from ice cream is not the same as 100 calories from an avocado.
Equating being slim to being healthy
While too much weight is definitely not healthy, weight and health are not inversely proportional. As such, the laws of diminishing returns apply once you get down to a certain body fat percentage. We need a certain amount of body fat to remain healthy. This is particularly true for females. Now, we’re not saying you should add fat to your diet because it is nearly impossible to not get the required amount as long as you’re eating enough. What we’re trying to say is that you shouldn’t aim to get as thin as possible because it serves no real benefit.
Instead of aiming for a target weight, you should focus on making lifestyle changes to be in the best possible health. Hitting some sort of magic number or fitting in a certain dress is not a long-term fitness goal.
Studies such as the Minnesota starvation experiments have revealed that individuals who aren’t getting enough food consistently end up obsessing about food, to the point of collecting recipes, cookbooks and thinking about food throughout the day. Behaviour such as playing with food, cutting it up unto bite-sized parts or making it occupy more space on the plate than necessary are early signs of an eating disorder. It is essential to start consuming the correct amount of food.
One can end up limiting their food choices by well-meaning decisions such as only eating organic produce or insisting on cooking themselves. What you eat in a day doesn’t matter. What matters is eating right long-term.
If you eat the right foods, it is possible to eat in abundance and still maintain a healthy body weight. Any signs of disordered eating should be corrected quickly.
Being committed to working out is great but if you find yourself unable to take a rest day, that may indicate a problem.
You see, your training is actually absorbed only after you get adequate rest. That Is when your work solidifies and the wear and tear caused by exercise can be repaired. This sets you up for future work which is what will see you reaching goals and achieving lasting results.
Therefore, there is no logical reason to run yourself into the ground and not be able to take a break from training.
This is especially a matter of concern if you for some reason believe that you will gain weight or lose fitness for the days you take it easy. This isn’t true, as we’ve discussed above. Fitness acquired through consistent training will require consistent negligence to be undone. Any minor fluctuations in weight are insignificant and if perceivable, they are likely due to things like water retention.
Then there is also the chance of you ignoring something that may eventually cause injury. Things like joint pain, tight muscles or any number of other discomforts that need to be addressed before they start limiting your ability to exercise.
Rest and recovery is part of the equation when it comes to healthy body weight and fitness.
Health and fitness is subject to more fads and trends than most other areas of self-improvement. There’s a new bikini body guide, revolutionary ab workout, incredible supplement, powerful weight-loss method and diet coming out almost every 3 months. An obsessed person can easily get swindled out of time and money by jumping from one bandwagon to the other, chasing a ‘quicker’ method to their goals. This is a sign of someone being obsessed with the destination and not committing to the journey.
In reality, goals require consistent work, time and commitment. We live in a time where we’re trying to optimize and ‘hack’ everything. It’s worth remembering that there are no shortcuts to long-term health and fitness so stick to the basics and actually focus on these long term goals.
Trying 10 different things at once will only confuse you as well as the body.
Accepting and restricting yourself to imaginary standards
Size-zero models adorn pages of magazines, TV advertisements as well as Instagram and public Facebook profiles. Accepting these as standards for an ideal body is setting yourself up for failure,
mainly because these images are often photo-shopped and the subjects wildly fluctuate in body weight themselves between photo-shoots.
Any sort of food avoidance or restriction of calories should be treated as a serious threat to your long-term health. Take note if you find yourself or someone you know chewing gum, brushing their teeth multiple times a day, or loading up on stimulants like caffeine in a bid to supress hunger.
These people end up being an emotional liability for themselves as well as those around them.
Why did you start working out in the first place? What inspired you to get fitter and leaner? Perhaps it was to fit in a dress for a special occasion, increase your performance at your sport of choice or maybe just to look good. It is possible to lose sight of what made these things important to you in the first place.
It is very rare for any single thing to be a one-stop solution to a goal. What would be the point of fitting in the dress if you were to fall sick on the day of the event? What would be the point of losing weight for your sport if you were to also lose strength and power?
When we obsess over things, we confine ourselves to a tunnel-vision of sorts and are unable to see the bigger picture.
If you remember what’s important, keep doing the right things and have patience, you cannot go wrong.