As a personal trainer, I work with people on a daily basis that come to me for the simple goal of weight loss. This week, as I was working with a client, and they said something that I found interesting. When talking about their fitness journey and where they had come from so far and what their future goals were, they said “I realized that health is not the same as losing weight. When you lose weight, you are not always getting healthier, but when you finally choose to take control of your health, weight loss is just a side-benefit.” Whether it is 20 lbs. or 200 lbs., there are people that commonly want to shed off that extra weight to get “healthier”. But, does shedding the extra weight really make you healthier?
Let me share where I have come from with my fitness journey, and let’s use it as an example as to why lighter body weight does not always mean healthier. Back in 2013-2014, I started my weight loss journey. Being 250 lbs. at 6’0”, and a soft 250 lbs. at that, I knew it was time to lose weight, and become healthier, or so I thought. I started seeing a personal trainer, began working out and eating right, and before I knew it, I was at the 200 lb. mark. But, soon thereafter, I wanted to take it further. I began getting ready for a bodybuilding show, which would end up taking me down to a body weight of 173 lbs. I can still remember thinking how good of shape I thought I was in, because I could see my abs, and even muscle fibers throughout my body. But, what happened after that, showed me that I really wasn’t “healthy”. The minute the bodybuilding show was done, I was back to trying to eat more food. The weight started coming back on. Before I knew it, my weight was back to 200+ lbs., and even if I ate a small amount of food, my weight would go up. You see, my metabolism had been crashed, and it was working at such a low maintenance level, I wasn’t able to eat enough food without gaining weight. Not to mention, my strength was down, my blood sugar was probably super low and all over the place, and achy joints and injuries started becoming worse. I wasn’t healthy at all, even with the number on the scale being lower.
What I wish I had realized earlier, is that weight loss does not always mean health increase. Literally, the weight on the scale can be a pound less if you do not drink enough water. But, that doesn’t sound healthy, just sounds like dehydration. I wish I would have built a better relationship with the types of food I needed to be healthier. It has taken a long time to correct the damage I did back then, and I don’t want to see other people do the same thing.
So, before you go on another fad diet that only gives you 1000 calories a day or less, promising huge amounts of weight loss in a short amount of time, take a step back and think about what healthy actually means. It isn’t just about the number on the scale, or even the way you look, but the way you feel. If you take a broken down car, and give it a nice paint job, it doesn’t mean that the car doesn’t still run poorly. Your body is no different. Treat it like you have only one, cause you do, and I promise it will pay you back with your goals. Today, I sit at 240 lbs., 10 lbs. less than where I started, but much more healthier than where I started and where I got to.
By: Ryan McIvor