My riddle begins as a child. As a twelve year old, I watched my dad run a marathon and decided at that moment that one day I’d run one myself. Three kids and more than a quarter of a century later, I ran my first one earlier this year. I was in decent shape before I started training, having run for years prior to this. I wasn’t a fast runner, more slow and steady like the tortoise rather than the hare. But along with this time commitment of a training schedule, I thought ahh now, I’ll be a waif and excitedly envisioned my 17 year-old body from years gone by. But I lost no weight. Nope, not one pound. Okay so I drank more cokes than normal and ate one too many greasy breakfast sandwiches, but I was always hungry, and hey I was burning tons of calories. So don’t stop reading and give up on an exercise regime, let me explain…
First off, too many of us rely on the scale to tell us if we’re in good shape. So key #1, muscle weighs more than fat. When we’re building muscle, it can be disheartening when we step on that scale — we may even gain weight. So the scale is not the end-all in weight-loss. It can be a guide but not the only one. Instead you’ll be toning up and feeling fit and trim.
Key #2, people come in all different shapes and sizes. So we open a magazine or turn on a TV show, and all we see is thin. Maybe we’re the big-boned girls so tactfully described by many. So is thin in? In or not, it may not be the best. If we’re eating less than our body needs, we can simply run out of energy. Oh yes, I can lose a good five pounds with a bout of stomach flu or a dose of acute stress, but how much oomph do I have? It’s important to accept that healthy isn’t one particular look. Our genetic makeup plays a large part in determining our weight and size. It is possible for two healthy people who are the same height to vary in their weight by tens of pounds. A word of caution though; struggling with weight can run in families and the reason may not be genes, but rather bad eating habits and no exercise.
Key #3, focus on overall body fat percentage. There really isn’t an ideal weight relative to your height. The minimum amount of body fat for a woman that’s healthy is 12%, but the average is 22-25% for women. Men it’s a minimum of 5% and an average of 15-18%. Health clubs can generally check this for you.
Now we can be aware of our varying differences and what’s really important, but in a nutshell — if we eat more calories than our body needs, we’ll gain too much. Weight is a balancing act between the intake of calories and the burning of calories. And what helps tip the scales in either direction, is diet and exercise. Catch next week’s article where I’ll include tips on finding your ideal body weight.
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