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Hooray! As a special for my 700th blog entry, I am starting a new weight loss series.

Mixed reviews are constantly being given to athletes and non-athletes alike.  As I sit watching a television series called “Ruby”, I found myself nodding my head at her struggles with competitive information given by her team of experts throughout her weight loss journey.  If you haven’t heard of Ruby, it’s a documentary series of weight loss through the eyes of a 470 pound Southern Belle named Ruby.  She (along with the television execs I’m sure) arranged a group of experts ranging from a medical doctor, nutritionist, to even a few fitness trainers whom all give out loving but conflicting advice.  Her experience really speaks to me as another person trying to lose weight and am also confused on specific topics such as how, what and why to lose weight.  No, I am not a super-skinny fitness guru that has all the answers and probably never will be but I do know that research is my strong point and that is just want I wanted to do.

My questions to be answered in this multi-article series: 
1. How do we know if we need to lose weight? Or maybe gain lean muscle mass?
2.  How much weight do I need to lose to achieve more success in the sports I enjoy most?
3.  Is my weight scale the best method of checking my progress?  Or, are there other methods that won’t leave me pleading in the bathroom every morning at the scale to be nice?

1.  Do I need to lose or gain muscle mass?

It seems my eyes automatically roll when a woman brings up weight loss in the gym.  Don’t get me wrong, I love people trying to better themselves but when someone complains of weight when obviously they need to gain a few it just makes me irritated.  Weight loss is a serious worldly epidemic which “at least 2.8 million people dying each year” due to obesity related problems. (WHO)  Weight is about health, not about appearance and should not be a method for receiving attention.  Maybe these women should be more worried with gaining lean muscle mass instead of losing weight.  So how does one know if weight loss/gain is necessary?  Or maybe gain lean muscle mass?  Oh the choices!

So how does one know to lose/gain weight or gain muscle mass?  Many athletes consider changing ones’ weight according to standards in a sport.  For example, a gymnast might want to lose a few pounds to increase flexibility, a ballerina might want to lose to fit the look one needs or a wrestler might want to gain weight to fit into a higher weight bracket.  Other athletes consider changing ones’ body image to increase performance (such as a marathoner) or to fit specific sport standards while others may find he/she is “skinny-fat” and needs to gain lean muscle mass to increase health.

At-home athletes may not have resources such as professionals but there are methods that can assist in determining ones “happy weight”.  In my situation, I prefer to look at the international basic “standards” called BMI (Body Mass Index).  You might have heard of this being in the news a lot the last few years thanks to modeling agencies overseas restricting work according to a models’ BMI. Weight standards state a normal weight range of 18.5-24.9, anyone greater than 25 is overweight, & anyone greater than 30 is considered obese.  Determining BMI simply requires inputting ones’ height and weight into this equation Weight in lbs ÷ {height in inches} ² x 705 = BMI. BMI is a convenient method of showing a connection between ones weight & height to ones’ health risks, if any.  The higher the percentage can be connected to a higher risk of health problems.

BMI should not be used by professional athletes and/or sports enthusiasts; it’s just a guide to get a person started.  Although helpful to a beginner, it does not take into consideration higher amounts of lean muscle mass (muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue).  (Aka, muscles are heavier than fat.) So, even if one does have a higher BMI percentile, one can still be healthy if fit.  On the other hand, one should be warned that BMI may show one’s weight as being ‘normal’ but in fact is not healthy (aka, skinny fat).  It is a known fact that as humans age, one tends to lose muscle mass but not body fat.  Unfair, I know!

Hence, BMI is a great method for determining the matter of ones’ healthy weight range in the beginning stages but not as one turns into a professional athlete.  A simple weight scale and a calculator can help determine ones’ BMI at home but what should a person do after this stage has been reached? Please note that although BMI is a good method at first, it is not the only reason one should lose/gain weight.  To find out more options, see part 2 of this series- coming soon.

Feel free to check your BMI here:
1. BMI Calculator (Adults)
2. BMI Calculator (Kids)
3. BMI Chart (Printables)

Question:  Do you use BMI to checkup on your own health risk factors & weight normality? Leave a comment below.

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