It’s about time someone told the big, fat truth about the reality of body composition and what we really mean when we talk about “weight loss.” When you step on the scale, the number you see reflects every single cell and tissue in your body.
Yes, that does mean your body fat, but it also means your muscles, skeleton and the contents of your stomach -- and let’s not forget that the human body is made up of approximately 60 percent water!
Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss
Many of us are aware of the anecdotal statistic that says muscle is around three times as dense as fat and that exercise helps us add more muscle to our frames. But did you also know that regular exercise can contribute greatly to a favorable increase in bone density?
It can be so easy for us to step on the scale each morning and have the tone of our day set by that supposedly all-important number. Failure to see a loss -- or worse, actually seeing a gain -- can demotivate anyone attempting to get healthy. But next time you weigh yourself, regardless of whether the number is higher or lower than you anticipate, remember that there are countless variables that play into your overall weight, with fat being just one of them.
The Truth About BMI
Body mass index (BMI) is a formula commonly used by medical professionals as a means of determining the ideal body weight for a person based on their mass and height.
While doctors around the globe use BMI, consider that BMI was devised in the 1800s, making it almost 200 years old.
While BMI might be an arguably useful metric for obtaining a general idea of the relative weight of a sedentary individual, we can clearly see that it does not take into account things like lean-muscle mass, bone density, water retention or a range of other factors that may skew your BMI.
This makes the body mass index a quaint medical antiquity at best and an ill-advised measure of health at worst.
The New Skinny
Gross oversimplifications like “fat” and “skinny” tend to spring from metrics such as BMI, which are themselves overly simplistic in nature.
As the fitness industry has boomed in recent decades, an increasing number of men and (especially) women have become empowered with the realization they needn’t buy into those oversimplifications.
Skinny is no longer an ideal that many women aspire to. Instead, the goal is to become “healthy” -- whatever that means for your individual body type or health considerations. So let’s do away with these antiquated oversimplifications and instead create bodies for ourselves that are strong, healthy and able!
An exercise regimen consisting heavily of resistance training or weightlifting, with some complementary cardiovascular activities depending on one’s current goals or body-fat levels, will yield far greater results for both women and men.
So toss your scale out the window, forget about nonsense like body mass index and “weight loss” and instead use your body and transform it into one that looks and feels great.
Story originally published on Livestrong.com. Written by Dai Manuel