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Here's to You: Get off the scale and get on a plan

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

As a trainer, the No. 1 thing I hear from new clients when I ask them what their goals are is, "I want to lose weight." The conversation usually goes something like this.

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"What are your goals?"

"I want to lose some weight."

"Okay, how much weight do you want to lose?"

"(Insert number here.)"

"Well, why do you want to lose that much weight?"

"Because I want to feel better and be able to play with my kids again."

Or:

"I want to fit into the same clothes I did when I was in high school."

Or:

"I gained a lot of weight since I had a baby and I don't feel good about myself anymore."

That last one is more common from women but I hear men say equivalent statements sometimes.

The truth is that those reasons above actually have almost nothing to do with how much a person weighs. Let me rephrase that conversation so that you hear what a trainer (well me anyways, I can't speak for other trainers) hears.

"What are your goals?"

"I want to lose some weight."

"Okay, how much weight do you want to lose?"

"(Insert number here.)"

"Well why do you want to lose that much weight?"

"I want to feel better and be able to do the things I want to do."

Or:

"I want my clothes to fit better."

Or:

"I want to regain my self-esteem."

Now I am not saying that people don't have legitimate reasons to lose weight, because they do. We are an obese nation. But weight is not what matters. How do you feel (health)? Can you do the things you want to do (performance)? How do your clothes fit (body fat)? How do you feel about yourself (self-esteem)? These are the truly important questions to ask. These are the things that count.

To tell you the truth, without fail, when I have a client tell me he or she has stopped weighing themselves and is just going by how he or she feels and how his or her clothes fit, the client instantly feels relieved. He or she is no longer tying self-esteem, health and performance to that number. That is when I see the client truly making progress.

Study after study have shown that people who are overweight but healthy and fit have a lower rate of mortality across the board than people who are at their ideal weight but are not healthy or fit. I have several clients who can attest to that. Even though a doctor would tell them they are obese, they can put many people to shame when it comes to tests of strength and conditioning. In fact I had one client who went on a several-thousand-mile bike trip where she followed the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico to its headwaters at Itasca State Park here in northern Minnesota. What makes her trip incredible is that she was in her 40s when she did this, was clinically obese and was able to keep up and recover with her riding partner who was in his 20s.

Let me repeat that. A 40-something obese woman was able to bike several thousand miles and keep up with her 20-something male riding partner. Now you go ask her how much that number on the scale means.

Another common thing that I hear is, "Justin, I am still about 10 pounds heavier than I was last time I fit into these jeans, but they fit better than they did back then. What's going on?"

I actually hear this all the time. It is because weight is not the deciding factor for how your clothes fit. When you go through training you are going to gain muscle, you are going to lose fat and you are going to increase your muscular density. How all three of these things interact is going to determine what size clothes you wear and how much you weigh. Now go out and get yourself a new wardrobe.

Okay, my rant is over. The take away message I want you to get from today is GET OFF THE SCALE. Tracking that number will not lead you down a good path. Get on an exercise program you enjoy and get on a good nutrition plan. Once you do those two things, your performance will go up, your health and fitness will increase, your self-esteem will improve, your clothes will fit better and you will be a happy person. Have a great week.

Justin Cox owns and operates Elite Performance and Fitness of Bemidji.

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