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The weight issue

I have been wanting to write this blog for awhile, but it is a hard blog to write. Why? The issue is weight.
- Weight is a sensitive topic to write about.
- Weight is also a very personal topic to write about.

In the past year, I slimmed down for Ironman. Of course I wanted to shed pounds (who doesn't), but the funny thing is I barely lost any weight. That may surprise some of you, since IM training requires A LOT of endurance and, thus, burns A LOT of calories. But, also to be able to train that hard, you intake a lot of calories and you have to develop muscle. Despite the fact that I didn't lose that much weight, here were the changes.
October 2009 - October 2010

What? How could I have not lost much weight? I think you can agree I am more toned in the picture on the right. And we have all heard that muscle weighs more than fat, well, this illustrates it.

Now, I am not posting this as a "look how much I changed" post, there is a larger point to this, so please bear with me. I, like many of my friends, have often looked to the scale to give me results. The pounds are what we count because they are concrete. A sure way to measure our "success". But "losing weight" isn't always what makes us healthier people. You can shed pounds and it may not be what is better for you in the long run. It also may not give you the results you want.

So, how could I have basically stayed the same over this past year? When you strengthen your muscles, the muscle fibers are actually woven closer together, thus creating a heavier, denser muscle. While this can make you gain weight on the scale, with your muscle fibers woven more tightly together, you are actually slimming down. If you, in addition, are at a calorie deficit, you will probably maintain your weight (as I did). If you are not at a calorie deficit, you will gain. This often discourages people and they give up-- don't let it! If I had been doing an Ironman with the intent to lose weight, I would have felt like a failure. But, if you look at my body changes, I believe it was a success!

My point: Sometimes you have to look beyond the scale to see the real success.

And folks, there's more:

Since IM, I have been still been training, although it with a stronger focus on running. While I have been keeping up on my strength training, I do want to shed some pounds (for the lightness factor) in running. This has resulted in another 6 lb. loss.
Although the pound for pound weight loss is the same, I think we can all agree the first 6 lb. 'transformation' is much more substantial. I say this, again, not as a "look at me" post, but to illustrate that sometimes when you are losing weight just to lose weight, it shows but not as much as when you are working hard to improve your overall health and fitness.

My second point: While the end result on the scale is the same, the end result in your body can be much different.

So, here I am, 12 lbs down-- do I feel any different? I feel healthier. I feel lighter when I run and exercise. On top of that, I feel stronger. While in the past I have worried about the scale, I think especially as I grow (gulp) older, I am doing it more for my health than my body image. And I think it is a good thing.

Surprising note (at least to me): By industry standards, I am still classified as overweight. Another reason not to live your life by the scale.


Karri said...

Amazing. I thought you looked fabulous at the IM. Very lean and sculpted. And I can't see how anyone who works out so much and has so much muscle can be considered "overweight". That's just bull. Go Randi!

Bret said...

Awesome post! I had the same type of transformation. I stayed about 234 pounds for almost 2 years. During the period, my friends were always asking how much weight have I lost, but I'd always say that I really hadn't lost any weight. My transformation was great, but it too didn't mean a weight loss or an obesity classification change from my doctor.

Anyways, congratulations on your transformation! You look great and thanks for the reminder that we have to look passed the scale to see the change in ourselves.