There are many connections that can be made between exercise and weight. Exercise keeps me in a healthy head space even when the scale has tipped one way or the other. I use exercise as a tool to: promote a positive body awareness, re-enforce healthy eating habits, gain or maintain muscle mass, increase self efficacy and increase my resolve to continue on as healthy a path as possible for the rest of my life.
It is hard to discuss over fatness or obesity because of the pain and suffering people have been subjected to because they may have been considered outside of “normal’. The stigma that is associated with it is so powerful that it is easier not to talk about it, even when someone is asking for help.
I checked out the Canadian Obesity Network many years ago. My interest is in helping those who would like to improve their body composition as a means to improve their health. Finding the most constructive and compassionate way of doing so is essential. Movement is definitely a factor in my experience along with what we consume. I can address the movement factor but I will leave the nutritional counselling to those who understand it best.
On an even more personal level, I have had experience with disordered eating. But as of late, let’s say the last 2 years, I have adopted a more stable outlook. This perspective has minimized the need for negative self talk when I have not been “perfect”. I am not perfect and don’t try to be anymore.
Some say we should never comment on someone’s body weight. The one place where weight is addressed in my profession is when it comes to joint health, particularly the knees ( i.e. for every extra kilo or 2 pounds, the joint load increases 3-5 times). Exercise and weight are two factors that can be addressed when it comes to the health of our mechanical body.
How I associate exercise with weight:
Increased body awareness
Exercise for me increases my body awareness. It brings me to a place where I am focusing on my body’s sensations, the good and the bad. The good would be ease of movement, positive energy, clothing fitting comfortably and a sense of tone and firmness in my muscles.
Resetting the stage
If I am feeling overfat, a change in my exercise program can help set the stage for a new start, kind of like a change of seasons. It helps to renew my resolve to make healthier eating choices, and helps increase my vigor to stay on track. I have to be careful at these times and try not to be too radical or restrictive. This is because it is usually a waste of time, leading to negative talk and potential downward spirals if not kept in check.
Using exercise to elevate your mood
When you are feeling good about yourself, self love and forgiveness comes easier. A favorable outlook makes its easier to accept the process of self improvement without worrying about the length of time it will take to get there.
When I am in a range that I feel best at, exercise actually becomes easier. The focus is purely on health and longevity. I know that what I do physically on a daily basis means more than bouts of maniacal training and dieting.
I have rarely been underweight. It has occurred when I have restricted myself considerably. It is never sustainable and takes a lot of mental energy, and rarely leaves me feeling better. The nutritional deficit ultimately takes a toll on energy levels and general sense of well being.
Gaining muscle mass
One other reason to look at the interplay of exercise and weight would be if you are trying to gain muscle mass, or it you have low muscle mass. In this case, I have gained weight with weight training programs, and would consider this again if I was debilitated after injury or extended illness.
I also realize that with aging, my muscle mass will naturally deplete if left to its own devices, so some form of muscle strengthening to minimize sarcopenia is important (the stats may be different depending on where you look but after age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade).
I actually credit becoming a fitness instructor in Essentrics for developing a more stable body weight. My weight in general has stayed in the same 10 lb range for the last 2 years. My range previously was approximately 40 lbs since my teens. I think the frequency with which you focus on your body on a positive level, it becomes easier to manage the weight. I luckily have found something that once again, like dance, requires regular reflection of the body’s fitness. Exercising has been the best part of my day for a very long time.
Exercise or DIPA (daily intentional physical activity) goes way beyond burning a few extra calories. It’s a process that has its ups and downs, tons of variety if you look for it and new adventures if you are open to it. It can be used to self regulate on many levels and ultimately helps one be comfortable in their own skin.
Let’s get DIPA into the process!