Monday, November 12, 2007

Blog 019 - should I weigh myself?

A lot of people send me e-mails asking about the importance of weighing regularly as part of a fitness program. They often ask “As long as I’m fit, isn’t it OK to be overweight?” Here is my typical answer:

Weight does matter, so don't completely ignore it. It does seem true that one can be "Fit and Fat" as Dr. Steven Blair has said many times in his research articles on fitness.

If you’re overweight and trying to lose weight my advice has always been to focus first on the basics of a healthy lifestyle - healthy eating with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, healthy fats from olive oil, canola oil, and fish, and combine this with a regular exercise program. If you do these things really well, I believe that your weight will find its way to exactly where it should be. Remember, a big part of healthy eating is to avoid consuming excess calories.

Good health is a multifaceted phenomenon – and everything matters. Luckily, the formula for success is pretty simple, at least in concept – eat right, exercise, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, don’t drink excessively, and manage stress as best as you can.

These days we have a lot of good evidence that chronic stress is an important area to pay attention to as part of an overall fitness program. Chronic stress has a negative impact on our physiology and increases the risk for chronic disease.

We talked about Transcendental Meditation for stress relief in podcast 071. There appears to be good medical evidence that a regular meditation practice can help to lower blood pressure and even improve insulin resistance.

If you need to lose weight then it is a good idea to step on the scale at least once a week to monitor your progress, and to catch any slips in the wrong direction. But don't focus only on your weight. Yes, an optimal weight with a BMI under 25 has consistently been associated with reduced risks of chronic disease. But, fitness is about more than just weight.