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Results from Exercise: What we are probably missing (and why we aren’t good at understanding it)

Two quick stories.

Story 1.  I recently had an intelligent client tell me, and I paraphrase, “I’m just not making the progress or improvements that I want to, so I’d like to push back my Bod Pod test and schedule it for later.”  This client was frustrated because they felt as though they hadn’t lost any fat and made improvements to their body composition in the past couple of months.

Story 2.  I was speaking to a group of executives this week about exercise.  And before my presentation started, a few of them talked to me about how they hope my presentation would give them guidance in how exactly they should go about losing weight.

I find this fascinating.  Very smart people tend to look at the ONLY important outcome from exercise as… weight loss.  Yes, losing weight it a worthwhile goal.  Perhaps we are so focused on the goal of weight loss because it is easy to quantify (and we all love to measure!).  Certainty, weight loss is of importance because it impacts our appearance.  But it is but ONE of the many benefits of properly performed strength training (and not even the most important benefit).  We are so incredibly conditioned to think that the only reason to exercise and the most important reason we exercise is to control our weights.  This is simply not true.  I challenge you to abandon this myopic mindset.

The take home message is this: If you find yourself in a period when you are NOT losing weight or improving our body composition.  Please don’t assume you aren’t making progress.  You are only stagnating your progress in this ONE measurement.  If you are engaged in intelligent strength training, then most certainly you are reaping the following benefits (probably all of which are more important that fat loss). Note: you can measure some of these; others are harder to quantify on your own.  But they are still occurring.

  • Improved cognition and mitigation of mild cognitive important (more important than fat).
  • Muscle strength (more strongly correlated with preventing all-cause mortality than being overweight).
  • Reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors (more important than fat).
  • Increased bone mineral density.
  • Improved performance in the work place as a white collar, “knowledge worker.”

A follow-up on the client above.  They ended up doing the Bod Pod test and to their surprise, they had lost fat AND gained muscle.  But that’s beside the point!

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