Your Fitness Quest, Part 1: Fitness vs. Weight Loss

CameraZOOM-20121228111423265I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you’re a geek. You might be a bookworm or a Trekkie, an MMO raider or hardcore PvPer–it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re about to accept the first quest as you level up into a brand new lifestyle, a lifestyle where you still get to be just as nerdy and geeky as you already are, only fitter and healthier.

That sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

Well, the first step to being fit while geeking out is simple, but not easy. Starting any kind of diet or exercise plan is a big deal, and I remember reading somewhere that approximately half the folks who start a lifestyle change or exercise program end up giving up before they reach their goal.

Why? Because they weren’t motivated. And even if they were, it wasn’t the right kind of motivation. Once you have that,it’s easysauce.

But before that, there’s something I feel you must understand, and for me, it was one of the hardest things to get through my mind: the difference between Fitness and Weight Loss.

Being fat my whole life, I had always just used the term weight loss as a synonym for healthy living. Which isn’t the case. So the first thing you should do on your quest to live a healthy, geeky lifestyle is understand the difference. The best part, though, is that it’s incredibly simple.

Weight Loss vs. Fitness

Weight loss, obviously, is losing weight. You burn more calories than you intake (3,500 burned equals one pound, by the way, so keep that in mind), and you get lighter. In its most basic terms, weight loss is pretty simple. It’s just a number getting lower.

The issue people–myself included–tend to have with weight loss, though, is that they think weight loss alone is enough, that a lower number on the scale equates to health.

It isn’t. It doesn’t.

My drop from 310 to 170 is phenomenal and definitely something to be excited about, but the weight loss is only the first step to being healthy. Just because I weigh 170 pounds now, I’m not automatically healthy. And vice versa, just because a person weighs over 200 pounds, he or she isn’t necessarily unhealthy.

(Also, keep in mind that lean muscle weighs a lot more than fat because of it’s density. So as you work out and build muscle, the pounds might not shed like you want. So you’ll probably need other ways to gauge your progress–clothes fitting better, increased exercise endurance, not having asthma attacks, etc.)

You see, weight loss is just a tool to get healthy.

Weight loss is a step–a major step, mind you–on the way to fitness. But just a step nonetheless.

What you should be working toward is being fit, toward living a healthy lifestyle. You want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without being winded. That’s a sign of fitness, not being light. 300 pound people with fit lungs can do it the same as 110 lb people. You want to be able to run a 5k in under 30 minutes? Being lighter will help, sure, but I guarantee people heavier than I am have done it.

Most times, weight loss comes with fitness. It’s a major sign that you’re on the right track. But weight loss, simply being lighter, should not be your primary goal. Health, wellness, and a high quality of life should be. Weight loss will come as you get fit, I promise. Just be sure to understand the difference.

Next Up: Starting Your Fitness Quest, Part 2: Finding Your Motivation

9 thoughts on “Your Fitness Quest, Part 1: Fitness vs. Weight Loss

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for addressing this at the very beginning! Yes, weight loss is important, but I much prefer the the “pants test” (i.e. you can put on pants that were a wee bit small before). Anyway, the only scale I’ve got at home is the Wii balance board and I want to keep it that way.

    Although, I must warn everyone: getting fit is hard on the pocketbook once you find yourself floating in your old clothes and not yet at the goal you set yourself.

    • Thanks a lot. I think it’s very important to have this as a starting point, but I understand how hard it is to keep in mind. These days, I’m using my clothes as an indicator way more than weight, and over the holidays, I’ve put on just a couple pounds, but my clothes are a bit tighter, so that’s my motivation, not the number. It takes a while to get there, though.

    • I also have to say I hate the Wii balance board. WiiFit told me I was overweight and huge when I’d lost 70lbs, and the Mii didn’t even move to medium size. So I stopped using it because it was negatively reinforcing me and didn’t work.

  2. I highly recommend re-purposing what you’ve got! It won’t work for dramatic weight loss, but a lot of things can be re-tailored and fitted to your new frame, and it costs a lot less than buying a whole new wardrobe.

    • The one problem I’ve come across for retailoring and repurposing my clothes is that men’s dress clothes can only be taken in about 2 inches before they lose their shape and the tailors won’t do anything about it. Collars and lapels are ruined when you have to cut the garment, and so it’s better to just buy a new one in your size.

      Not to say you can’t do that with a lot of stuff, especially if you know a good tailor or seamstress. I know I’m bad about buying way more transitional clothes than I should. My wife gets onto me a lot for it.

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