The importance of maintaining a 'healthy' weight
You may notice that I’ve highlighted the word healthy in the title. There is an age old debate throughout the fitness industry as to what constitutes a healthy weight. Some people may be carrying a few extra pounds yet can run marathons at good speeds and with no risk to injury, meaning they have great cardiovascular health. Others may need a few extra pounds for performance such as powerlifting athletes or strongman/woman.
Companies such as Nike are inclusive of all body shapes, including recent advertising of their ‘plus sized’ range of clothing. So the current thought process might be a confusing one to the general public – Is it ok to be overweight? Carry a few extra pounds? Do I need to be skinny? Should I be 0% body fat?
There’s a significant difference between carrying a few extra pounds and exercising to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and being obese and sedentary.
Let’s start with a little personal opinion – I think it’s safe to carry a few extra pounds. If the person is going for regular walks, or completing other types of exercise then I think this is great. I actually know people who keep themselves in great shape with exercise and don’t want to restrict their calories to achieve an insanely chiselled, vein popping physique. Physique really shouldn’t be a measure of health. I have naturally always been quite skinny and I maintain a lean-ish physique, however I don’t try to maintain a hard, vascular six pack all year round as I like to eat what I like to a degree.
Where it becomes problematic is when it comes to excessive eating and/or lack of exercise. You may also want to put smoking into this as well (but we all know why smoking is bad!)
Whether you are underweight, average or overweight, following a poor diet of junk food and fizzy drinks may lead to health problems in the long run. Typically, a lack of vitamins, protein and increased blood markers such as cholesterol may lead to long term health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. The body doesn’t discriminate – whatever your weight, it will struggle to maintain an optimal level of homeostasis (the body’s equilibrium in how it runs)
By making changes to the diet such as reducing foods high in saturated fats, decreasing excessive sugar consumption and increasing home cooked foods such as low fat meats/vegan alternatives and vegetables will help you body to run more optimally. This means you’ll have more energy, concentration and you may even drop a couple of pounds if you are in a calorie deficit.
If you are overweight, the chance of illness becomes a lot higher. I’m not talking a couple of extra pounds, I mean several kilograms plus overweight. The main illnesses include diabetes and heart disease. By making some changes to the diet and going for a few walks per week, this may help to lose some weight which is putting your health at risk. I’m not saying that you would need to cut out all of the things you enjoy eating, but by reducing them, you could see your health improve and live for longer.