A Weighty Issue

Weight is a troubling measurement for those interested in fitness. It is so easy to measure, but it’s not a great indicator of fitness. Many people get hung up on the number on the scale to the detriment of their overall workout routine and fitness progress. I often advise my clients to throw away their scale (I don’t own one) and focus instead on body composition by taking measurements of specific parts of the body or even just noticing how their clothes fit. Doing so gives one a much more accurate understanding of fitness than weight itself.

As a pregnant woman in America, even outside of the traditional medical model of prenatal care, I’m subjected to weighing myself regularly. (I was never weighed when pregnant with my first child; we lived in London at the time.) I can see how obsessive I’ve become about how much weight I’ve gained, both overall and since my last prenatal appointment. This obsession only reaffirms my belief that weight is a misleading fixation when talking about health and wellness. After all, I’m confident that my body will do what it needs to do to grow a healthy baby. And I’m also sure that my healthy lifestyle will help me shed the weight once the baby is born.

There was something incredibly enlightening that happened yesterday regarding my pregnancy weight gain. I had a prenatal appointment, and I learned that I’ve gained 30 pounds in the first 34 weeks of pregnancy. As I talked with my midwife (who felt my weight gain is totally appropriate), I told her that I’m still eating pretty well (although I did admit to my recent brownie cravings), still getting quality exercise, and overall still feeling pretty well. I also told her that I’m starting to feel a bit more tired a bit more quickly. While I know all of this is normal, it’s still disheartening to an active person!

I got home from my appointment to find that my order of new fitness equipment to use with my personal training clients had arrived. One of the items was a 30 pound VersaBar. As I bent down to lift the package off of my porch (using my knees and not my back, of course!), I was shocked at how heavy it felt. I realized that this is the same amount of weight I am carrying around as pregnancy weight; no wonder I’m getting tired more easily!

So while I’m not going to run out and buy a scale and start recording my weight regularly, I do have a greater sense of understanding of those people who find measuring their weight motivating. For me, feeling my heart beat and my lungs expand as I work out is motivating enough.

Good health and great happiness to you.

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