Silva: Weight loss just a side effect

08/30/2013 5:58 PM

08/30/2013 5:59 PM

I’ve written about the many reasons that I started my fitness mission several years ago — to feel good, to look good, to reduce stress and for overall good health.

One reason I’ve never mentioned is one that many people — maybe even most people — have for exercising: losing weight.

It may sound strange, but I’ve never really considered losing weight as a motivation for working out.

I wish it wasn’t a motivation for so many people. I wish the motivation was to feel good, be healthy and look fit.

In a perfect world — or at least in my perfect world — weight loss wouldn’t be such an obsession. Getting fit, having a healthy body and sound mind, and enjoying an active lifestyle would be the focus. Losing weight would just be a side effect. A nice side effect, mind you.

Being lighter means I get around easier and can run faster.

But I generally don’t care how much I weigh. In fact, I rarely weigh myself.

Instead, I measure things by how I feel, how I fit in my clothes and how strong I am.

For a runner, being lighter is an advantage. It means I have less weight to propel, and over the course of 30-40 miles a week, every few pounds count. Having a leaner body makes me more efficient in my running and reduces the wear and tear on my knees, feet and ankles.

I find weight, however, to be an unreliable measurement for overall fitness.

I’ve been hitting the weights pretty hard over the past few weeks as I train for a half-marathon in early October. Adding muscle will add some weight (it’s heavier than fat, after all). But I’d rather weigh a little more and be stronger, than weigh less and not have the strength.

As you continue your fitness journey, I suggest you stay away from the scale. Maybe weigh yourself once a month, just for motivation.

Instead, focus on different numbers: The amount of minutes of exercise you’re logging, how much water you’re drinking and how many calories you’re taking in and burning each day.

Focus on those numbers and the weight will drop — again, a nice side effect.

One thing to remember is that exercising is only part of the battle. A major part of getting fit is nutrition. Simply, you cannot improve your fitness (and lose weight in the process) just by exercising.

I wrote recently about thinking about how the food you eat makes you feel.

I also like to think of food as fuel. It fuels my running and it fuels my life. When I think about what I’m going to eat, I think to myself ‘‘Is this going to be good fuel for tomorrow’s run?’’ If not, I usually skip it.

Just remember: Don’t obsess over weight. Get fit to live a happy, healthy life. That’s worthwhile motivation.

My half-marathon training has gone well so far, and my training plan seems to be working. I feel stronger than I have for a while — probably since just before my marathon. I’ve also been able to avoid any serious injuries, other than a nasty blister that is still healing.

I don’t know how well I’ll perform this time around — a personal record may not be in the books.

But if I can run well and feel good doing it, I’ll be happy.

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