Recently after a workout at the gym, I was speaking to two of the women who attended the class with me. I mentioned I was working with the trainer to lose weight. She said, “I started working with the trainer to GAIN weight” and I thought “you bitch!” (I did not say it, but I thought it loudly). But it made me realize- there are many reasons people decide to work up a sweat. Not everyone wants to buff up or slim down. Some people have different goals. And those goals are what push people to get fit.
There’s more to fitness than just weight loss. Any change in physical activity improves health. One study found that excise improved the health and cognitive function in elderly overweight patients, and that excise alone was as successful as changing diet AND fitness levels (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24787497). It appears that just breaking a sweat is enough to improve life and make aging less a less sucky endeavor. Working with weights can also improve bones and balance, so as you get older you can worry less about falling down and breaking a hip. There are way more benefits of exercise than simple weight loss.
The Mayo Clinic lists 7 health benefits of exercise (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389). Reducing depression, better heart health, and better sleep are all listed as benefits. Of course, weight loss is listed as #1. But motivating yourself to move needs to be more about just your waistline. There will always be a bad week- your work your ass off (you hope literally), eat well, and do everything right. And the scale.will.not.budge. But even if you stay fat (or, as people say now, “curvy”), there are so many other things you get from a good sweat session. Sometimes you need more inspiration than just “I’m fat. . . I need to be less fat!”. Knowing that I can sleep a little sounder, or have a stronger heart, is worth continuing to sweat it out.
And so we come back around the woman who came to the gym to gain weight. I go to the gym to lose weight, gain muscle, and be a fitter fatty. But some people come for the complete opposite reason I do. And having any goal is great. Seeing anyone consistently at the gym, and seeing their progress, helps inspire you. So yes, I am fat, and yes, she is skinny (and together we make a normal sized person), but we can both congratulate each other on our progress. And sometimes a little perspective is all you need to change your drive. So good job skinny lady at the gym- may your workouts make you more fat!