Health and fitness freaks often talk about things that we normal folk don’t understand. Normal people consider the amount of weight they’ve lost as the way to mark how healthy they are, but this isn’t always the case. There are many other aspects of health that we should take into account – not just one over the rest of them! The following health terms are used most. Here’s what they really mean:
Body Fat and Muscle Mass
Your body fat percentage is the amount of fat you have in your body compared to lean muscle. This number indicates how ‘lean’ you are. However, it doesn’t always indicate how healthy you are. Two women at 16% body fat could look totally different because of the amount of muscle mass one has. If one has more muscle mass, she will look more ‘toned’ than the other one. The other one will look skinny, as 16% is low, however, she won’t look shapely and defined like the other one. The same goes for men. Muscle mass is what gives us that toned, shapely appearance. This is why people are always saying women shouldn’t be afraid to use heavier weights. Using heavier weights will not bulk up a woman, but instead tone her muscles and help her shed any excess body fat. You can look online to see what women and of different body fat percentages look like.
Often, when people want to get a better body, they focus on the amount of weight they’ve lost. They shouldn’t do this, for reasons I’ll go into later. Lost inches are what you are looking for. Measuring yourself once per week or once every two weeks will give you a real indication of how much smaller you are getting. Let’s say your leg was 26 inches last week but is 24 inches this week. You’ve lost a whopping 2 inches of each leg – and that is often so much better than losing a few pounds according to the scales!
Your BMI is your ‘body mass index’. The healthy range is usually between 18.5 and 25. It takes into account your weight and height, to come up with a number. You can use a BMI calculator to work yours out. If you go below 18.5 you are classed as underweight, above 25 and you are classed as overweight. However, this method can be wrong for many reasons. For example, a man who weighs 18 stone, may be made of pure muscle that they have worked hard in the gym for. His BMI would likely say he is overweight, when in actual fact he’s very fit and healthy.
Losing weight is great if you’re very overweight. Watching those pounds drop off can be very satisfying! However, when you get to a certain point, it’s much better to focus on inches than on weight. This is because weight takes into account not only fat, but muscle mass (which makes us look toned), water, and other things in the body. You may have lost half a stone according to the scale, but NO inches whatsoever, because it was purely water, or muscle mass. Inches indicate the amount of fat lost, which is what we need to lose to get smaller and more toned!
Hopefully you understand these health terms better now. Good luck!