Weight Loss As An Indicator of Fitness

Until my time as a team member at Atlas Wearables, gyms and “conventional” strength training were strange and unfamiliar topics that I readily avoided. Atlas gave me a number of reasons to invest time in these activities - the most prevalent of which was the Atlas HQ gym within walking distance of my desk. Within the past few months, I’ve gained a lot of strength and knowledge and a few pounds of muscle.

I feel healthier and I weigh more, although much of popular culture is adamant about the idea that that’s not a possibility - if you’re looking to get “fit,” many people focus on shedding pounds. Meanwhile, the strength training community has a pretty prevalent focus on gains. As I see it, these two perspectives present a major conundrum for individuals looking for a healthier lifestyle: how do you know if you should be focusing on weight loss or weight gain?

According to the CDC, more than one-third of adult Americans are considered obese, so it’s hard to argue that weight loss is not a relevant modern concern. If a healthcare physician recommends weight loss, then an individual should certainly heed that advice.

However, it would seem that there is a significant population of health and fitness consumers who are not overweight and are interested in toning up functional strength, or both. In these instances, a scale can be a deceptive tool. If you aren’t starting from an overweight point and you’re exercising regularly - especially if that exercise includes regular weight lifting or strength training - then you may want to ditch the scale. You are likely to pack on pounds as you gain muscle and increase protein intake; it’s a phenomenon that’s both natural and worth celebrating, but if your focus is your weight then this progress can end up bumming you out.

To be clear, it’s incredibly useful to have an idea of (approximately) how much you weigh, but counting pounds on a daily basis isn’t what’s best for everyone.

So, if you aren't obsessing over your weight, what sort of fitness markers should you look towards? Here are a few easy personal inventory points to keep in mind as you move towards a healthier version of yourself:

Joint Mobility & Overall Flexibility
Devoting an extra 10-20 minutes to warming up before a workout and stretching afterward does your body a great service. Flexible muscles are less prone to injury, serve more protective functions for your joints and increase agility. Take time to pay attention to your muscles in basic stretches and warmups so that you are creating the appropriate balance between strength and flexibility. Joint warm ups and cool downs such as arm circles and wrist stretches serve a similar function and can highlight any potential strains or injuries before they get too serious. These 9 Mobility Exercises from the Onnit Academy are a great reference. Remember, a fit body should be strong and stretchy.

Ease of Basic Exercises
Certain exercises make for particularly convenient strength markers. Pull ups, push ups, sit-ups and squats require only basic fitness knowledge and provide an easy gauge of progress. Keep track of your reps and sets over time as a visual, reliable way to reach fitness goals. Conveniently, the Atlas Wristband is an excellent way to track your fitness progress over time!

Explosiveness, Power, and Agility
There is a wide range of exercises that improve explosiveness (this list of 17 Bodyweight Exercises for Explosiveness is a great place to start) and this facet is fairly simple to keep an eye on. Use the box jump, progressing to larger and larger boxes, as a simple way to keep track of your explosiveness. Agility is a broader concept and not as easily tracked, but mixing up your workout routine with a weekly team sport or the occasional visit to an obstacle course will help you keep an eye on your reaction time and mobility while preventing workout boredom and complacency. Whether it’s a pickup basketball game or a rec dodgeball league, the entirety of your workout routine doesn’t have to be contained to a gym.

Energy Level and Mood
Increased energy and better quality of sleep are my personal favorite benefits of regular exercise and healthy eating. You’re also likely to find yourself in a better mood on a regular basis (you know, endorphins and all that good stuff), so your friends, family, and coworkers will be appreciative of your healthy lifestyle! Try keeping a daily diary to track these points. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth look at your psyche, you can just write down how long you slept the night before, the most notable thing that happened that day, and where you're at energy-wise. As you fall into a healthier routine you may notice that your sleep patterns and energy level are more consistent and your noteworthy part of each day has a more positive focus.

Claire Leonard
Customer Service and Social Media Specialist

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