Friday, June 29, 2012

Olympic Athletes

I am really excited about the Olympics. I've been watching trials in track and swimming. I've even written about them a few times. One of those was talking about athletes who have been called fat, even though they have little to no body fat. Yesterday, I read about some female Olympians who have BMIs that make them obese. Because of that, they're not really appealing to sponsors. They also compete in weightlifting, which doesn't really get the media exposure of swimming, gymnastics or track. This means that instead of making buckets of money like Michael Phelps, they're living week to week.

This is Sarah Robles who has a motto of "Pretty Strong" and "Beauty is Strength" I admire her strength. She can lift almost 300 pounds. She also weighs about 300 pounds. That does not mean she's not an athlete. In fact, she is not alone in being an Olympic Athlete who is a woman around 300 pounds. I've written about another American Olympic Weightlifter in the past. Here's a clearer picture of Olympic Bronze Medalist Cheryl Haworth and one of a male athlete of similar proportions:

Both have similar body fat percentages and weights. We have been conditioned to accept his body as one of an athlete, but not hers. The standards for men are clearly shown to us for our entire lives. TV shows have reinforced it for generations. From "The Honeymooners" to "King of Queens" the hot wife and overweight husband dynamic has been shown to all of us. I'm not saying that overweight men should only date overweight women. I just think these shows, and others like them, set up unrealistic expectations for women, and possibly unhealthy ones for men. (Jackie Gleason was hardly athletic; he sat all day long as a bus driver.)
I hope that these weightlifting women can get recognition for their athleticism, despite not fitting into a size 4. I know that they have inspired me to lift heavier weights more often and to watch weightlifting in addition to running.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012


It's easy to think that we're not running quickly enough. If you see people finishing a 5K in 15-17 minutes and it's taking you longer than 30, it's easy to think, "They're twice as fast as me, I'm really slow." Remember that you may be slower than that handful of people, but you're faster than all the people in red. That represents about 95% of US residents who don't run 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons or marathons. You may be slower than Ryan Hall, but you're faster than 95% of people in the US.

I don't know how often you can say you're in the top 5% of the population in anything, but I don't get to say it that often. Just by signing up for a 5K and completing it, you're putting yourself in a category with a small portion of the entire population. Congrats!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Underlying Issues

I have suggested that counseling be required for anyone undergoing weight loss surgery. Perhaps I should expand that to say that anyone losing a substantial amount of weight should seek counseling. Even if the weight loss is done via diet and exercise, the reasons for the initial weight gain is not being addressed. The causes of weight gain are easy to see; people eat more calories than they burn. The more difficult question is WHY do people do this?

There are some concrete answers to this question. Poor food choices, drinking empty calories, lack of exercise and portion control can all explain some weight gain. This doesn't explain why about 75% of people who lose weight gain it back. There is some science that shows that metabolism slows more than expected during weight loss, so returning to a caloric load meant to maintain weight can lead to some weight gain. This doesn't explain people who lose 50, 100, or more pounds regaining that all and sometimes even more. To gain 50 pounds, you need to eat 175,000 more calories than you burn. This does not happen overnight. Even if you're eating like it's Thanksgiving every day, it would take you at least a month to gain that much weight. Plus, you'd have to eat that much EVERY day. The reason for that behavior needs to be addressed and changed.

I think the key to losing weight and keeping it off is therapy. Turns out that there's some scientific evidence fo that belief. If you don't address the reasons why you gained the weight, it will come back. If you don't treat the issue emotionally and metally, you will treat it with food, booze, drugs or some other external item. There's also the need to address the disregard for health that is evident with a large weight gain. The same can be said for smokers or any other "progressively suicidal" behavior. Smoking won't kill you immediately, but it will eventually shorten your life span. The same can be said for alcohol abuse, drug abuse or obesity.

I was thinking of this because I saw a story of a man who lost 400 pounds through diet and exercise. He took 26 months to lose it all and 36 months to regain 75% of it. No one seemed to mention him getting any counseling at all. In an interview, he briefly mentioned needing to have a good foundation before the weight loss and that he was lacking that the first time. The story seemed to suggest that he was using his girlfriend for that foundation, though, rather than building it in himself. I hope that he is doing something to overcome his demons and build the foundation internally.