I think I mentioned a while ago that my gym got a makeover recently — they really spiffed up the joint, but they relocated the scale in a mysterious place, so I hadn’t been weighing myself. Well, Monday night I finally located it and sheepishly climbed aboard, expecting the worst. Much to my surprise, the number (159.4 lbs.) was a bit lower than expected.
I’ve been more conscious of my weight since I started working out — my fitness assessment a couple of years ago had my 5-foot-7-inch body bordering on overweight (a body mass index of 25) at 164 lbs. The whole BMI calculus is pretty controversial (a lot of buff guys, like Kobe Bryant and the majority of NBA players, for example, have BMIs as large as their biceps), but I was starting to get concerned that, because I was not Kobe Bryant, maybe I would just gradually add a pound or two every few months and wake up one morning tipping the scales at 180 or something.
It’s a very insidious process, and I’ve developed a new appreciation for how hard it can be to manage your weight.
So, it was interesting this morning to stumble upon a piece by Gina Kolata in the NY Times that addressed the whole weight question in a way that I’d never seen before: What is a person’s ideal weight and how do you know it when you reach it?
Kolata points out that even the most body-conscious people (i.e., elite athletes) don’t always successfully gauge how heavy or light they should be in order to perform at their best. But it can make a huge difference: Too heavy and the added baggage will slow you down; too light and your body begins burning muscle protein, sapping your energy. Andre Agassi, for example, would often stop eating in the days leading up to a major tournament in order to get leaner, a habit that frustrated his coach, who counseled him to simply train harder.
I’m not Andre Agassi — though my tennis game is improving — and I don’t think I have to worry much about losing too much weight. Nor am I going to lose any sleep over beating my personal best in a 5K (especially since I’ve never run a 5K). Maybe my ideal weight is precisely 159.4 lbs. and for that one hour in the gym on Monday night I was absolutely at the top of my game. Or not.
I guess the real point is that it’s a good idea to become a little less oblivious to energy levels, etc. when I’m at the gym or — what the heck — just less oblivious in general. I’ll try that and report back.