Why Weight? A Misguided Industry
"eating healthy, doing healthy, thinking healthy, feeling healthy, and living healthy.” - quoted from this review of the Gabriel Method program.
Back in May of 2014, Seth Godin (one of the greatest revolutionary thinkers of this era, in my humble opinion) wrote an article that talks about a social phenomenon he refers to as “speedometer confusion” - essentially an extension and simpler adaptation of Campbell’s Law.
“Speedometer confusion” posits that “the number on the speedometer isn’t always an indication of how fast you’re getting to where you’re going.” Seth Godin further explains that “You might, after all, be driving in circles, really quickly.”
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that scenario. In order to efficiently manage performance, we need a basis that is simple and measurable – one measuring stick that best represents the underlying metric.
Grades to measure intelligence. Hours of work to measure productivity. Money to measure happiness. Ad infinitum.
The problem comes when we get caught up with how that number looks like and focus on manipulating that number, even if it’s no longer improving the metric that it’s supposed to represent.
Arguably, that problem is never more prevalent than in the health and fitness industry; where a person’s weight lords over all other metrics.
Having a nickname like the “weight loss industry” or being flooded with ads and messages that encourage everyone to “lose weight” are evidences on how much emphasis is put on this one single metric - a very misguided emphasis at that.
Weight, in our discussion’s context, is a measurement of the heaviness of a person. Health, on the other hand, refers to a state of being free from illness or injury while fitness points to your capability to fulfill a physically straining task.
Does this mean that if you are the “right amount” of heavy, you are free from illness or are capable of fulfilling physically straining tasks? Not necessarily, wouldn’t you agree?
So, why weight?
Well, scientists have determined that people who are generally considered healthy fall under a certain weight range. It also didn’t help that majority of the American population are suffering from obesity, so “losing weight” seemed to be the message that would resonate best.
It was made with the best of intentions but resulted in a myriad of confusions. What was initially stated as a correlation came to be misunderstood as causation; and people began gaming the number.
The health-aware dieted their way into the “right weight” with no regard for nutrition. The fitness buffs exercised their way into the “right weight” with no regard for performance gains. While the vanity-conscious treadmilled and pilled their way into the “right weight” with no regard for body proportions.
Such gaming also leads to outright misconceptions such as “muscle weighs more than fat (muscle is denser, not heavier; and there’s a big difference)”, “gaining muscle is bad because it’s heavy”, “cardio is the way to go so you’ll lose weight without gaining muscles”, “losing weight, whether it’s fat weight, muscle weight, or water weight, is always a good thing”, and again, ad infinitum.
The fact of the matter is, someone who is in the “right” weight range can be malnourished, weak, and unattractive; and something as complicated as a person’s health and well-being can’t be measured by a metric as simple as weight alone.
The goal is still, and will always be, “eating healthy, doing healthy, thinking healthy, feeling healthy, and living healthy.” It’s a little more complicated and a little less measurable, but at least it hits the mark dead on.
So, why wait?
A simple change in perspective can change your approach to a problem, and a simple change in your approach can lead to an entirely different (and healthier) result. It’s time to change your dieting and exercising habits while making sure that you judge your progress not on weight alone; because, well, why weight?