In 2024, change your goals from losing weight to improving your overall fitness.

It’s a well-known fact in the world of fitness that a person’s weight isn’t a good predictor of their level of fitness. It’s time to stop being obsessed with weight loss.

It’s the 21st century, and AI is a thing, hoverboards are a thing, and video calls are a thing, but when it comes to fitness, we’re still pretty much in the dark. Most fitness coaches agree that BMI isn’t a good way to measure health, and it’s outdated. But weight and fat are still a big part of people’s minds. Experts, coaches, and nutritionists all agree that weight loss is the most popular goal in the world, especially for people who are just starting out in the gym.

The phenomenon of weight loss has been fuelled by a variety of factors, including societal conditioning, social pressure, and the unrealistic depiction of the ideal body shape in popular culture. This has led to the notion that weight is a determinant of physical fitness, wellbeing, contentment, beauty, appearance, and self-esteem.

Weight loss is a motivating factor for many, as it is directly related to the desire to improve one’s physical appearance. Furthermore, the relationship between exercise and caloric intake makes it a viable option for those looking to lose weight, according to Abraar Waryah, a coach and co-founder of Grid Iron Fitness Centre in Kolkata, Kolkata. According to fitness specialist Spoorthi S., a leaner physique is often associated with increased self-esteem and societal aesthetic standards, which is the primary reason for people’s obsession with weight loss.

It is important to note that overemphasising weight is not only incorrect, but can also be hazardous. Obsession with weight can result in the development of eating disorders, as well as other medical and psychological health issues, which are well-documented. However, weight is not an accurate indicator of overall health and fitness, according to Pooja Uddeshi, Consultant Sports Nutritionist at the Kolkata-Mumbai Hospital. BMI is a measure of body mass index, however, it can be higher for athletes who compete in certain weight categories, such as those in wrestling, weightlifting, and boxing.

It is essential to comprehend the scientific basis for fat loss, as opposed to weight loss, and to incorporate a comprehensive regimen that includes physical activity and adequate nutrition. This can have a detrimental effect on an individual’s mental health due to a persistent desire to lose weight, and may even result in body image issues.

In recent years, a number of professional sports organisations and federations have ceased or prohibited the practice of weighting their athletes. In some cases, they have even ceased the practice of measuring body fat percentage altogether, instead concentrating on other indicators of athletic ability and capacity, such as strength, velocity and endurance.

In the UK, gymnastics banned coaches from weighing their gymnasts to protect their athletes. In Australia, the nutrition agency that supports the women’s national football team stopped weighing players 2 years ago as they realised that weight had little to do with a player’s athletic ability or skill level. While many fitness professionals and nutritionists recommend checking your body composition to gain insight into details like body fat percentage, fat free mass (CFM), water and muscle percentage etc., even this has its limits.

Weight isn’t the only thing that tells you how healthy you are. Physical fitness and how you live your life can also tell you a lot about your health. They can tell you if you’re at risk of chronic disease, if your joints and muscles are healthy, and if you’re able to do everyday tasks. There are different indicators that show how far you’ve come, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. You can measure how strong you are, how strong your muscles are, how much you’re able to move around, and so on. Other signs that you’re getting fitter include having more energy, having a lower heart rate, having a better mental state, and being more aware of your health.

If you’re looking to lose weight for health reasons, it’s important to get advice from a health and fitness coach, especially since you’ll need to keep track of your main health indicators to track your progress. Waryah explains that a coach’s main job is to take a holistic approach to working with clients looking to lose weight. This includes creating personalised exercise plans, providing nutritional advice, and providing emotional support. “It’s important for us to encourage realistic goals, help people feel good about their body, and educate them on how to make healthy lifestyle changes instead of making short-term changes that don’t last,” Waryah says. “Developing a healthy relationship with eating and exercise is key to success and overall wellness.”

Health and fitness goals and markers are usually more about overall well-being than just looking good. Fixating on weight all the time can lead to bad body image, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Shrenik avlani is an author and editor who wrote and co-authored a book about functional fitness called ‘The Shivfit Way’.