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  1. #1
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Weight is Irrelevant

    Well, no, not really. However, I'm discovering, when reading through threads here in C&A, that we have become a group of scale-worshipers.

    Here's my take: Scale weight is one of many indicators of overall health. However, for many of us it has become THE most important thing. I suggest that when we eat better and bicycle that we change our mind-set in regards to the reason: Don't do it specifically for weight loss, do it for health gain. Do it to be more mobile, to fight off chronic disease, to be healthier, and then weight loss will be a wonderful part of that health gain.

    In my experience, looking at it this way has made it easier. Although weight is an important indicator, is it not only part of the story?
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    I wouldn’t be so quick to categorize the mindset of the multitude as that of “scale-worshipers”, for there are many who ride whose primary concern isn’t weight. Many ride for its simple pleasure, or as a means for socializing, or to combat medical issues, or to commute, or to simply exercise their heart to hopefully prevent a heart attack, but there are numerous additional reasons that people ride that have nothing to do with weight.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    [SIZE=3]Although weight is an important indicator, is it not only part of the story?
    I agree with your point. One of the biggest "ah ha" moments for me was when I came to the conclusion about weight being a indicator of fitness not the goal. In short, I changed from wanting to be a skinny couch potato to an active and fit guy. When I did this, weight became a secondary issue.

    I chose cycling as my way of getting fit for a bunch of reasons that worked for me. As I ride more and push myself, my weight is decreasing. As my joy of cycling has increased and I want to tackle more challenging routes (hills) or longer distances, I do want to get lighter. However, I don't make weight loss my fitness goal. Being a fitter, better cyclist is my goal.

  4. #4
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwramseier View Post
    Being a fitter, better cyclist is my goal.
    ^ What he said!

    It started as weight loss but I quickly fell in love with cycling. I learned much and managed to lose some weight. When I made good strides with my weight, my cycling performance picked way up.

    For me, cycling performance comes down to power to weight ratio. Many of us aren't going to affect our power much, however we can drastically affect our power to weight ratio by losing weight. One good thing about being a fat cyclist (I'm 5'8" @ 200 lbs) is I've got a lot to give on the weight side of the equation so yes weight becomes very important to me.

    I don't ride to smell the roses or rattle around the neighborhood at 10 MPH. I count miles, like to go long, like to go fast. While all these are relative terms to me, I push, push, and push some more.

    I admire the folks who've gone from obese to normal, folks who do 700 mile months! One of us recently did a 8.1 mile TT at 25.5 MPH, very inspirational. Way to go!

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    I think worship is taking it a bit far, but I'm quite proud of the weight I've lost. It is the measurable part of getting healthier. It is something we can all easily look at as often as we choose, and get feedback on how we are doing. What is the first thing people ask you when you tell them you started riding to get in better shape; "how much healthier are you", or "how much weight have you lost"? If not weight loss, how do you suggest we should measure our progress?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    I have a different take on it.

    I don't ride to lose weight. I lose weight to ride.

    I ride for fun, socialization, and stress relief.

  7. #7
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    I have a friend who sings in the same choir as I do. He works about 20 miles from his house. And about 5 years ago, after a divorce and some health issues, he decided to take up cycling again.

    He cycles back and forth to work daily. He has a rehearsal on Saturday morning that is about 35 miles, and he cycles to that as well. Once a month he will take a long ride into the big city for a special event. He doesn't ride fast, he has two bikes, a cheap road bike for good weather, and a cheap hybrid for winter.

    Yet when you look at him, you wouldn't think he was fit, he still has a belly.

    So clearly he doesn't focus on his weight and calories, he just gets his miles in.

    I'd like to be slimmer, and be able to get my miles in, and I think that one will help the other.

    But his health is much better than it was, as is his stress levels. His aerobic capacity, important for singing, is very high.

  8. #8
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat2k3 View Post
    I think worship is taking it a bit far, but I'm quite proud of the weight I've lost. It is the measurable part of getting healthier. It is something we can all easily look at as often as we choose, and get feedback on how we are doing. What is the first thing people ask you when you tell them you started riding to get in better shape; "how much healthier are you", or "how much weight have you lost"?
    People will ask "how much weight have you lost", but what others ask doesn't make it the most critical thing. We're in an appearance oriented society, where most people diet and try to lose weight more for appearance than health. Look at the emphasis of weight-loss commercials: They're about how ya look. Ready to fit in that bikini and impress the guys? I say get healthy, and then let weight and appearance take care of themselves
    If not weight loss, how do you suggest we should measure our progress?
    Progress can be measured with weight loss, most certainly. When I started the "I Joined Weight Watchers!" thread 2-1/2 years ago, and in a million other threads I've started or posted in here at C&A, I've always placed importance on weight. However, now that I'm looking back on my experience, I'm starting to think of weight not as the disease, or the real problem; but actually as one of the symptoms of the real problem. Which for me was an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle. But to answer your question directly, we can measure cholesterol, triglycerides, resting heart rate, and other medical numbers. Additionally, how we feel (although subjective) is a good measurement too. For example, is it getting easier to walk up stairways? Are you suddenly able to keep up with the kids/grandkids? Joints hurt a little less?

    I think what I'm learning on this journey is that weight itself, although important, is not the disease or the cause of other diseases. I'm learning to view it as another one of many symptoms of what the disease really is: the poor lifestyle.

    So I can look at weight gain the same way I look at sneezing. When we start sneezing, what we do is look for the reason, and then deal with the reason directly. Is it because of allergies? Cold? Flu? When we deal with the underlying disease directly, then as it is healed the sneezing stops automatically. That's the way I look at weight now - as one of the symptoms of the disease, whatever it is, and not as a disease unto itself. Yes, I dieted to lose weight on the Weight Watchers program, but discovered that the actual problem was not the overweight - it was the poor lifestyle.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    I hear what you are saying but you can improve your lifestyle and still have a weight problem and it is still a problem.


    Mark

  10. #10
    Senior Member daviddavieboy's Avatar
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    I started visiting this site because in my youth I was a competitive cyclist who over the years gained alot of weight. I am striving to become above all a better cyclist and for that I need to lose weight plain and simple. Hearing how some here were able to get rid of their excess poundage motivates and inspires me, especially those who are now into racing. You can be fit at higher weight levels but when a weenie with about the same muscle build passes me on a hill cause I have a extra 70 pounds I am pushing it pisses me off.

  11. #11
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    "Weight is Irrelevant"

    Unless you live at the top of a 12% hill.

    I get what you are saying though. On the flat I can keep up with a lot of group rides. Sadly, were I live a ride of over ten miles with out hitting some moderate hills is a rarity, And I still get dropped, though I am hanging on longer as fitness goes up, and weight comes down.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

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    Yep. I've had people tell me that cycling hasn't done me any good since I'm still overweight, but I know I am much healthier than I used to be. I'd still like to get rid of excess fat, but the number on the scale isn't the only indicator of my health and fitness.

  13. #13
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Weight sure isn't irrelevant to others.
    If you run into an old acquaintence, they aren't going to look at you and think, "Wow, your blood pressure has improved" or "Congratulations, your lipid profile is better" or "Your fasting blood sugar must be great".
    They are either going to be thinking "Sure doesn't look as fat as they used to", "I can't believe how you let yourself go", "Isn't about time you did something about all your pounds".
    Maybe "You look younger and healthier" if it was a good friend.

    It kind of makes me sick when one person goes on and on about how much better somebody looks after they have lost 50#.
    I'm sure it's intended as a compliment, but comes off like they didn't earn approval as a person before.

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    I agree with much of what you are saying, but to say that weight is irrelevant I just can’t go along with. Weight is an important part of the equation, and one we can easily measure anytime we want, unlike cholesterol, triglycerides, and other medical tests. There is a reason that your Doctor checks your weight at every visit, medical science has told us that weight does matter. Having excess body fat does have a negative impact on your circulation, lymphatic system, and places more pressure on your internal organs. All other things being equal, a person with a health amount of body fat and weight is going to be in better health than someone who has excess fat. Farther more obesity is the disease, poor diet and lack of activity is the behavior that led to the disease. Just like lung cancer is the disease, but smoking is the activity that led to it, or cirrhosis is the disease but excess alcohol consumption is the activity that led to it. If not focusing on your weight is what works for you, that is fine, there is nothing wrong with that, but just because it is irrelevant to you does not mean it is irrelevant to your overall health.

  15. #15
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    It's not even about appearance even though it does play a factor.

    There are healthy body fat numbers every person should strive for and incidentally people who usually fall within those body fat limit look better than people who don't. So we are basically idolizing normality and health.
    Of course then we have atheticism, muscle mass, posture etc. But still when considering all of these factors it pretty much boils down to the fact that a person (be it male or female) with the ideal body fat percentage, good posture, and good muscle tone is going to look better than a person who does not have those traits. And all of those combined makes a pretty healthy person since all of those things benefit health
    Body fat has been discussed ad nauseum here so we all probably know what too much of it does. Mind you, too little is also bad.
    Good muscle tone keeps carb storage at a good level, keeps insulin resistance at bay and helps joints, the back, removes pains from all over etc.
    Good posture is a happy back.
    People have one, two or three checked and one should strive to improve the ones which are lacking.

  16. #16
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat2k3 View Post
    I agree with much of what you are saying, but to say that weight is irrelevant I just can’t go along with. Weight is an important part of the equation, and one we can easily measure anytime we want, unlike cholesterol, triglycerides, and other medical tests. There is a reason that your Doctor checks your weight at every visit, medical science has told us that weight does matter. Having excess body fat does have a negative impact on your circulation, lymphatic system, and places more pressure on your internal organs. All other things being equal, a person with a health amount of body fat and weight is going to be in better health than someone who has excess fat. Farther more obesity is the disease, poor diet and lack of activity is the behavior that led to the disease. Just like lung cancer is the disease, but smoking is the activity that led to it, or cirrhosis is the disease but excess alcohol consumption is the activity that led to it. If not focusing on your weight is what works for you, that is fine, there is nothing wrong with that, but just because it is irrelevant to you does not mean it is irrelevant to your overall health.
    If you would have read the post and not just the title, it would have helped. The first few words of the post were "Well, no, not really . . .". - - - In 99.9% of cases of obesity, it is the result of a lifestyle. When we picture obesity as a disease, we put ourselves in the position of being the victim, rather than the perpetrator. When we picture it as one of the symptoms of our sucko lifestyle, then we can deal with the real problem - our sucko lifestyle. Being overweight is something we did to ourselves, not something that happened to us. It is not the same thing as cancer.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    If you would have read the post and not just the title, it would have helped. The first few words of the post were "Well, no, not really . . .". - - - In 99.9% of cases of obesity, it is the result of a lifestyle. When we picture obesity as a disease, we put ourselves in the position of being the victim, rather than the perpetrator. When we picture it as one of the symptoms of our sucko lifestyle, then we can deal with the real problem - our sucko lifestyle. Being overweight is something we did to ourselves, not something that happened to us. It is not the same thing as cancer.
    This is actually a very good point. I'm glad you made this clear since I was a bit worried where this was going.

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    I could have swore I read there was a link between smoking and lung cancer, you know a sucko lifestyle leading to a condition we bring on ourselves. You know what we will just throw out what the medical community has told us and just go with what you feel. You are 100% correct obesity isn't really a disease, congratulations, I bet all those doctors feel pretty stupid now. Have a good day I'm done here.

  19. #19
    Senior Member camjr's Avatar
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    While weight loss is one of the factors driving my recent dive into cycling, it's the other things that go along with the weight loss that make the weight loss a driver for the other things to improve. I played soccer for 25 years until I was 30 years old. After quitting, and as I got up to 230 pounds, the damage to my knees and ankles incurred earlier in my life is compounded by the extra load. Also, an unhealthy lifestyle led to a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes which needed to be addressed in a serious manner.

    In about 3 months of portion control, limiting but not eliminating the bad carbs I love (if I eliminated them I would backslide into bad habits and not stick to the plan), walking, and now riding my new hybrid, I've dropped 10 pounds, my blood glucose levels have dropped from a nasty 230 to 135 and continue to drop, and my energy level has skyrocketed. My knees and ankles are feeling better, and my sleep has improved.

    While weight loss isn't the end goal, but the things I needed to address would be impossible without it. My goal is improved health, less pain, and to be off of my diabetes meds.

    Great thread!

  20. #20
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat2k3 View Post
    I could have swore I read there was a link between smoking and lung cancer, you know a sucko lifestyle leading to a condition we bring on ourselves. You know what we will just throw out what the medical community has told us and just go with what you feel. You are 100% correct obesity isn't really a disease, congratulations, I bet all those doctors feel pretty stupid now. Have a good day I'm done here.
    Well, both sides have valid points and I thought it was going to be an interesting discussion - but if you want to be "done here" I guess I can't stop you. Disagreements should lead to interesting discussion, and I'm sorry if you felt offended.
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  21. #21
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by camjr View Post
    While weight loss is one of the factors driving my recent dive into cycling, it's the other things that go along with the weight loss that make the weight loss a driver for the other things to improve. I played soccer for 25 years until I was 30 years old. After quitting, and as I got up to 230 pounds, the damage to my knees and ankles incurred earlier in my life is compounded by the extra load. Also, an unhealthy lifestyle led to a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes which needed to be addressed in a serious manner.

    In about 3 months of portion control, limiting but not eliminating the bad carbs I love (if I eliminated them I would backslide into bad habits and not stick to the plan), walking, and now riding my new hybrid, I've dropped 10 pounds, my blood glucose levels have dropped from a nasty 230 to 135 and continue to drop, and my energy level has skyrocketed. My knees and ankles are feeling better, and my sleep has improved.

    While weight loss isn't the end goal, but the things I needed to address would be impossible without it. My goal is improved health, less pain, and to be off of my diabetes meds.

    Great thread!
    Excellent points, and congratulations on your weight loss!
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  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    I rarely weigh myself. Don't even own a scale.

  23. #23
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    I rarely weigh myself. Don't even own a scale.
    I did not own a scale for a loooooooooong time, and I think that was the period of time when I was healthiest, fittest, and happiest. I just got on my bike and rode and rode and rode . . .
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  24. #24
    Senior Member pavemen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by camjr View Post
    While weight loss is one of the factors driving my recent dive into cycling, it's the other things that go along with the weight loss that make the weight loss a driver for the other things to improve. I played soccer for 25 years until I was 30 years old. After quitting, and as I got up to 230 pounds, the damage to my knees and ankles incurred earlier in my life is compounded by the extra load. Also, an unhealthy lifestyle led to a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes which needed to be addressed in a serious manner.

    In about 3 months of portion control, limiting but not eliminating the bad carbs I love (if I eliminated them I would backslide into bad habits and not stick to the plan), walking, and now riding my new hybrid, I've dropped 10 pounds, my blood glucose levels have dropped from a nasty 230 to 135 and continue to drop, and my energy level has skyrocketed. My knees and ankles are feeling better, and my sleep has improved.

    While weight loss isn't the end goal, but the things I needed to address would be impossible without it. My goal is improved health, less pain, and to be off of my diabetes meds.

    Great thread!
    Almost exactly my situation. After my initial weight loss though, it seems to have stagnated but I have had some additional life events that are helping me fall off the wagon with regard to eating and exercising. But I am getting back on it. I am just starting out at 300lb (tall and stocky) and working from there.

    It is nice to have the size, at least on the downhills! I coast past all of the smaller folks and keep coasting well after they have started pedaling again! Then they pass me on the hills :-(

  25. #25
    Giant-Riding Ogre Don Gwinn's Avatar
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    I'm about to put in my two cents about why weight often does really matter, but first: there ARE very important parts of life and fitness to which weight is irrelevant. You can't become a good person by getting lighter, and you can't make yourself look like your favorite celebrity or icon by reaching the same weight as they have. Sure, I buy all that.

    But.

    Weight is way less important than fitness, but weight is a component of fitness. Like anything you have to sort signal from noise, and so the bigger/grosser the "signal," the easier it is to tell from the "noise." When I weighed 370 pounds, people (not here, but IRL) were still explaining to me that BMI is flawed because muscle etc. etc.
    Sure, but at 370, I was obviously morbidly obese. It didn't take a BMI calculation to figure it out, because the weight was so obviously out of whack.

    Now I weigh 270 . . . . better, faster, quicker, healthier. The signal is beginning to show signs of the noise. I still look obviously overweight (I call it going from "Morbid Obesity" to "Mere Obesity.) I still can't keep up with a lean athlete with a similar-size frame who's only carrying, say, 200-215 pounds. But my resting heart rate is below the average adult range, I'm not "pre-diabetic," my asthma is no longer triggered by exercise, etc. Still, the fact that I weigh 270 pounds is a meaningful fact about my fitness. Even if I were a bodybuilder who'd reached that weight with leanness and a lot of muscle, it'd still be hard on my joints, it'd still make gymnastic movements and agility more difficult, and there's evidence that it'd still be just about equally hard on my heart. When I got to a little over 300, I had well-meaning friends telling me over and over that I was now in shape and I'd done it. One guy told me, "If you don't lose another pound, you did it, man. You look perfect." Well . . . . .

    I'd like to weigh 220 next year, and at that point, the signal and the noise will be even harder to tell apart. The scale will be an even less reliable indicator of overall fitness then. But, again . . . even if 220 is a fairly lean weight for me compared to now, I expect at that point to continue to re-adjust as I try to keep up with athletes in the 175-195 pound range . . . even that extra 25 pounds will still have consequences in terms of agility, joint stress, climbing, gymnastic movement . . . the weight itself will not be the total measure of my fitness, but it will matter.

    And that's not to mention specific activities. Am I fit enough for skydiving right now? Well, my heart can clearly take it, I'm stronger and more agile than I've ever been, even when I was playing college football and weighed a good 35 pounds less than I do now. But I weigh 50 pounds too much to be allowed to go up for my first jump at any school within 100 miles of my home. My weight renders me unfit for that activity. And like a fighter or a wrestler, the rules of the activity I'm training for can push me toward a scale focus. If I want to skydive next summer, but I don't get my weight below 220 lbs. consistently by then, I won't be fit to do it, at least by my lights. At that point, one of the things I have to decide is whether I want to jump back into BJJ with both feet. If I want to compete, I have to choose between competing as a "Super-Heavyweight" against people 6-8 inches taller than I am, or getting my weight low enough to make a 205-lb. cutoff to heavyweight in most of the BJJ tournaments around here. If I don't want to live by the scale, I don't have to, but if I want to grapple with people roughly my own size and length, making weight won't be optional.
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