Are Before-After Pictures Of Body Transformation Upsetting You?
For the past two decades, or even more, fitness has been reflected in one metric alone- that of weight. From those looking to get married to those wanting to lose weight after a life event, several people have looked at weight loss as the ultimate goal to achieve in life. As of 2014, 50% of all Americans have said that they want to lose weight that is one in two people! Interestingly, one marker that has etched itself in our collective subconscious is the concept of dramatic weight loss, as envisioned through before and after pictures.
For the uninitiated, several advertisements for fitness often present pictures of people before and after undertaking a certain course. This is often seen by the general populace as being proof of transformation. While we do agree that some of these transformations are legitimate, by just looking at pictures for reference, we are taking the focus away from the overall improvement in health and fitness. It could be that this particular person has dealt with autoimmune disorders, or has had trouble bingeing, but all of their journey is lost when it is just a pictorial representation.
As a result, most of us only look at one of the consequences of a health plan- weight loss, and do everything in our power to lose weight as quickly as possible. When our body hits a plateau with the current plan, we get disappointed, and may find ourselves abandoning the plan.
Is there a way to measure fitness and health more effectively? Enter, the Health and Fitness, or the HF score.
In order to calculate the HF score, we take into account several factors within and outside of your control. Here are a few aspects that have weight in HF score calculation.
- Environmental Factors: These factors are often ignored very significantly. Indeed, very few health plans account for aspects such as the air and water quality indices of the locality where a person lives, or think about exposure to carcinogens as an everyday occurrence. Did you know that poor air quality, presence of high particulate matter, chemicals in water supply and even plastics that we use on a daily basis have a harmful impact on the body? Another aspect to consider is the locale we live in. The greater the population density of where you live, the lesser fresh air you get. The environment component of the score takes all of these aspects into account.
- Behavioral Aspects: In this score component, we address not just the habits of a person, but also their frame of mind. We take into consideration how much you spoke or consume alcohol on an average day, and we also consider your stress levels, number of hours you work, the quality of sleep you get and your blood sugar levels that drive your fatigue or the absence of it. Another very important aspect we consider is your compliance with a health plan- based on your inputs in this area, we strive to design a plan for you that is easy to comply with.
- Computed Data: The human body is a very sophisticated machine. Like all other machines, it is churning out loads and loads of data every day. To a health coach paying attention, spotting dysfunction and deficiencies in the body based on testing is a doable task. With a host of tests that involve testing for nutrient balance, as well as hormone efficiency, and by combining these results with lifestyle aspects, we calculate a score that takes into account the body’s innate data.
- Body Function Tests: In the earlier section, we have spoken about dysfunction as a broad area of attention. Body function is a reflection of the efficiency of each organ in your body. This includes, but is not limited to, the heart rate, rate of oxygen uptake in the blood, resting metabolic rate, waist-hip ratio and body fat percentage. Studied independently, these parameters are just numbers and values, but studied in tandem with one another, they paint a picture of the system at large.
We follow a method of assigning weights to each of these aspects, and the assigned weightage is unique to each individual depending on their major problem area. We take a data-driven, data-assisted approach to nutrition and health, which is why the health and fitness score serves as a good measure of progress. We measure this over a period of time.
The true benefit of this score comes to the fore when no change is visible to the naked eye. In a certain time period, you may find that you have not lost any weight in spite of sticking to your health plan. However, if you have been consistent, and we were to re-measure your HF score at this point, you will notice a significant improvement in the score. What this means is that bodily change may or may not be readily visible, but it continues to happen at a steady pace if you do your work. Even before visual changes come to the fore, your body changes on a fundamental level, and the change is visible to you as a concrete measure.
Isn’t that a much more inspiring way to approach fitness?