From my many, many years working as a trainer, one thing is clear. Most people who use the gym want to look good – and why not? Vanity isn’t all that bad. It is not a sin, and I would even go as far to say that a little pride in your appearance is a good thing. But it should not be the only reason you want to reduce body fat.
What if I was to tell you that there is a gland in your body which produces substances linked with causing cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, blindness, limb loss and generally a reduced life expectancy? What if I then said that this gland can be removed in a non-evasive, painless and free procedure, and removing it will not be detrimental to you at all? Theeeen, as the kicker, what if I said removing this gland will lead to you looking fantastic, especially naked, and assist you in building lean tissue in the future (think nice muscle size for men, and lithe, toned muscles in women), plus give you loads more energy and a new zest for life? You’d want rid right? Well, that’s what excess body fat is. The role of fatty tissue goes beyond insulating us on cold nights and filling in the gaps in our jeans.
Fat tissue acts as part of your endocrine system. Your endocrine system is a collection of glands that secrete hormones into your blood stream. Your pancreas for example secretes insulin (amongst others). Fatty tissue acts like a gland. It sends out signals (via hormones and other cell signalling molecules) to the rest of the body, controlling how it functions. If these signals are distorted (via an imbalance or malfunctioning of hormones) the body (at a cellular level) will not function correctly. This is when bad things happen. By reducing your body fat levels your body will simply work better.
When we have fat above a ‘normal’, healthy level we are exposing ourselves to all kinds of health risks. Losing fat should not just be about fitting into a pair of jeans, or taking your top off at the beach. If you have excess fat, there is a far higher chance that you will suffer from something horrible later on in life. All of the things I listed earlier in this post can be linked to above normal levels of body fat.
To make it explicitly clear, you DO NEED fat, just not in excess. Fatty tissue plays an important role in the body and aiming to go ‘super-low’ with your body fat will also have health complications. Like most things, balance is key.
So, beyond looking great this Summer, consider the long term implications of eating well and exercising regularly. Give yourself the best chance possible of living a long, healthy and happy life.