Recalibrating Our Pursuit Of Leanness

Body fat has become the villain of modern culture. True, many modern diseases have their roots entwined with excessive caloric intakes and weight gain but for many thousands of years the ability to store energy for later use was an important factor in our survival. A few extra pounds could have meant the difference between life and death.

Thanks to magazines, photoshop, social media and other sources of fitness inspiration extreme leanness has become the in vogue body shape of today. Someone with single digit body fat is now widely regarded to be in peak condition.

However, outside a small percentage of the population, extreme leanness is a hard feat to achieve requiring intense dietary and exercise dedication. Furthermore trying to rid our body of every last fat cell can easily become counterproductive to our overall health, psyche, energy levels and performance. Many of the models we see in the popular media will only sustain their look for a small window of time for these exact reasons.

As this crude graph demonstrates at extremely low levels of body fat our health can suffer. A similar story unfolds as we develop higher and higher levels of body fat.

Like with most things there is an optimal dose. Towards the beginning of the curve, though importantly not right at the beginning, lies the sweet spot where most of us will enjoy the optimal blend of health and body composition benefits.

The goods news is these sweet spots, when compared to the pursuit of extreme leanness, are relatively easy to obtain through the consistent application of intense exercise, regular movement, good food choices and mindful eating. There is typically no need to weigh and measure meals, no need to tally-up every calorie spent exercising, no need to abstain from the occasional pig-out with friends. Just simple, basic habits.

Naturally we all have our own motivations but this seems like a better pursuit to me.