Weight gain goal
Last week I was out of town on with some friends and we did some hiking and climbing. It was fantastic to get away from the city and away from social media and the various other distractions of the contemporary urban world.
A topic that came up over dinner one night was how Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport Syndrome, known by the acronym RED-S, is a major issue in the world of climbing. This is a symptom that arises when people have a sustained deficiency in calories combined with a highly active lifestyle. Over time this can lead to very serious health issues as the body is essentially starved of what it needs. Because many people in sports are otherwise healthy, and the worst downsides are felt in the longer term, this is an easy issue for many to overlook. There are health experts who are calling for the sports governing bodies to do more about raising awareness of this issue.
I have been climbing on and off for the last 20 odd years and recently have been doing so more frequently as a counterbalance to the far more sedentary work I've been doing. Climbing is a body weight related sport. There's a huge number of people who have issues with food in the sport and in the extreme cases there are full blown eating disorders. I've seen a few cases of people starving themselves in an attempt to climb harder over the years, either I didn't notice it as much before but this issue is still around. Being extremely far from your healthy natural body weight is a major health issue and I'm sure in the current cultural climate people are vastly underestimating the risks of poor nutrition.
I'm both very tall and very heavy for a climber. Much of this comes down to my build, I'm considerably heavier than I look. There's been some people who've said that I'm good at climbing slabs but honestly I think that's mostly just because my weight isn't anywhere near as much of a disadvantage as it is on more steeply overhanging terrain.
Despite all this I have no intention of losing weight, in fact I have a goal to gain a few kilograms. I plan to do this only with healthy foods, the goal here is health after all and not some number on a scale, it would be as counterproductive as it would be easy to put on weight by eating junk. The main reason is that better nutrition has been having a remarkably good impact on my mental capacity. I'm probably 150 ELO points stronger at chess without really changing anything else. As someone who'll be known for their intellectual achievements and not their sporting achievements it's obvious to me that I have to do what's in the best interests of maintaining my peak mental performance. Part of that is of course getting regular exercise, but I'm going to make sure that the regular exercise doesn't lead to pressures that get in the way of my mental performance.