"I don't see why you are starving yourself. Why don't you people just compete at whatever you weigh?"
Now, for many reasons, including referring to the athletes on the team as 'you people', this person was an idiot.
|1984 World Team Photo. Thanks to Jean Kanokogi
Recently, someone else, definitely not an idiot who recently brought up the question of why people can't compete at their walking around weight is mixed martial artist Roxanne Modafferi.
So, let me answer that question:
It's somewhat like the prisoner's dilemma. In case you don't know, that is a problem where acting in your best interest depends on knowing what other people will do. The typical example is two people arrested for a crime and offered a bargain - confess and testify against your partner for a lighter sentence. If neither of you confess, both of you may go free. However, if you don't confess and your partner in crime does, you'll get a longer sentence.
How does this relate to making weight? Well, if NO ONE cuts weight, then if you go in at your 'walking around weight', you can expect to be about equal in strength and size to your competition.
However, if you don't cut weight and your opponent does, you may weigh 125 pounds and be fighting someone who normally weighs 140 pounds but did not eat for two days before the weigh-in and sweated off 10 pounds by jogging in the sauna. If you are close to equal in skill and conditioning, that extra 11% in size your opponent has can be the tipping point.
Since everyone assumes that their competitors will be cutting weight, everyone cuts weight.
Almost everyone. In the picture above, the person to my left is Lynn Roethke. We weighed the exact same weight and Lynn competed at 61 kg, the division above me. If you asked me (and you ARE reading my blog), her biggest asset was her speed, which was an even bigger asset in a heavier division. I wasn't that much faster than the average person, but I was stronger, which is an even bigger advantage in a lighter division.
So, not EVERYONE cuts weight, but everyone does seek to optimize their advantages, which usually involves cutting weight. Certainly, as an athlete, there is zero advantage to having extra fat on you.
Speaking of idiots ... I have been hearing nonsense all of my life about how cutting weight, or even competing in sports, causes women to be sterile, have miscarriages, etc. No. It doesn't.
The eight women on that team had 13 children, that I know of. I'm pretty sure there were more than 13 but I haven't kept in contact with everyone. The two who didn't have children never married because, as far as I know, they never felt like it.
Yes, if your body fat percentage drops too low, you quit having your period. It's not a permanent condition! Once you put weight back on, you start up again and if you follow the normal procedure for these things (ask your mom to explain it to you), presto - baby!
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