The first bathroom scale is thought to have been introduced to man nearly 4000 years ago in the Middle East (imagine what the bathrooms looked liked!). I wonder if women were as obsessed as we are now with how much they weighed. Curious…
Have you convinced yourself that you “should” weigh a certain weight (and I bet it might be pretty arbitrary…like what you weighed when you were 21). Have you forgotten about how it feels to actually “feel” good, or better yet, “look” good…or are you so consumed by reaching that number on the scale that when people tell you that you look good or when you have loads of energy, you dismiss them because you didn’t see that “perfect little number” on the scale this morning?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’ve been lied to. Sorry to break it to you, but you have been played for a fool. By a scale. Yes, a stupid little machine that takes up space next to your toilet.
And you even trusted it enough to get naked for it!
We regularly track body composition measurements for each of our clients as a measure of their progress and to make any adjustments to their lifestyle routine if necessary. We take their body measurements (upper back, arm, waist, hips, and thigh) as well as their body fat percentage (we use a body fat monitor as well as ultrasound technology). Notice that we never take their “weight.” I spend a lot of time helping our clients understand the importance of focusing on their body composition and not solely on the number on the scale. I’ll tell you why in a bit.
You see, there are five major factors that affect your weight…and understanding that they all play a role is important, especially if you’re finding yourself frustrated.
The 5 major factors that impact your body composition include (in no specific order because they all play a role..it’s not just “eat less, exercise more”):
But first, I want to tell you three lies that the scale tells you on a regular basis, so you can be empowered with knowledge before you jump on that scale next time.
When you drop weight after a week of “dieting” or severe calorie-restriction, the scale doesn’t tell you that you’ve mostly shed excess water weight and precious muscle…NOT necessarily BODY FAT. Bummer. This is why yo-yo dieting never, never, never works and why you are frustrated, frustrated, frustrated because you can’t seem to “maintain” a healthy weight range.
The scale fails to tell you what that number actually means. Your body composition is what makes up your total body weight, including water, body fat, muscle, organs and tissues, and your skeletal system. When you weigh on a standard scale, the number includes the total weight of all of these components. This number can often fluctuate for a few reasons, often +/- 5 pounds each day. It can change depending on hormonal levels during the month (especially for women), increased or decreased muscle mass, change in body fat, water retention/loss, temperature, change in habits, along with lack of sleep (which can lead to overeating).
It does not give you a complete picture of how good you feel or how healthy you actually are. Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t completely discount our total weight. It can be used as a baseline to our overall health. If you’re remaining consistent with a fitness routine and generally a well-balanced eating routine, your focus seems to shift from the scale to how you’re looking and feeling. I can almost guarantee if you asked 10 fitness trainers or athletes if they ever weigh themselves, I bet 8 out of 10 say they don’t. Why? Because they LISTEN TO THEIR BODY. They know when they’re off track or lacking energy or if they’ve packed on a few extra fat pounds. They don’t need a scale to tell them.
Here is a real-life example of how the number on the scale can be very misleading, and I hope this gives you a better picture of what I’m talking about.
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE:
The Story of the Two 150-Pound Women
(be sure to use your imagination to picture each these women)
Woman #1 stats:
Background: She does not exercise consistently, yo-yo diet*s, wears a size 10-12 pants, and hates her muffin-top, and that spare tire around her waist.
Total Body Weight: 150 pounds
Total Body Fat: 52.5 pounds (35% of her total body weight – an unhealthy body fat percentage)
Total Lean Mass (muscle, skeletal mass, organs, water, etc.): 97.5 pounds
Woman #2 stats:
Background: She exercises consistently, eats well balanced and nutritiously (she probably even splurges occasionally), wears a size 6-8 pants, has a lean waistline and very little “bulge.”
Total Body Weight: 150 pounds
Total Body Fat: 37.5 pounds (25% of her total body weight…and a healthy body fat percentage)
Total Lean Mass: 112.5 pounds
If you saw these two women walking next to each other, you may never guess they weighed exactly the same when they get on a scale. You would likely judge Woman #1 as significantly heavier than 150 pounds. However, Woman #2 may actually look like she weighs 30 pounds less because her muscle tone and healthy body fat levels makes her smaller, fitter, and leaner.
Which one would you rather be? Woman #1 or Woman #2…
MORAL OF THE STORY…SCALES LIE AND DO NOT TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH!
Don’t use the scale as the only measurement of your success. Focus on how you feel in your clothes, your energy, your sleep, your mood…and your confidence. Avoid weighing daily – weigh once a week at most. You will know if you have gained body fat when you look in the mirror or if those pants feel a little tighter than they did last winter. You will also know if your body composition has changed if those pants feel a bit looser.
Free yourself from being a slave to the scale…it may not be an easy habit to break at first, but it will be the most liberating feeling when you finally do!
And by the way….
Who else looks at that number other than you and maybe your doctor? Why do your friends or even your husband need to know your weight?
If the topic of conversation of “weight” comes up frequently with your friends, you need to change the subject quickly (because nothing good can come of a conversation about weight).
As part of the Body Project community, you’ve already taken the first step to a path of success.
Maybe one day we should have a “scale-burning” party 🙂
Committed to your success…no matter what you weigh,