Scales are ok as one measurement of success but only one of many. People who know me well know I have a thing with scales.
Before I knew much about them (at all!) I was a chronic ‘weigher’ every single day. I would jump on before every shower in the morning. I based that little number on the scale on how well I was doing in fitness and frankly I am ashamed to admit as well on my general health. I am happy to admit though that I knew nothing back then about scales, what they were measuring and how the number on that scale had absolutely NOTHING to do with my health and my level of fitness!
My memories 15 plus years ago would suggest that people in general knew very little about the correlation of ‘weight’, health and fitness…. I could be wrong about this but I am talking from my own experience and point of view- maybe you could comment below and let me know whether it was the same for you or not. Here are a couple of memories I have:
We were a generation (it seemed) obsessed with scales. I hope so much that we have moved on even if just a little as I am certain the obsession with scales has had a really negative effect on people and developed bad relationships with food. Look at the articles below.... none are helping anyones relationship with food or educating them in nutrition whatsoever.
Look at the pictures below....
Article 1 - 'How I lost 10lb in 10 days!'
It is completely unrealistic and horrendous for your health to lose 10lb in a week. You would have had to have severe water retention to lose that in the first place or just completely starve for a week. Not good.
Article 2 - Comparing celeb weights.
This article stated, 'Don't compare yourself to celebs'. Actually, by posting pictures of them and their weight, readers will AUTOMATICALLY compare! It is natural! There really is no point to this article! The 'weights' are made up anyway!
Article 3 - 'Lose 5lb in 7 days just by getting enough of this weight loss vitamin'
this kind of rubbish can be saved for another blog. *face plant emoji !!!
I know we haven’t fully moved on and scales DO have their place at times. I still have friends, colleagues and clients who still will state happily ‘I lost 3kg this week!’ after deciding to increase exercise levels and cut down on calories. The next week they may have gained 1kg and it seems like they’ve lost all hope with their healthier lifestyle. ‘It’s not working, I may as well not bother’ are words I have heard and been so frustrated with.
So, if you are a ‘weigher’ and you feel that sudden dread before stepping on a scale, if you feel down if the number on the scale has gone up, if you weigh yourself more than once every few weeks, here are things to bear in mind and I hope you can take away something from this blog:
1. They measure your gravitational pull to the earth and not how healthy you are. You can weigh 9 stone but be incredibly unfit, unhealthy, have a high body fat % etc Scales weigh everything included in your gravitational pull – bones, water, muscle, organs, food you ate recently and wastage…!
2. When you initially lose weight on a health and fitness regime after overeating and not exercising for a long time, the initial “weight” loss can be really high. That’s great, expected and never anything to frown upon. The one thing you need to bear in mind is this “weight” can be a huge amount of water retention that the body would have been holding on to. You just need to not expect this much weight loss every week from there on in. You may at times gain ‘weight’ on the scales… there is nothing wrong with that!
3. Scales don’t measure how great you feel although sometimes seeing a number drop can instantly give you a buzz. The only thing is, sometimes that number won’t drop or will even go up. If you weigh yourself every week this could happen so it should just be expected. As I said before I used to be a chronic “weigher”, I have experienced this!
4. When scales don’t go down there are a number of reasons why and it isn’t because you’re over-eating. If you’ve been sticking to a varied nutritionally beneficial diet, balanced with exercise and lots of water, scales still may not drop. That could be because you’re developing muscle tissue. 1lb of muscle and 1lb of fat look very different in terms of space they take up. 1lb of fat takes up a lot more space than 1lb of muscle in your body. Therefore, taking pictures in this case is a MUCH better method of measuring success.
When should we be using scales?
Doctors use scales to get your BMI measurement. Whilst I also don’t agree with ‘BMI’ measuring, it has got it’s place in some circumstances. (Again, my opinion and happy to discuss in the comments!)
Male, 30, 5’10. 100kg/220lb Rugby Player.
High amount of muscular strength and muscular endurance. He runs around in games twice a week, goes to the gym 4 times a week, goes running once a week. Classed as obese according to BMI calculations.
Male, 30, 5’10, 100kg/220lb. receptionist.
Never goes to the gym. Gets 3000 steps a day on average. Classed as obese according to BMI calculations.
This is the reason I am not a fan. However, BMI here works for client B, they clearly do need a small intervention into their lifestyle. Client A however will know that a huge percentage of their body weight is in fact muscle and they don’t actually need to worry about changing their lifestyle.
These are extreme case comparisons but I hope it enables at least one person to understand that sclales, BMI etc are not completely accurate in predicting how healthy or unhealthy each individual is.
I’m not saying ditch the scales entirely (although I would love you to!) it’s just being aware of them, understanding what they are weighing.
The best advice I can give is weigh yourself just as a side note. For example if you are female and you started the year as a size 22 and you are now a size 16 you don’t need scales to know you’ve lost excess body fat. You probably feel amazing. The scales may not show much difference but you know what a massive positive difference you have make on your health and your life.
Just keep taking pictures, going on how your clothes feel and noticing how GREAT you feel. REMEMBER if you’re losing inches and not losing weight- that is a fantastic thing! ENJOY the process!
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PT, Teacher and Mum. Currently living in South East Asia. Thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do.