The scale is your enemy. It is not your friend. No other “health” product has caused so much physical destruction and mental pain than this simple contraption that measures the force of gravity on your body. How much do you weigh? Probably the most irrelevant statistic of your health.
Why is Your Weight So Important?
I’ll have to admit that the topic of “weight” had faded to the back of my mind until lately. It wasn’t until I started hearing about some of my wife’s clients’ concerns (hi ladies!) that I remembered how big of an issue weight is in our society. Perhaps it’s because of the ease by which you can take a measurement, or maybe it’s a result of our celebrity culture. Whatever the case of weight’s prevalence in our society, you need to start focusing less on weight loss, and more on fat loss.
Your weight fluctuates by several pounds a day. I drop up to 5 pounds from the time I go to bed to when I wake up in the morning. I can drop 10 pounds in a week just by eliminating carbs from my diet. This weight means absolutely nothing. It will be put right back on the moment I start drinking water or adding carbs back into my diet. Losing water is not what makes you look better – losing fat does.
There are many other reasons for why your weight changes, but the biggest reason is because weight also measures the amount of water mass on your body. No other nutrient can fluctuate as rapidly or drastically as water. Using the bathroom, sweating, drinking water, changing your carbohydrate intake, increasing your glycogen stores, changes in electrolytes, and for women – changes in your cycle, can all create huge swings in how much water you’re holding, and thus your weight.
Measure Body Composition Instead
If you want a better measurement of your health and fitness level, you need to start paying more attention to body composition. This is simply the ratio of fat to fat-free mass of your body. The problem? It’s much less convenient, and more time consuming to do these measurements. Most of the time, it takes a second person to help you take this measurement, and for many people, this is a deal breaker.
Getting your body composition measured is a very intimate process. After all, you usually either have to let a stranger pinch your fat (embarrassing), or you need to strip down to have it measured by a machine of some sort. Luckily, it is possible to do a 3 point skin caliper test yourself, but it’s less accurate than the 7 point.
The good news? You don’t have to measure your body fat percentage often, and there are other ways to measure your weight loss progress (tape measure, mirror, body fat calipers, etc). And in case you’re wondering, there is no calculator where you can enter your height and weight and get your body fat percentage, nor is there any kind of scale that will accurately provide this number either.
Don’t Let the Scale Control You
Do yourself a favor. Take your scale and put it out of site, and don’t get it out to weigh yourself for the next month. Does this seem hard to you? If it does, then the scale is controlling you, and you have an unhealthy obsession with weight. At the end of the month, you can take it out and weigh yourself.
However, you’re not weighing yourself because you care about your weight, you’re doing it because you need this number to calculate you total fat mass and lean body mass from your body fat caliper readings. Because really, that’s the only thing a scale is good for – helping to measure different types of mass (fat and fat-free).
Don’t get discouraged if your weight goes up and beyond the arbitrary ceiling you set for yourself. I know how frustrating it can be to see that number go up when you’re working your butt off. Just know that what you’re really trying to accomplish is not weight loss per se, but improved body composition and health. Once you grasp that concept, you can turn the scale into a motivational tool instead of the dream-breaker you currently see it as.