Ever weighed yourself in the morning? Then after you peed? Them weighed yourself after you showered? Then when you got home from work/school? Then after eating a big meal? Then before bed? Then after drinking 4 1.5L bottle of waters? Maybe you haven’t done all of those things in one day- but I used to. I was obsessed. And what I could never get through my thick skull was why I could exercise so much one day and eat really well- then the next day only be down 1 POUND? Are you serious? (PS- those are not my feet)
Or maybe you have been working out really hard and eating really well for a month then hopped on the scale- WHY AM I STILL THE SAME?! This is pointless!!! Why do I even bother? I might as well just eat crap all the time because nothing matters.
This is scale logic- and this is something that a lot of us suffered. Thankfully- I am in recovery and never really weigh myself anymore- and certainly I don’t give any value to the number when I decide to check it out.
I am finally at the stage where I am confidently say – the scale does NOT indicate any progress in my ‘Weight Loss” efforts. And I will tell you why…
First a little background info- when I was in grade 9- I had some pretty severe disordered eating habits. I remember weighing 149lbs at my lowest and I distinctly remember being a size 11 in Roxy clothes. I actually weighed myself right before I decided to write this- I weighed 179lbs and I currently wear a size 10…in Lulululemon. YES- I weigh almost 30lbs more and I wear a smaller size.
According to “Scale Logic” – HOW CAN THIS BE?
Some of you are familiar with the article “Attention Scale Addicts”. This is a piece written by a trainer named Jason that I have read to all of my bootcamp classes a number of times. There article is right here if you want to (SHOULD!!!) read: http://everydaypaleo.com/2011/06/12/attention-scale-addicts/
I used to weigh my clients with a Tanita Body Fat scale- this would include their weight, body fat and body water. I would also do clients measurements in 6 different sites. After reading “Attention Scale Addicts” about 3 times- I finally decided the scale was no longer invited to bootcamp. And I will tell you why:
Sometimes I would weigh people- and they would have lost NOTHING- but yet they would be down 6 inches. Sometimes I would measure people and they could have gotten BIGGER- yet lost weight. YET- Scenario A) This person would not be satisfied and Scenario b) this person wouldn’t care because at least they were down weight.
?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?! If I had a nickle- every time I have tried to reason with either of these people – I would be living in Cabo on the beach somewhere.
It made sense to me: measurements indicated you GOT smaller. If you are down a few pounds on the scale- it doesn’t necessarily mean the “weight” you lost was fat. It COULD be fat. Or it could be water. Or it could be MUSCLE. (See SKELETOR at the bottom)
So what makes up the number on the scale anyways? Muscle, Fat, Water & Bone. So what happens when you drink a crap load of water then weigh yourself? You increase your body mass. Now- just to split hairs: you can also do MANY things to alter your body water. So..let’s say you are in a competition- such as MMA, etc.- where you have to be a certain weight: there are many things you can do to change how much you WEIGH with some help. Some of these practices are very common: here is how someone lost 30 lbs in 24 hours by altering their body water: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2008/01/18/how-to-cut-weight/ (DO NOT DO THIS!!!!)
So anyways- to get an idea of what makes up your body composition- I found this image on Pinterest. Neat eh?
Muscle also plays a significant factor because your muscle is made up mostly of water. Muscle is much more DENSE then fat- which explains why a strength training program combined with a balanced low sugar diet- often results in losing INCHES via measurements- but not necessarily changing the number on the scale.
I thought this myth was dispelled a long time ago- but it needs to be said: 99% of women- do not “bulk” up. In the event that someone was gaining inches (which would not be attributed to diet) – it would likely that this woman was doing high volume training. Aka- lifting a light weight- MANY times. In fact- women who lift very very very HEAVY weight- train a different pathway and they often don’t gain size.
And while we are at it: BMI means nothing either. Here’s why:
If you are wanting to make some legit lifestyle changes and approach fat loss from a healthier stand point, How would one do this?
Immediately- reduce the amount of sugar you are consuming. Sugar – which is your candy, donuts, chocolate bars- but also certain foods that are high carbohydrate are converted to sugar: potatoes, bread, pasta, rice, fruit, etc. This converts to fat when un-used. By reducing the total number of carbohydrates you are consuming- you are allowing your body to use stored body FAT for energy. Dropping your carbohydrates too quickly is a surefire way to experience a crash- which will in turn- make you want sugar more. I would recommend dropping the processed foods first- bread, pasta, candy, etc
My second tip would be to re-evaulate the exercise you are doing. Muscle = a fired up metabolism and a leaner body. Cardio in a prolonged elevated state won’t help your fat loss efforts, but I shall save this for another day.
Bottom line – Do not weigh yourself. Do not measure your progress by the number on the scale. Your jeans are the BEST indicator- but take some picture! Put on your swimsuit, take some pictures standing in the same spot every 2 weeks. Compare those photos- but note that it takes some time for a shift in body composition. And to quote Dallas and Melissa Hartwig “What the scale says is not important right now. This is not about weight loss, this is about health, sanity, grace. Do not allow the scale to determine your self-worth during this time period. You deserve better.”