Countless people every day are starting a new exercise routine or starting a new diet, with the goal of losing weight. Weight is such a fickle idea; what is a healthy weight? What is the best way to lose weight? How can I drop the most weight in the shortest amount of time? So, what do we all do, we go out and buy a new scale believing that is the first step to staying on track to get to our goal body weight, but is that scale really a tool that is going to help on your journey? Or is it going to become an instrument that leads to failure?
Listen I get it, we all get it, diets suck. They just do, and no one enjoys going on them. Diets and new food cleanses have been around forever and they are not going anywhere anytime soon, because most of us always have goals in our minds and every few months we get enough motivation to once again start working towards that goal. Now, for most people, that goal is centered around an ideal body weight (aka a number on a scale), but does that number truly reflect what your goal is? You might tell me that you always feel and look your best when you are 20 pounds lighter, so in your mind you step on the scale and get the number you currently are and its simple the scale just needs to read 20 pounds lighter, ideally by the end of this blog post. What happens? You continue to step on the scale every day watching the number go down, then maybe up and then back down, and you get frustrated with yourself and begin to doubt that you can ever achieve that 20-pound goal. This brings me to the first reason the scale is your enemy. Your weight is going to bounce all around, especially in the beginning of any new program and diet. So many things go into what the scale will read from day to day, what you ate, how much water your drinking, did you just workout, did you miss a workout, the point is that number can be incredibly skewed from day to day and it will rarely tell you the whole story.
The whole story? Just what is the whole story, and where can I get a scale to tell me this story? Good question. First, let’s start with the story. Once upon a time…. Just kidding. The story I am talking about is what makes up the number you see on the scale. If I step on the scale and it reads 180lbs I might think I need to drop 10 pounds because I usually feel and look better at 170lbs, but what is making up that 180lbs? To have a true understanding of what you really want your body weight goal to be, we need to know how much 1. Body Fat we have on us and 2. How much lean muscle mass we have on us. If my only goal is to get down to 170lbs I could do it, just dust off some old wrestling techniques, ramp up the cardio, put a spin bike in the sauna, wear 3 sweatshirts in the gyms etc. Being much older and not much wiser I know that all I am doing is sacrificing muscle and water weight to hit that 170lb goal, which will leave my body fat mass the same, which will increase my body fat percentage. So, here’s the question, am I better at 170lbs and 25% Body Fat or at 180lb and 18% Body Fat? This brings up reason 2. The scale can work against you, just because the scale goes up or stays the same doesn’t mean you are not getting results, if you are dropping body fat mass and gaining muscle, then your weight might not move but your body fat % will lower, which is what our real goal is. It is a numbers game but do not get caught up in the wrong part of the game. Which brings me to my final reason to stay away from the scale.
Do not let the scale define you. Do not let numbers define you. Success can be measured in terms other than the number on the scale. If you have a weight loss goal of 20 pounds in 6 weeks, and you lose 18, but along with that you dropped 5% body fat, are you a failure? Hell No! In 6 weeks, you have just managed to lose weight, lose fat mass and gain muscle, not bad and no failure. If you go into a weight loss challenge and not reached your goal weight, but you are sleeping better, you have lost 3 inches and clothes fit better, would you not be happy about that? The point is, we tend to be concerned with just that one number a scale gives us, opposed to celebrating what we have truly accomplished.
Remember the number on the scale does not define you, you are not just a number and your fitness goals and weight goals is not something you just want to sprint towards. Take the time and do it right, so you only must do it once. Building a healthy lifestyle is a much better way to reaching and staying at your goals, then going through 3-month cycles of goal weight and not goal weight.