Scale Addiction

Our society is obsessed with the scale and numbers in general.  We put entirely too much focus on a number, which granted, we were born into. Think about it. The first thing they do when a child is born is weigh them ... and we have been focused on it since.  But the scale only measures your weight, which is the amount of force gravity has on your body here on earth.  How is it possible that this can be a true measure of your health and wellness?

As a coach and fitness professional, I struggled to get clients to see the" bigger" picture on a daily basis. I have actually been punched by a client who didn't lose weight even though she lost 9 inches in her waist! 

I have a blob of fat in my office that weighs five pounds, and it takes up a lot of space in comparison to a five pound dumbbell. When clients first come to see me, I tell them that I want them to lose five pounds of fat but gain five pounds of muscle (a pound of muscle takes up much less space than the blob of fat but they actually "weigh" the same).  Most people hesitate when I tell them to gain five pounds - what could I possibly mean by that? Well, for starters, the first thing people do when trying to lose weight is weigh themselves daily, even multiple times. The next thing they do is restrict calories, because the logic is eat less and lose weight, which is true, BUT when you restrict calories and only use the scale you could be losing muscle.  

Muscle is our metabolism and muscle needs food to grow.  So when we do this we lose valuable muscle and lose weight in the short term, but when a person returns to previous eating habits they usually end up fatter because of the loss of muscle.

The best method is to measure your LEANNESS with a tape measure.  No matter how much you eat or drink this method doesn't lie.  It will also show you if you are losing fat and not just losing weight. They are really inexpensive but very effective in seeing where the loss is occurring. Measure in multiple places and make sure to write these numbers down. I put them in my training log so I can look back years to see my numbers. 

Another common mistake is putting too much focus only on cardio to stay lean.  This allows you to lose muscle as too much cardio and calorie restriction lead to muscle loss. Face it, most people hit the gym or workout for vanity reasons, not just health. If we want to look good, stay lean and be healthy, we need to strength train and do high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, not just hours of cardio.  Strength training is also really important for menopausal women. After the age of 35 women naturally atrophy about 3% of muscle a year, so if you don't strength train you will be getting fatter as you get older even if the scale doesn't change.  Who wants that?

So in short, throw the scale away. Learn to listen to your body, work out harder and smarter, not necessarily longer, eat cleaner and measure yourself instead. Next time you see someone who is clearly "leaner" tell them that they look healthy or WOW  I love how much muscle you have gained. It looks good on you. Don't ask them if they are losing weight. Maybe we can change our society one person at a time for the healthier!

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