I am not a big fan of the scale. I tell my clients all the time that it is just an arbitrary number and that unless you have a large amount of pure body mass to lose, it does not tell you the whole story in relation to your fitness levels. In other words, are you losing fat, muscle or water weight? If you paid attention to the ever-fluctuating number, you would never really know.
When we test our clients’ body fat, we have to obviously weigh them in order to calculate the results. I have seen one too many women lose over six inches and illustrate a decrease in body fat on every part of her body, according to the calipers, but as soon as they step on the scale, they become noticeably crushed. Why is that?
You lost inches. Your clothes fit better. Your body fat percentage went down. You are stronger than ever. You have more energy. You are sleeping better. People tell you that you look amazing and want to know what you are doing to get those results. BUT, the scale said 140 when you started, and it now reads 142. So, you are pissed.
I understand why. For so long, the scale was the only way most were gauging results. Most people are not measuring their own body fat. And, when you are a beginner, you may not have experienced how training aggressively and properly using weights, kettlebells, sleds, ropes, TRX and body weight work can increase your lean body mass while lowering fat. You will look smaller and tighter, but your weight may be unchanged.
So, why do we become obsessed with a certain number on the scale? Maybe it’s symbolic? May we weighed that number when in high school or on a wedding day? Other than that…what does that number really mean? Not a whole lot.
Helping women learn to see real results is a challenge. Here is something eye opening. I had a client who started training at my gym in October. She was 141 pounds and 20% body fat, which is pretty lean to start. On her last check in June, she was 141 pounds and 13% body fat. For her, that works. We have monitored her energy levels to make sure her body fat wasn’t too low, and she has been doing great. My point here is that the scale did not move one pound, and yet she lost 20 pounds of body fat and increased her lean muscle greatly. This is what most women want.
Now, muscle does not technically “weigh more than fat.” A pound is a pound, but it’s all in the structure of it. You could be 140 pounds and have 20% body fat, which would be 28 pounds of fat. That’s a really healthy, fit range for women. Or, you could be 130 pounds and 30% body fat, which is 39 pounds of fat.
Lighter on the scale but more body fat—which would you choose?
So how do we avoid the scale obsession and stop focusing on just that number, instead of all the awesome results that I listed above? You have to break the habit of stepping on the scale. This will not happen overnight. So in the meantime, every time you step on the scale, I want you to remember what the focus is. Is the focus to be as light as possible, or is it to be as lean, strong, athletic, energized and awesome as possible? I’d take the latter.
The other night, I had a client that absolutely killed it with her monthly check-in. She started training at our gym in March. In that time, she’s lost 18 pounds of body fat, and the scale was only down one pound. How is that possible you ask? She had very little muscle tone when she started. She lost fat and gained lean muscle. She is stronger, she looks awesome and she’s dropping fat and inches by the week. She also has an incredible attitude, because she doesn’t care one bit about the scale. She knows it’s all about body composition and that’s what we all need to strive toward.
Where To Focus Your Energy
How do you know you are doing the right stuff to get those awesome results and ditch the scale?
1. Lift weights 2-4 days each week
2. Perform 2 days of high intensity interval training: sprints, stadium sprints, bike sprints, jump rope
3. Eat lean protein, healthy fats and increase your carbs on the days you train
4. Drink 70-80 ounces of water each day
5. Sleep 7-9 hours a night
6. Be kind to yourself
If you have all of these things aligned, you will be able to say screw the scale and instead focus on the changes in your body and your mental happiness.
Leave a comment below if you have been able to break through this mindset and why you feel better about your results.