“I want to lose weight!” is the most common thing a personal trainer hears. Fact. Day in, day out people come to us and ask for the quickest way to lose weight, like it’s something that can be achieved at the click of a finger, the drinking of a shake or the taking of a tablet.
Look, plain and simple, if the weight didn’t go on overnight it isn’t coming off that fast either. Anyone who tells you differently is simply after your bank account.
And I get it, the act of seeing a number on the scale and then after exercise, diet or whatever you’ve done seeing that number come down is a motivator that cannot be ignored. Being able to track your progress and see results as the numbers drop is fantastic.
But what about those days when the scale goes the wrong way? Those days when you worked hard, are healthily, exercised and “did what you should” but still the scale decided to add a few ounces or pounds. These are the most challenging days you face.
There are several things that in my opinion are key for you to acknowledge and remember about why the number on the scales doesn’t matter. Here are a few of my top things for you to consider.
Your body composition is changing
Your body is basically made up of skin, blood, bone, fat and muscle. We can only really affect 2 of these: fat and muscle (although yes, your skin will grow/shrink with you).
Have you ever heard someone say, “muscle weighs more than fat”? This is not true. One pound of muscle weighs the same as one pound of fat.
As we exercise and eat healthily on a regular basis we can change the balance or ratio of fat to muscle in the body. Imagine this scenario:
You exercise 5 times per week. Over the space of 12 weeks you add 10 pounds of muscle onto your body, but at the same time you lose 10 pounds of fat from your body. Overall your weight is still the same, so your weighing scales will make you think that all that work was for nothing. What you haven’t noticed is that you are smaller! Your clothes are looser, you’re able to fit into a lower dress size or tighten your belt another notch. This is the biggest reason to ditch the sad step!
Focus more on the change in your size than your change in weight. Rather than weighing weekly, why not take measurements around your body each week? This will help you see where you are gaining or losing weight as time progresses. It will help you see the actual change in your shape and development rather than just the weight you carry. Take measurements around your chest (at the nipple line), upper arms at the biggest point, your forearms (again at the biggest point), your waist (belly-button level), hips (middle of your butt, widest point), upper thigh (including your inner thigh), and your calves. Record the differences between right and left too as these will at times change.
Your weight fluctuates daily
Male or female , your weight changes day to day. Sometimes it can be from fatigue slowing your body down, other times it’s because what you’ve eaten or drunk has not left the body yet. For women it depends on your phase of your monthly cycle. Water retention can add more weight to the scales, and this can be caused by you not drinking enough water or having a high salt intake. Drink more, consume less salt and whatever you do avoid weighing daily as this will only mess with your head! If you must weigh, do it once per week, ideally at the same time of day and wearing the same clothes (or hey, if you’re at home, naked if you prefer). This is how groups such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World work: weigh in with them once per week at the same session each week. In my opinion this is the only good thing they promote, but that’s for another blog post.
Your weight does not reflect your health
You can be fit and not healthy. You can be slim and not healthy. You can be heavy and in perfect physical health. The number shown on the scale is not truly indicitive of how healthy you are. Too many times we look at someones weight as an indicator of how their health is. Imagine a man who is 28 years old, 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs a little over 28 stone! What is your first thought about his health from his weight? I’m guessing you didn’t think he is too healthy. In this instance I am sorry but you’re wrong. These are the stats for Tom Stoltman, the current Worlds Strongest Man, an athlete that performs at the highest level and has proven his strength, conditioning and fitness at the highest level of his sport. Now I know I said you can be fit and not healthy, but this guy is both, trust me. What I am getting at is that you are not defined by the numbers on the scale, and the sooner you can free yourself from the restraints of lower numbers equal better health and happiness.
It can ruin your day
Watching your weight on the scales can make or break your day. Lost weight when you weigh? Result! You feel great and a sense of achievement runs through you. Gained weight? That’s it the day is ruined and you’re going to feel bad that all you’ve done hasn’t been good for you or moved that dial in the right direction. Don’t let it control your day. Save yourself the possible stress; stay off the sad step.
The scale doesn’t say anything about who you are
When you step on the scale you are weighing every tissue, cell, the food you ate and the glass of water you just drank. Realise the scale does not account for everything and the numbers do not show the bigger picture of fitness and health. Focus on YOUR happiness, your energy levels, and the things you love. THEN begin making the health changes you need such as a healthier diet or exercise routine. The weight will come off if you follow this approach, because the weight-loss is just a side effect of true health and happiness. Don’t forget to also focus on sleep and reduce stress levels as they can affect health and weight too.
So, there you have a 5 key concepts that to me justify NOT weighing all the time. The only time I personally have focused on my weight was when I was in competition with another trainer in a gym to be the first to gain weight to reach 15 stone while staying lean. Sadly he beat me, I was 2 pounds behind him. Since that time (Late 2016!) I haven’t really bothered to watch my weight. I just go by how I feel, clothes size and the occasional measurement. I’ve coached many clients to do this too and to break away from a weighing scale and the change in their development both physically and mentally has been profound!
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