Somewhere along the way, striving to become fitter and healthier become synonymous with the words ‘weight loss’. It’s caused a focus in the health and fitness industries on the number that pops up on the scales – and for some people striving to ‘lose weight’, that number can begin to control their lives. This is not what it should all be about!
That number doesn’t define you
That number on its own doesn’t give a complete picture of the lifestyle you are leading, nor is it an indicator of whether you are healthy or not. Think about it – some skinny, lightweight people are unhealthy, and some heavy people are incredibly fit and healthy (All Blacks! All that muscle!).
That number can fluctuate throughout the day depending on how much you eat and drink, and whether you’re holding any water retention (plus it can also reflect the bloating feeling you get when it’s that time of the month).
So if that number never remains consistent, why are we so obsessed with it? Is it time to ditch your scales?
Measuring your success in a better way
Body fat percentage, good old tape measurements, and the way you look and feel are all better ways of measuring your success. Although some of the better quality scales may be worth your while if they can measure body fat, muscle mass etc., your average household scales are unlikely to do this and may be doing more harm to your cause than good. So many people give up on their brand new exercise regimes because the scales don’t tell them what they want to see.
Weeks of hard work slogging it out at the gym, eating healthier and making positive lifestyle changes, can all be thrown out the window if the scales show the same number they originally did, or show your weight has increased. After all, what’s the point in all that effort if nothing’s happening? But something is happening and your body is noticing, even if the scales aren’t.
Muscle vs fat – what would you rather have?
Muscle is heavier and takes up less room than fat. As your body responds to your new gym regime and your muscles grow stronger, your lean muscle mass increases and your fat begins to burn off/decrease. This means that you may be a little heavier from your muscles growing, however your measurements will be getting smaller. This isn’t the time to get discouraged and quit! If you give up now, your goal of improving your health, fitness and appearance is just going to get further away. And remember, this ‘adjustment’ period is usually around six weeks (incidentally, this is also the amount of time it takes before most people give up on their new exercise regimes…).
Reset your goals
Ditch the goal of seeing a specific number on the scales, and replace it with something more positive. Can you run around the block without stopping? Can you do 20 pressups in a row? Are you feeling more energetic during your day? How do your clothes feel? What’s tight now may be looser in six weeks’ time.
If you really feel the need to weigh yourself or you’ve been told to reach a certain weight for medical reasons, make sure you don’t jump on the scales every day – if you’re eating healthy and keeping active, your body won’t have any choice but to change its appearance, you may just need to give it a bit of time.
The key here is maintaining perspective – changes to your body won’t happen overnight and it’s important to focus on the bigger picture; a healthier happier you in the future!
Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – David Castillo Dominici