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Ditch the Scale!

Ditch the Scale!

By Kristen Durnan

 

I have touched upon this topic many times, but it is an important subject that I run into a lot.  The topic to which I am referring is: fat loss versus weight loss, and at the heart of this issue is the scale.

 

Many of us monitor our success through the scale.  Whether we are trying to get into shape for the summer, or want to finally fit back into those pants from freshman year of college, we think the only way to gauge that is through the scale, and that is simply not true.  I have several pairs of pants from college that fit me now at over ten pounds heavier than I was then, because I have built a lot more muscle than what I had in college.  Do I have the “perfect, ideal” body?  Probably not to a lot of people based on physical appearance, but I do have a body that is capable of doing everyday tasks, so it is ideal for me.  The scale does not tell me that though.

 

Weight loss is nice on the surface, because you see a number on the scale going down and that validates your work from the previous day or week.  That is not the whole picture though.  When you only lose weight, it can be from a variety of other things including muscle loss, or dehydration.  When you lose muscle or become dehydrated, your body is not functioning at its optimum level.  The scale does not inform as to why weight drops.

 

And what happens when that number is not dropping?  Does that mean that all of those hours on the elliptical and all of those days spent eating the same meals everyday, totaling in 1000 calories for the day, was for nothing? (Please note this is sarcastic, and I do not ever recommend this!The scale not dipping could be due to a million things such as: bloating (for women, hey hormones!), insufficient calorie supply causing your body to go into starvation mode and retain fat, building muscle (this is a good thing!), or because your body is at a healthy weight. 

 

People say muscle weighs more than fat.  The fact is, a pound is a pound, but a pound of muscle takes up less space and burns more calories at rest than a pound of fat.  Therefore, when you are lifting heavy weights, you will begin to build muscle and may notice the scale isn’t changing, or even going up, yet your clothes are fitting.  That is great!  That means you are building a healthy body that is capable of lifting things up and putting them down. 

 

muscle-vs-fat

 

Ladies, you will not get “big” because you are lifting and building muscle.  You will only get big when you are over consuming crappy, processed food.  Women do not have enough testosterone to bulk up the way men can.  I have had one female client, out of over 100s of women I have worked with, who felt she built muscle at a greater rate than she burned fat.  Due to that, she gave up after only two months, when in reality, a few tweaks in her diet could have changed that.

 

The scale is not a measure of success or self-worth.  Out of all of the measurements one can take to monitor their progress, the scale is the least accurate.  If you feel compelled to monitor your goals with a number, why not use a tape measure to see the inches shedding everywhere, or a bodyfat monitor to watch your body fat percentage drop?  Or better yet, set workout goals (such as lifting a higher weight, running a faster pace, or achieving a new yoga pose) and use those as your barometer?  Clothes are usually a great indicator of success, as are progress pictures.  All of these are more accurate than the number on the scale at indicating your success.

 

I asked five of my friends, who all workout and have very different approaches to exercise, the following questions:

 

What is your favorite exercise/workout and why?

Do you workout to reach a specific goal (if so what is that goal) or do you workout for health (or both)?

 

The main thing I took away from their responses is that whatever form of exercise they enjoy, it is partially because it reduces stress.  It is scientifically proven that exercise relieves stress, so why are we still weighing ourselves?  There was also a similarity in that, though a few had other goals as well, they all workout for their overall health.  The scale does not reflect health.  Toss the scale.

 

If you want to verify my synopsis of their responses, I have added them below…

 

K: “I love running for the endorphins, peace and it is relaxing for me.  I used to run to reach a goal but now I do it more for health/sanity.  I like bootcamp/crossfit type workouts for the push, competition and “full body workout feel.”  I usually do these workouts for health purposes – to work all the muscles.

A:  My favorite exercises are yoga and swimming because they are both low impact and help clear my mind.  For a good sweat or when I’m having a bad day, I really enjoy kickboxing.  There’s nothing better than jumping around to good music while picturing kicking the crap out of somebody!  When all else fails, I make sure I get a good walk once a day with my dog.  To me, walking is one of those great “I’m exercising even though I don’t think I’m exercising” activities. I exercise because I don’t like how my body feels when I don’t.  It makes me happier, helps relieve stress, I eat better when I exercise and I’m in an all around better mood.  Seems like the ultimate medicine to me! 

C: My favorite right now is doing T25 and insanity.  However, I would say in those programs my favorite thing is the cardio days.  I prefer the cardio because of the rush during and after.  Also, I feel like I push myself more during cardio.  I workout for both reasons.  My goal is just to be more comfortable with myself and in hopes to permanently maintain a healthier lifestyle.

J: Favorite exercises are boot camp because it covers cardio and strength training and it’s always different.  I’ve gotten really good results in terms of endurance and muscle/strength definition.  Cardio boxing: I hate it while I’m doing it but I love the stress relief; and yoga because this challenges strength in a different way and brings me some calm.  I workout for health.. while I did join this {bootcamp} challenge as I noticed my pants becoming tighter my overall reason is to maintain my health.

R: It’s hard to say which is a favorite because the few I will mention as a “top 3” are all important in different aspects. I’d have to start off by saying running because it gets me the most sweaty and I can really tell I’ve worked hard getting my heart rate up and making my muscles stronger. It’s also such an individual and mental workout and you have full control of what you do and how you do, so I love running. With that said, I think it’s just as important to strengthen muscles and not just work on cardio. A great way to get an all around workout plus some cardio is bootcamp. This got me really into strength training for all over my body, not just the basic few over and over again, adding in spirits of cardio that wasn’t running. To balance everything out, I love a good yoga class!

 

I work out mainly for my health. To be healthy and stay healthy. When I started bootcamp the intention was to become more healthy and active and try something different. With it came weight loss and strength, and feeling better overall, thus I want to maintain my healthy workouts and thus the cycle begins. But really it’s to be healthy.


dtsfi

 

Meet Kristen

I am a NASM educated Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, & Women’s Fitness Specialist.  I love running, lifting, pretty much all exercise, and nutrition, which I am excited to utilize as a means to help others.  Each day we can take small steps to better our bodies, inside and out.  Follow along to find advice on exercise, recipes, and tribulations I encounter in my own training and life!

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