We obsess over it. We stay awake at night overcome with anxiety thinking about it. We allow it to define who we see ourselves as. “It” is that little number that pops up on the scale when we step on. It’s not an indicator of our overall health. It’s not an indicator of our fitness abilities. It’s not even an indicator of our body composition. That little number on the scale is simply displaying our relationship with gravity. Nothing more, nothing less.
Forget What You’ve Heard
The greater the mass of your body, the higher the number on the scale. Traditionally, people associate a higher mass with negative connotations. The commonplace of the BMI measurement has further skewed peoples’ ideas about their weight. As an example of how skewed BMI is, using the prescribed calculations, Lance Armstrong would be considered overweight and Mike Tyson, in his 19-year old prime, would have been considered obese. Two of the top athletes of our generation considered overweight and obese, by BMI. Think it might be time to find a new way to gauge your weight/health?
A Body Comparison
You see, muscle will always weigh more than fat. Completely healthy, toned, and athletic individuals will have a higher proportion of muscle mass than their un-athletic, soft, and sedentary counterparts. This extra muscle will obviously make the number on the scale higher. Look at it like this: a 140-lb woman with 15% body fat will look a heck of a lot better than a 140-lb woman with 27% body fat. The scale says they both weigh 140 pounds despite the fact they look nothing alike.
The composition of your body (or your physique) is a more accurate judge of how fit you are. Unfortunately, people forget this and allow the scale to ruin themselves. They stop lifting weights, stop eating properly, and start obsessing when they aren’t getting the “scale results” they want. What they should really be doing is continuing to build lean muscle mass, eating clean to promote these gains, and working in ample amounts of cardio to continually stay trim and toned.
The True Judge Of Health
Jack LaLanne, the Godfather of Fitness once said, “Your waistline is your lifeline”. Long before modern health leaders caught on, Jack was preaching the significance of your midsection measurements on your overall health. Studies today indicate a larger waistline is associated with shorter lifespans. In some cases, studies have shown a large waistline can nearly double your risk of premature death, even if your weight is in the ‘normal’ range. Think back to those 140-lb women used in an example above now…you better believe the one with 27% body fat has a large waistline despite a normal weight.
Don’t focus on “losing weight”. Focus on building lean muscle mass, burning fat, and trimming down your waistline. You make these a priority and stop worrying about the scale, you’ll be amazed at how you’ll be looking and feeling. The next time you are tempted to step onto a scale to judge your health and fitness progress, think about taking a good look in the mirror and perhaps taking some measurements of your midsection, neck, arms, and legs. Take pictures, keep a journal, and be sure to refer back to these from time to time.
What You Can Do…
To make sure you stay fit and keep a small waistline, check out these tips:
- Make weight training a regular part of your total fitness routine
- Aim to include 2-4 sessions of cardio each week; preferably HIIT cardio sessions
- Eat a clean diet and avoid high-fat, high-sodium, highly processed foods
Getting over the number on the scale is hard. What finally got you to realize the true measurement of your health isn’t the scale? Any tips that help you stay focused on the health indicators that really matter?