By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer
I am a bit baffled as to why bodyweight remains such a huge part of our culture. It’s such a huge part of many people’s self-esteem, and a huge part of whether or not someone feels like they are succeeding or failing this week, or on a particular day, because they are up or down a few pounds on the scale.
Here are some interesting facts about body weight:
• The scale weighs your whole entire body – your skin, your organs, muscle tissue, bones, body fluid (blood, water, stomach acid, etc.) – not just your fat. In other words, you aren’t whatever number on the scale says pounds of just fat.
• No one else on the entire planet knows how much you weigh except you, unless you tell them.
• No one else cares how much you weigh, unless you are severely over or under weight, which can cause serious health issues, in which many people who care about your health and longevity may be concerned about your weight (either too high or too low) for health reasons, not necessarily appearances
• Unless there is a weight class involved in a particular sport, you won’t be judged or be successful or unsuccessful based on how much you weigh or what your body fat percentage numbers are. (in competitions such as bikini, figure and physique, the judges have no idea how much you weigh or what your body fat percentage is, and you are only judged based on what your physique and overall presentation looks like)
WHAT IS YOUR TRUE END GOAL?
I would bet that almost all of you reading this have, at the very least, a goal of gaining lean muscle and losing body fat. You may have other health, fitness and quality of life-related goals as well, but for the sake of this article, we are just talking about changing your body composition, which entails increasing your lean muscle mass and decreasing your body fat, which will change the overall shape of your body. Notice I didn’t mention weighing less overall, only increasing lean mass and decreasing body fat.
Ask yourself this question: is your bottom line goal to see a specific number when you step on the scale? Or is your bottom line goal to reduce body fat, increase muscle density and change your overall body shape in some way? We are dealing with two different things here that are in some ways associated with weight, but in other ways could have nothing to do with body weight at all.
My stepson, Hunter, is almost 16 years old, nearly 6 feet tall, somewhat lanky, muscular and very lean. He weighs 138 pounds (I know this because he wrestles for his highs school). I, on the other hand, am 5”5’ with an athletic build and carry more muscle mass than your average 43-year-old female. My weight fluctuates on any given day between 133–138 pounds, so I would consider Hunter and I in about the same weight range, yet our bodies and body composition make up are completely different.
When I ran competitively in my early 30’s but didn’t do much weight lifting and didn’t have a lot of muscle density, my bodyweight fluctuated between 128–132 pounds. No matter how much I ran or what the number on the scale said, I couldn’t for the life of me get rid of my stubborn saddle bags.
Fast forward after about 2 years of consistently lifting heavy, not running much at all and changing my calories and macros. After heavy weight lifting for several years, I was able to build quite a bit of muscle and drastically changed my body composition. My saddle bags completely disappeared, my glutes were tighter than they’d ever been in my life, I grew a wide, muscular back, tightened up my waist, saw ripped obliques, rounder, full shoulders and beautiful lines in my legs, yet my weight shot up to between 145–148 pounds.
If I had seen 148 pounds with the mindset I had when I was a runner in my early 30’s and the unrealistic value I put on my bodyweight, it likely would have put me in a funk and triggered me to drastically decrease my calories and increase my cardio, which wouldn’t have been healthy mentally, physically or emotionally.
I was fitter, healthier, leaner, more energized and stronger weighing 148 pounds than I was when I weighed 20 pounds less.
KEEP THESE THINGS IN MIND
Scales were not initially intended to take numerical measure of the human body, but were originally developed – dating back as far as 2,000 B.C. – as trading increased and merchants needed a way to assess the value of goods that could not simply be counted by the pieces, such as irregular-shaped gold nuggets for instance. Taken in this context, it could mean that the more you weigh, the more valuable you are! In all seriousness, here are some thing you can do to keep body weight in a truer perspective with your fitness progress:
1. Weight is only one small form of measurement and not even a reliable one at that. Because it simply measures the weight of your entire body – from your pinky toenail to your brains – it doesn’t tell you what is actually going on with your body composition. And even the scales that may read some level of body fat percentage, water weight, muscle mass, etc., are not necessarily accurate. As I’ve told clients in the past, jokingly, if you want to lose weight and that is your main goal, just donate an organ or chop off a limb and you’ll weigh less.
2. Weight can be one unit of measure to determine your health but not necessarily your fitness, strength and muscle density. When Body Mass Index, or BMI, was first developed by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician, and sociologist, between 1830 and 1850, it was designed to provide a simple numeric measure of a person’s weight to height ratio, allowing health professionals to discuss weight issues more objectively with their patients. BMI was intended to be used as a simple means of classifying average sedentary (physically inactive) populations, with an average body composition. There have been many criticisms of the BMI chart because “the normal ranges” are based on height to weight ratio. However, this can be flawed depending on body fat to lean muscle ratio.
3. Physique changes can mean weight fluctuations especially if you’re gaining lean muscle tissue and decreasing body fat. You may lose bodyweight, you may gain bodyweight, it may stay the same, or it may fluctuate up and down on your journey. Trust that your body is doing what it needs to do for you to get the results that you want. Your body knows what needs to happen in order for you to get the results you want, but you don’t necessarily know what needs to happen to your body, or what it needs to go through in order for you to get the results. Maybe the changes are just beyond something that causes the numbers on the scale to go up.
I could go so far as to say throw the scale away and never buy another one. Actually, one of my friends just did that as part of her New Year’s Resolution! Three of the best measures of progress I’ve learned over the years of working with clients, and my own physical transformation journey, are:
1. Progress pictures
2. How your clothes fit
3. How you feel
You know if you’re not doing well, not feeling well and not doing all the things you need to do to work towards your goals. You also know when you’re staying on top of all of your nutrition, you’re getting all your workouts in, your energy is high, sleep is good and you’re feeling great! You don’t need numbers on a scale to tell you any of this.
Tip Me Tuesday: 2020 Vision
Tip Me Tuesday: Reward Or Punishment?
Tip Me Tuesday: Food Frenzy
Tip Me Tuesday: Habit Changer
Tip Me Tuesday: Progress Report
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.
Go here to find out more about training with the NW Fitness Training Team!
Thank you for this article. We as women are so socialized to focus on the scale instead of muscle, or being healthy.Log in to reply
Perfectly stated.Log in to reply
Wow. Powerfully written and I needed to see this right now! Thanks!Log in to reply
Thank you for the reminder; weight and age are just a number!Log in to reply