Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's The Deal With You and the Scale?

Alright people, this is the hot button issue when it comes to people trying to get in better shape. I understand that in our country "weight loss" is most easily measured with a scale. We also quickly feed our hunger with unhealthy foods and expect every solution to come instantly in the form of a pill, technology or the push of a button. If we're already getting so many things wrong, why do you expect the most popular measure of weight loss to be any different?

What do you mean exactly when you say you want to "lose weight?" Do you only mean that you want the numbers on the scale to go down? Let's say I tamper with your scale in the middle of the night. And every week the numbers go down steadily, but your actual body never changes because it's just me messing with your scale. Would that make you happier? The fact that a machine is telling you you're consistently losing weight although you're not actually losing anything?

By "losing weight" do you mean that you want less physical fat on your body and you want to fit into smaller clothes? Because when you lose inches, that's what's happening. Your body is getting physically smaller. This option is definitely the one that I am concerned with. In fact, I don't even use the term "lose weight" anymore because my actual weight on a scale is circumstancial. I'm just trying to get fitter and drop my body fat percentage. I'm really not so concerned with what a little box tells me so long as my clothing and my reflection are doing what I want.

Do you realize that you've been TAUGHT to rely on a scale? The same way we're taught what beauty is, what's in fashion and who we should love. These are all influenced by the environment you live and grow up in. If such a unit of measurement as the scale did not exist, how would you measure your progress? If you could only  judge by your reflection and your clothes, what would be more important to you then - the inches or the pounds? When you stop and think about it, what difference does it make how much you weigh? Do people regularly pick you up? Unless you're a cheerleader or dancer, I would highly doubt that you are lifted by strangers on a regular basis. Do people regularly see your actual physical shape? Because when you lose inches - THAT is the change that gets noticed. The scale just gives you a little number that only you and your doctor know. You're not required to tell anyone what it is and even if you are, you can lie about it. You can't lie about your physical shape. In fact, you may have actually lost ten pounds - but if your body doesn't show it and you tell me you did, I'll think you're lying anyway. So really, what did those ten pounds get you? If you told me you lost ten inches - that's something that would show on you.

I know that in most people's brains, logic says that losing inches should equal losing pounds too. Let me clue you in - YOUR LOGIC IS WRONG. Plain and simple. Losing inches does not equal losing pounds and getting smaller does not always equal losing pounds. I can tell you that I have been two completely different dress sizes at the exact same number on the scale. I don't even know what scale numbers mean anymore. You can take 5 people who all weigh the exact same amount and stand them next to each other and they will look nothing alike. Some may be fit, some may be fat - they'd all weigh the same but look completely different. Because a scale number isn't telling you much. It doesn't tell you what's muscle and what's fat - and believe me that makes a huge difference. It doesn't tell you what size pants you'll fit into.

5lbs. of FAT vs. 5lbs. of MUSCLE. Which one takes up less space? Both show up as 5lbs. on a scale. 

You need to un-teach yourself what you've learned. Stop relying on the scale as your main measure of progress because you will miss the actual progress you're making. You should never make the statement "I'm losing inches and my clothes are getting bigger and I see definition BUT the numbers on the scale...." This is the one statement that makes me crazier than any other. It names all of the things that people typically set out on a weight loss journey for - all of the progress is happening right there. But people are SO caught up in stupid little numbers from a stupid little box that they completely ignore all of their actual progress for something that doesn't actually measure progress. Completely.Ridiculous.

I know that many of you who read this will continue to obsess over your scale. My sincere hope for you is that  one day you will look up and look for your progress where it matters as opposed to staying obsessed with a number you've been taught to obsess over. If this post describes you, please stop. Please throw your scale away and never look back. Please only weigh yourself when you go to the doctor and even then - take into account the fact that you're wearing clothes (hopefully) & have food and liquid in your body. If you're looking the way you want to, if you're losing inches of body fat and getting lean muscle, if your clothes are starting to fit better or get bigger - please, please, please congratulate yourself on ACTUAL progress and stop looking to inanimate objects to give you useless information.

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