The Anti-Scales Campaign Starts Here

Urgh… what… shurrup… oh… alarm clock… off… urgh… up… bathroom… scales… scales?… scales?!… AAAAAAARGH!!!!

Every morning was the same for me. And it wasn’t just limited to the morning. I might have weighed myself, twice, three times, four times in a day. That little number was everything. Whether it was a little number was everything. My day was entirely dictated by it. A lower number on the scale meant joy, elation- it meant food for breakfast. It meant that I was a good person, a worthwhile human being. But a higher number… well. Tears, anger, frustration. Black coffee for breakfast. And lunch, dinner. Maybe a raw carrot if the fat, ugly bitch couldn’t hold out any longer.

The scale number completely controlled my life. It was a powerful, painful and intensely destructive relationship that left me physically, mentally and emotionally abused.

Then one day, it stopped. The scale and I broke up.

Rather than letting the scale control my thoughts, my body, I took control. Since then, I’ve been able to grow- both mentally and physically.  But God almighty, did I have some intensive repair work to do.

Time after time, day after day, I hear similar stories, stories of lives that rest in the hands of the scale number. Are you one of those stories? Do you too need to escape this painful, frustrating existence and free yourself from the murky depths of scale-obsessed obscurity? And if not, are you developing a minor scale infatuation that could be dangerously headed that way?

Because I promise you, if you allow your attachment to the scale to get too deep, it will take over. Sever your ties now. And here’s why…

Scale weight is IRRELEVANT! It tells you little to NOTHING about your physical progress! The scale LIES!

What you’ve eaten, what you’ve had to drink, the time of day, the time of the month, the type of workouts you’ve been doing, hydration levels, stress levels… There are so many variables that can significantly distort the scale number. And even more importantly than that, when you take up a lifestyle change, the numbers don’t even represent the same body that they once did.

We’re going to talk about how to scrap the scales, and how, instead, to employ smart, measurable and accurate methods of monitoring progress.

Which brings me to the all important fundamentals of

Body Composition vs. Body Weight

If you plan on embarking on any sort of body transformation, it’s important you understand the fundamentals of body composition vs. body weight.

It is not the number on the scale that determines how much fat you are carrying; it is your body composition. By this, I am referring to the ratio of fat : fat-free mass. Fat-free mass includes bone, water, muscle, and tissues. Body fat is literally fat located within the body. Some fat is necessary for overall health; it helps protect internal organs, provides energy and regulates hormones.

We all know that when someone is overweight or obese, they have an excessive accumulation of body fat. But were you aware that someone at a ‘healthy’ weight can still be carrying excessive body fat? This is when body weight becomes an obsolete measure of health.

Let me make things a little clearer for you…

Take two women. Both of them are 5’8” and 150lbs.

Woman 1 has a good diet and exercise regime. She has a 26” waist and clear muscle definition.

Woman 2 eats an unbalanced diet and is quite sedentary. She has a 31” waist, bingo wings and love handles.

Despite these huge differences in physical appearance, both are at the exact same, ‘healthy’ weight for their height.

So what’s the difference?

The answer is simple: Body Composition.

Woman 2 has 35% body fat. Woman 1 has 20% body fat.

Woman 1 has a lower body fat % because she is carrying more muscle relative to her weight. Muscle is more dense than fat, so 5lbs of muscle is about three times smaller than 5lbs of fat.

Do you see now why achieving your dream body is about BODY COMPOSITION rather than body weight?

When you lose weight, and go about in the way that most of the diet industry recommends (i.e. fad diets and endless cardio) it can negatively change your body composition. Whilst the scale says you are losing weight, a high percentage of that is water and muscle. By wasting away fat-free mass, you are actually increasing your body fat percentage! This means more flab, a lowered metabolism and a harder time keeping the weight off!

All those ‘Lose 10 lbs in a Week’ promises are cons. Only 1-2lbs of that will be fat, if any, as the more you starve your body, the more it wants to hang on to fat for dear life! And once you start eating normally again, you gain all the weight back!

So… what is this ’body fat %’ I speak of, and how can you find out yours?

You’ll see the term ‘body fat %’ popping up a lot throughout my articles and eBooks. It simply refers to the percentage of your total weight that is comprised of fat. Conversely, ‘lean body mass’ describes the total weight that is made up of fat-free mass.

The standard body fat % recommendations are as follows:

Age Males Females
20-29 10-15% 18-22%
30-39 12-16% 20-24%
40-49 14-18% 21-25%
50 15-19% 22-26%
Athletes 5-8% 12-18%
Essential Fat 3% 12%
Obesity 25% 32%

So, how do we crunch some numbers?

Body fat is very difficult to measure accurately, other than through a DEXA scan or hydrostatic testing (and even then, there’s still a margin for error). The most popular methods of measuring body fat are bioelectrical impedance (usually via a scale or hand-held device) and caliper testing. However, whilst these more common methods aren’t likely to give you a perfect calculation, they are something you can use to track trends. Providing you test body fat at roughly the same time of day each time (or in the case of caliper testing, get the same person to do it for you), you can get a good idea of whether your body fat % is decreasing. Monthly photographs and body measurements are also excellent ways to track progress.

We should track progress via body fat estimates, measurements and photographs, because scale weight is an inaccurate gauge of progress and can be discouraging. When you focus on losing fat, you can drop inches without losing much weight. This means that a few pounds loss could equal a whole dress size!

Now, to take that scale-shaped demon and destroy it…

Recommended scale killing methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Taking to top floor of building and hurling out of window (ensure no unsuspecting passers-by are likely to meet with a falling-scale related injury/death)
  • Attacking with sledge-hammer
  • Burying in garden (bear in mind that this is NOT an eco-friendly option)
  • Drowning in pond or alternative body of water (also fails on the eco-friendly front)
  • Mummifying in duct tape

Please do ensure that no people, animals or plants are harmed in the killing of your scale.

So, I conclude… Don’t be that person who’s day is dictated by their scale weight. Don’t be the fool who trusts what the number indicates. Don’t base your perception of who you are as a person on an insignificant piece of data. If you’re going to collect numbers, collect numbers that mean something. If you’re going to obsessed with something, be obsessed with something real, something productive. Be obsessed with being a better you.

I’ll be eyeing the headlines for news of a wide-spread scale massacre. Don’t disappoint me. And do please share your scale killing method of choice below!

4 replies on “The Anti-Scales Campaign Starts Here

  • Paramjit

    Good point. The challenge is that people relate more to weight than to body fat levels. Most women who understand the concept of body composition invariably go back to the weight scales without them realizing it. This seems to be so deeply entrenched that one wonders if this type of thinking could ever be changed?

  • Victoria

    I did notice that when I started working out, dieting (eating healthy and more monounsaturated fats) – I started gaining weight on the scales – almost 2-3kgs… but I could have sworn my belly is flatter and my overall tone looks better than ever… Is this likely?

  • Charli

    It’s very possible, if you started working out with weights. These are called ‘newbie gains’, which will allow you to gain muscle more quickly than usual, whilst maintaining or even dropping body fat. The mirror is always a better judge than the scale 🙂

  • Liz

    That makes a lot of sense 🙂
    I find it hard not to weigh myself after having my second child 18mths ago, I think I’ve become obsessed with doing it. The last time I just let my clothes do the talking, and just ate and exercised. Ate what ever I liked but made sure I did 30mins of exercise a day. When I did jump on the scales finally I’d lost 40kg which I was stoked at 😀 But this time seems to be different, not sure why.

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