Your Scale is Lying to You
Well, not exactly, it’s actually telling you exactly what it is supposed to, your weight.
So I guess that means I just lied to you…this is awkward…
Ok, allow me to start over.
The vast majority of people who regularly use the scale do so looking for information the scale is not built to provide. Looking to the scale to see how much fat you’ve burned with your new super-duper-ultra-fat-incinerating fat loss program is like reading a biology textbook expecting to learn calculus.
Scales! What are they good for?!
The job of the scale is not to tell you how much fat you have, how much muscle you have, what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is, or how attractive you are. The ONLY thing the scale does is tell you how much gravity is acting on you.
You want to lose 10 lbs eh? Stop drinking water and start sweating a lot (like, a lot a lot, I’m talking like as much as that time in high school when you found out your girlfriend’s dad was Hulk Hogan) for a few days. The weight on the scale will go down and you will have the exact same body fat percentage. This is called cutting weight. Fighters do it so they can fight in a given weight class, while still being as big as someone 10lbs heavier.
So given that we are mostly made up of water, not fat, one would think the scale weight would be more indicative of a loss or gain of water rather than fat. Yes, one would think, and one would be right!
When people tell me that they gained 6 lbs in a weekend, my reaction usually looks something like this.
There are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of fat. To gain a pound of fat one must consume an ADDITIONAL 3500 calories to the calories you must consume to keep your body movin’
So, let’s do some multiplication, shall we? 6×3500=2100. 21000 freakin’ calories!
I would say that’s approximately a metric fuckton of excess calories in a weekend. I refuse to believe that this level of consumption happened unless this person decided to take on Takeru Kobayashi in a hot dog eating contest. Here are some examples of what constitutes 21000 calories.
88.9 slices of lil’ ceasars cheese Pizza
411.7 Stalks of Brocolli
176.4 tablespoons of Olive oil
See what I’m sayin’? As someone who has rightfully earned the nicknames “garbage disposal” and “black hole”, I would find that hard, if not impossible, to achieve.
This is just one example demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the scale for determining body composition or progress in general.
What if I told you that you could look leaner yet weigh more? Because that’s absolutely possible, and probable if you strength train.
You’re Goals aren’t actually you’re Goals…probably
Muscle does not weigh more than fat, it is just more dense. So a pound of fat is larger than a pound of muscle. This means your body could undergo a huge visible transformation, look thinner, and you could weigh the same or more. By losing weight your goal is to look and feel better, right? So what does it matter what the scale says? What’s so magical about 5 or 10 lbs, other than being divisible by 5?
The answer is nothing. It’s all made up. Society says that everyone must be/look a certain way in order to be accepted. If you want to be happier with your body, setting goals based on scale numbers undermines the root goal of looking better, walking with confidence, and overall happiness. That number on the scale has nothing to do with any of dat shit.
If our goal is to look better, shouldn’t we focus on how we look? Looking deeper, we want to look better so we can FEEL better. So if our goal is to feel better, shouldn’t we focus on how we feel? How does a scale number, which at its root is arbitrary and socially constructed, help us achieve these goals? Hint: It doesn’t.
It seems that for most individuals using the scale as a measure of progress, health, and attractiveness is discouraging and cultivates an unhealthy relationship with food, exercise, and body image. Thus, for most, using the scale is about as productive as watching a marathon of Keeping up with the Kardashians whilst eating toothpaste. Unless you compete in a sport with weight classes I say ditch the scale.
So now that we know that scales are inappropriate for our purposes, how are we supposed to check up on our progress?
In part 2, I will outline some radtastic ways to measure progress that will help you develop a healthy relationship with your body and food.