Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The scale lies

"The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can."
~Robert Cushing

Are you afraid of getting on your scale? Do you dread what it will say? Do you avoid your scale like the plague? Is it hidden somewhere out of sight only to be pulled out and used once a year or so? Well I say, don't be afraid of the scale (in fact that's my slogan as a Personal Trainer) because the truth is that the scale lies! Yes, it does its job and tells you your weight but its not the scales' fault that it only gives you partial truth. Confused? Lol. I'm sure you are interested in what the heck I am talking about! ;)

The scale only tells you your weight. That much we know. What most don't understand or aren't taught by most of the weight-loss centers, dieticians, doctors, well-meaning family members and friends is that the scale doesn't take into account other things such as your fat percentage, your bodymass to bodyfat ratio, your well-being, your fitness level or how your clothes fit.

I always tell my clients that the scale is a good tool to keep them honest but don't freak out by the numbers when they are working out hard because the scale will only tell them a partial story. I have a weekly weigh-in with my clients and then take their bodyfat measurements with bodyfat calipers and also select body measurements. Put all together, I then show them how and why their diet is affecting their bodyfat levels and I also show and tell them how their exercise is affecting their muscle and body measurements. To further explain, let's say the scale says you were 160 lbs. last week and this week after much hard work, you get on the scale and it still says 160 lbs. Most would find it discouraging. I would tell my clients to wait until we do their weigh-in and let's see what it says. A bodyfat loss of 2 lbs. with a muscle gain of 2 lbs. would mean that the scale wouldn't change but there would be a difference! It would be 2 lbs of fat lost that was replaced with a 2 lb muscle gain! That's progress that the scale would show. This is why I say the scale only gives a partial story.

When you are exercising, you will be toning and building muscle (especially at first) and the scale may say that you've gained a few pounds but it will be muscle. At that point, you are ahead in the game because the added muscle will help you burn extra calories and fat. So while the scale may not change or even go up, it is not the bad thing you might think. Instead, most people would see that and think that what they are doing is wrong and give up when in fact they were actually progressing towards their goal. Always, always, always keep at it with your exercising. Even if you plateau and have no changes in a week, you are improving your fitness level so there is still a positive to focus on.

I always tell my clients to go by how they feel (do you feel satisfied that you are working out and doing something for your health?), how their clothes feel on them and how they look in the mirror as a progress marker for their dieting and working out rather than the cold hard number on the scale. Never let the scale lie to you again! Now you know. ;)