The scales, every dieters’ worst enemy and the bringer of many a bad tiding, but it shouldn’t be that way. Unless you participate in a sport where ‘making weight’ is a prerequisite for entry, please do as the title says and get rid of your scales.
There are many reasons why this should be the case, perhaps the most important being that the number on the dial actually represents very little in isolation and so should be regarded as such; after all, using weight alone an 18st rugby player could be written off as overweight when in fact he is in prime physical condition. The mass of a person is made up of many things, and includes muscle, water, bodily fluids, waste products, undigested food and yes, fat, but without considering body composition this figure can easily be misunderstood and lead to a myriad of undesirable effects.
The diagram shows the possible detrimental effects of focusing on the number on the scale alone and can lead to a vicious circle of body dysmorphia, binge eating, increased weight gain and ill health; something that we can all agree should be avoided. Whilst this may seem a little extreme, it does represent rather well the connection between focusing purely on overall weight and paying little attention to other factors.
Now of course, not everyone undertakes exercise in order to lose weight, but for those that do, weight loss should be seen as an additional bonus for undertaking a healthier lifestyle and more emphasis put on the countless other benefits that exercise brings.
When undertaking exercise the individual will find that they have more energy, are eating better (healthier lifestyle), sleep better and may find that their clothes begin to fit better (it is possible to lose inches without losing overall weight). Exercise can benefit mental health also and time spent in the gym/running/taking a class is important ‘me’ time’, which is particularly beneficial for those with children, high pressure jobs or challenges in their home lives. The importance of taking an hour or so out of your day to do something purely for the good of you cannot be over stressed and can also act as a useful outlet. Many of us spend so much time looking after and considering others, whether at home or at work, that this time spent working on us and our own wellbeing is so important and can make our lives that much more enjoyable. Add to that the social aspect of exercise and you realise that the number on the scale really isn’t that important.
“But I’ve been exercising hard and eating right and the scales haven’t moved/my weight has gone up” This happens and is part of the natural fluctuations in our body weight, but can be totally disheartening and make us want to throw in the towel. Think again of what our body weight actually consists of and you can see that variations in weight are somewhat inevitable and perfectly understandable. Did we eat a salty meal the previous night or one high in carbohydrates, both of which will cause additional water to be stored within the body and increase our weight. Did we simply eat more than usual? Have we been to the toilet prior to our weight in? Have we built muscle tissue? Whereabouts are we in our menstrual cycle (up to 10lbs of water retention can occur at certain points!)? Just how accurate are your scales and are you using the same set each time and they in exactly the same place? Do you record your weight at the same time of day each time?
I can guarantee that if you take your weight twice an hour apart that the results will be slightly different, but does this mean that your weight/body composition has changed too? No, your body is changing constantly as it goes about its daily tasks (metabolism) maintaining homeostasis and keeping you alive, so does it really matter what that number on that £9.99 piece of plastic says. How do you feel? Are you feeling generally better? Do you enjoy your twice weekly visits to the gym? If the answer is yes then good on you, keep u[p the good work and reap the benefits of a healthier you. Your body is an amazing thing, love it and look after it regardless what the number on the scale tells you!
Love yourself, keep moving and live your best life!