Blog 5: Why the scale is not always your friend if you’re trying to get in shape…
How many of you have committed yourself to a goal of losing weight? You are eating healthy, exercising routinely, and you’re even drinking the recommended amount of water. Over all, you are feeling good and confident that you are seeing results. You want to see the results with your own eyes and decide that you are ready. It’s time to hop on the scale. Empty bladder and empty belly you step on, and what do you see? … The scales says you have GAINED two pounds. Instantly your self-confidence drops and you feel defeated. All this hard work and it seems that none of it is paying off. All you can think is “what gives?”
The truth of the matter is, the scale is not always your friend when you’re trying to track your fitness goals. In fact it can be quite misleading at times. There are other important factors to be taken into account:
The density of muscle and the density of fat are very different
Adipose tissue, or fat, is significantly less dense than muscle causing it to take up more space or volume. The density of fat is actually less than the density of water which is why it floats, unlike muscle, which sinks because it is slightly more dense. This is also why fat has a “lumpier” appearance than muscle, which as a much smoother texture.
There are much more accurate measurements you can take
Your body weight is not the only way to monitor your progress in the gym. One measurement that does not lie when you’re trying to trim the waistline is body fat percentage. Although you need your weight to calculate your body fat, a body fat measurement helps you determine what is fat and what is lean body mass. Often times as you build muscle and lose fat you will see the scale go up due to the differing density of muscle and fat as mentioned previously. Taking your body fat measurement helps more accurately gauge where you are in your fitness goals.
An additional measurement to properly assess body composition is using a tape measure to find circumference measurements along difference parts of the body. Doing this will show you where you are really experiencing gains and where you are experiencing good losses.
There are some things the scale can’t tell you
There are benefits to hitting the gym that can’t be measured on the scale. Increased energy and a better attitude are typically noticed when people start incorporating a fitness regimen into their usual routine. Another huge benefit of regular exercise is increased self-esteem and confidence. Working out has been proven to increase self-image and overall self worth. As if these benefits aren’t substantial enough, just remember, other benefits like cardiovascular improvements and enhancing your cognitive function also cannot be measured with a scale.
So next time you become discouraged that the pounds aren’t melting away like you thought they would, ask yourself:
Are your clothes fitting better?
Do you have more energy than before?
Are you sleeping better?
Has your stamina improved?
Do you feel stronger and more capable?
If you can answer yes to even just one of these questions, that should be motivation enough to keep going. If you can’t, that’s okay too. There are ALWAYS areas of improvement in the gym. That’s why we call it a fitness “journey.” It is always helpful to have a personal trainer that understands your goals and is able to customize a program that is made for you! No matter what though, don’t let the scale discourage you. Stick to what will motivate!