For the longest time the scale has been the golden standard measurement of progress. Lose 5lbs and it’s a victory, gain 5lbs and our self-worth plummets. With the increased popularity of women lifting the scale has started to become less relevant in how we measure our progress on our fitness journeys. But I still hear people screaming “fuck the scale!!” when it’s not the scale’s fault we allow it to control our mood.
Rather than blame the scale, you can use it to learn a lot about what is going on inside your body. Instead of an enemy, the scale can become your ally.
Muscle is denser than fat
Everyone knows the old (and very inaccurate saying) that “muscle weighs more than fat.” This isn’t true because a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat– however it certainly takes up less space. As you can see in the picture below, it is obvious I’m carrying more fat on the left even though I weigh less, however I have more muscle mass on the right since I weigh more but am smaller.
Increase in weight doesn’t = increase in fat (or even muscle)
Many women start fitness journeys and freak out when they gain 5-10lbs almost immediately. Unless you are eating like a total pig, it’s probably not fat. It’s also absurd to think that shortly after starting a new routine you’ll have put on that much muscle. Putting on muscle is actually a pretty slow process.
If you are new in your fitness journey, new to a specific style of training or even just trying out a new program you are likely to see some weight fluctuation. This is totally normal! Your muscles are being fatigued and are needing more water for recovery, so you’re most likely retaining it.
Also, if you aren’t keeping an eye on your sodium there’s a good chance your body is hanging on to water weight. I’ve lost 5 pounds in just a few days by cutting sodium and upping my water intake. The biggest reward didn’t come from weighing less, but because I wasn’t retaining so much water I felt great!
Consistency is key. Personally, I weigh myself everyday because this allows me to see how my weight fluctuates on a daily basis. If you only weigh yourself once a week, you miss the fluctuations your weight had all week. You are now going by one number that tells even less of the story.
The Mental Game
You only hate the scale because the world has told you that you should live and die by a stupid number. You hate it because you tie your self-worth to that stupid number. You hate it because you haven’t learned to love yourself despite that stupid number. It’s not the scale that’s the problem, it’s you.
When you are truly are comfortable in your skin and where you are at, then you won’t love or hate the scale– but you’ll be able to see it for what it is. A simple tool. You will be able to weigh yourself, take note of the number and then let it go. This is where your freedom lies.
The scale is best in conjunction with other tools, like progress pictures, taking measurements, fitting in your clothes and of course getting your body fat percentage. You can take a few of these tools together and see what is really going on inside your body.
Stop thinking about how much your weight is and start thinking why it is what it is. Water retention, muscle gain, simultaneously losing fat and gaining muscle are all reasons why the scale may not be budging. Eat well, kick ass in the gym, trust the process, be in it for the long game and you will be able to kiss all your emotions for the scale goodbye.
Are you a slave to your emotions about the scale? Or do you see it as one of several valuable tools?
Image credit: Shutterstock
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