As a measurement of fitness, the scale can be very demotivating! (Photo: Contributed)
The Challenge: Week Ten
Mar 25, 2011 / 5:00 am
Weigh-in Week 10:
Weight: 344 lbs
We are down to the last couple weeks of training as part of the Global Fitness Get it Back-Give it Back Challenge. It has been a very interesting journey. I feel I am running out of things to talk about. I have gone through so much in the past three months. I do feel much stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.
While I have your attention I would like to talk in more detail about “THE SCALE”. In my personal journey it has been more of an enemy then a friend. The scale has been demotivating more than it has been motivating. I also have a couple of team members that feel the same. When you experience a "flat" week or even a small gain it is devastating to you. Each week you focus and work hard work every day. You are hoping to be rewarded and sometimes that scale just doesn’t help you out. So why do we use it? I am getting tired of seeing people upset after weeks of hard work. We need to make a change in the way we measure success.
I think we use it, because it is easy. It takes no time at all to step on the scale to get a number. We can either celebrate or not. It does give us an overall idea of how things are working. However it does not give us the most accurate picture of what this hard work is doing. There are also many reasons why you won’t see weight loss from week to week.
Here are a few of the reasons I have been told weight loss week to week may not happen:
- Muscle weighs more than Fat
It makes sense right? As you workout you are building muscle, so as you burn away the fat, the extra muscle can overtake the loss in overall weight. Initially this may be true, but as you progress over months of exercise you would hope the ratio of fat burning to muscle gain will sort itself out
- You are in Starvation Mode
This dates back to caveman days. Your body was used to going several days without food so in order to survive it had to store any excess food. In today’s world, food is readily accessible to us but our bodies respond the same way. If we are used to taking in 3500 calories per day and suddenly restrict it to 1500 the body says, "Hold on, we need to do something about this." The body stores that energy in case it needs it later on, but later on doesn’t come.
- Not enough Rest
Going from no workouts each week to five or more throws your body off. Again it triggers a survival response and your body wants to hold on to whatever it can.
Changes in life - financial, emotional and physical stresses - play a huge role in whether or not your body lets go of its stores. Stress is probably the single biggest factor in the body holding on to weight. The chemicals that stress releases wreak havoc on the body and can prevent weight loss.
These are the big ones, but I am sure there are many more reasons to explain why there is no loss on the scale. My question is, if there are so many variables in what can affect the scale, then why do we depend on it so much to determine success or failure? If we don’t see the loss then we have a much harder task to stay motivated and show up every day. No wonder society has such a hard time staying fit. It is much easier to give up when you don’t see results. Why put in all that effort if you are not going to be rewarded right? We all know that is not the answer, but I am hopeful if we can take the pressure off the importance of the scale we will have an easier time keeping people motivated.
What if we focussed on the following?
In the weeks I didn’t show a loss on the scale I had a loss in inches. My clothes fit better and clearly all the hard work was doing something
Another quick measurement you can take, even at the local pharmacy. This is a staple in vital stats which all health professionals need to access your overall health. Isn’t a change in blood pressure a better indicator of how well you are doing?
How many push-ups can you do? How many crunches? Can you stretch further then you did when you started? Can you run instead of walk? How long can you run? Can you lift your own body weight? Seeing improvements in all these areas seem more important than a number on a scale to me.
We know we need to reduce our cholesterol and sucrose levels to reduce the risk of disease right? After a couple of weeks of regular exercise you can see these numbers decrease. One of the big reasons to get fit is to reduce the risk of heart attacks and diabetes right?
Body Fat Test
I can’t wait to see what changes have happened in my overall body fat. I had a body fat % of 38. If that came down to 36 that in itself would have huge effects to my overall health.
Perceived Overall Health
How do you feel? Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping better? Can you get rid of your sleep apnea mask? Can you walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath? The scale won’t tell you these improvements either.
Percentage of Body Weight Lost
If you start at 350 lbs, 5% is 17.5 lbs. If you start at 150 lbs, 5% is 7.5 lbs. Can you really compare the two numbers? It is the same success overall but it’s a ten pound difference. Is there a way to step on a scale and have it show your percentage lost instead of the actual number lost? Dr. Oz tells us that a 5% weight loss has significant benefits to our overall health.
I am sure if we thought more we could find even more ways to measure success. The reason we don’t is because this society is obsessed with the scale. Why shouldn’t we be? All the “lost weight” shows that use of the scale is the final measuring tool. Certain sports use it all the time. Fighters separate each other based on weight. Many trainers use the BMI to determine where you should be based on your height and weight. In order to keep people motivated to change their habits shouldn’t we find a better way show results? I think it would make a world of difference.
Some of the highlights of my journey so far have been adding notches to my belt. I have already put three on and I am about to add another. I have set up an appointment with my mother-in-law to take in all my dress pants for work. I am getting clothes out of the closet I haven’t worn in years. I normally wear a 3XL t-shirt. I put on a XL shirt today that didn’t seem too bad. I have climbed Knox Mountain three times in the past week and plan on doing it a few more times before this is over. I am going to do the Try-a -Tri in August. I am completing more tasks now that I couldn’t do in the first few weeks. I haven’t even reached 10% weight loss yet. These are the lasting successes that are going to keep me going long after this program is finished.
We need to push our trainers and health care professionals to help us measure what is important. We need to tell our friends and family to stop asking “how much weight have you lost?” Get your doctor to take your blood pressure and order the blood work you need. Get your trainer to set up an obstacle course or other form of fitness test. Get access to someone that can use body fat callipers and test your percent of body fat. One of the keys to keeping us motivated is to see results. If the scale can be easily affected, then we need to use other measurements to keep us charged up.
Above all else before you get discouraged about not losing on the scale make sure you take these other measurements. If you are watching what you eat and exercising regularly at least three times per week I can guarantee you will see improvements in these other areas.
Dan Boundy, Marketing Consultant for Castanet Media has accepted this challenge. Dan is 37-years-old, 6 ft. 4 in. tall and his starting weight was 373 lbs.
To read Dan's previous articles, click here.
Read more Losin' It articles
- The Challenge: Final Week Apr 14
- The Challenge: Week Eleven Apr 2
- The Challenge: Week Ten Mar 25
- The Challenge: Week Nine Mar 17
- The Challenge: Half Way Mar 5
- The Challenge: Week Five Feb 18
- The Challenge: Week Four Feb 11
- The Challenge: Week Three Feb 2
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