Why Your Scale Shouldn’t Be Trusted
Written by Dave Thomas
It’s not the scale is evil, it’s just that it’s kind of like you as a teenager. You gave your parents the surface level of what they needed to know, but the important details, you kept hidden.
Using the scale as your only source of progress measurement is like reading the last chapter of every book you buy. Everything that happens up to that point matters, and you’re missing the entire story.
The scale is great for weighing things. If you were a shipping container, the scale would be awesome. However, ask yourself why you want to know only your net weight? Why do you care about that total number? Is it because it’s driving your perception of your results? Is it because it’s an antiquated tool from days or yore we’re just addicted to? After all, doesn’t the break down of how that weight is comprised matter? If I have two hundred pounds of various metal, wouldn’t I want to know if some of that is gold versus rusted scrap?
Where the scale fails you is in that breakdown.
For example, it is very common for a member to burn seven pounds of body fat in their first three months while adding four pounds of muscle. If one were to base their progress off the scale, they might see a net decrease of “just” 3 pounds and be disappointed. However, in reality the results are much more profound, dropping 7 pounds of unhealthy tissue (fat) and replacing it with 4 pounds of healthly tissue (muscle). This is a tremendous initial success and what happens to the vast majority of people in a program that contains strength and conditioning.
Instead of the scale, I propose one of two alternatives.
1. Don’t Measure
If I became Commander in Chief of Fitness for just 10 minutes I would make sure that in my supreme list of final verdicts I would eradicate the use of a daily weigh-in as a determination of progress. While a scale can serve a good purpose as a very baseline indicator of weight management, more often than not I’ve witnessed them turn otherwise sane and logical people into obsessed freaks who weigh themselves eighteen times a day until they finally lose it and Office Space the fucking thing.
Your body can fluctuate as much as three to five pounds in a given day just by regular metabolic processes, glycogen depletion and replenishment, water weight retention and menstruation if you are a woman. So, if you weighed yourself on Monday morning and read 170 you could very easily go back that very same night and have it read 175.
Would you honestly believe you put on five pounds of fat in 12 hours while maintaining an intense exercise program?
The much better solution is to track other data points. How do you feel? How much energy do you have? How do you carry yourself? How do you fill out your clothes? Are jeans tighter around the butt and legs but not around the waist? That means you’re adding muscle, not fat, and that’s a good thing.
If you are the analytical type who needs the sanity of data, then there is a solution.
2. Measure Better
The scale tells us nothing of how we are re-composing our body to contain more muscle and less fat, and I can’t tell you how many times people are astonished at their results when they start measuring it with something that provides an actual breakdown of what’s really happening.
If you like to measure, the indisputably superior alternative would be the InBody machine at Crown Point. Or the machine “with the weird handles”, as member Bill Byrne so eloquently put when talking about his dramatic transformation. You will get a far more accurate picture of what’s going on.
It’s free, it’s easy to use and you come in any Sunday you want and get scanned once a month.
The scale can be an okay tool as a very rudimentary assessment of weight loss. Certainly, if you are very overweight, the scale will be a good indicator of fat loss as mostly likely all the weight you lose will be fat, initially. But past a certain point it becomes a data point that only tells a portion of the story. Don’t let it drive you nuts.
In fact, don’t let it even drive your assessment of your progress at all.
Do you feel better?
Do you move better?
Do you look better?
Good. Then off with your scale’s head.