Stop Weighing Yourself!
Weight loss is frustrating. It’s unfair how quickly you can put it on and how long it takes to take it off. No wonder we’re always stepping on the scale to check our progress. But weighing yourself isn’t the best way to do it. The following is an excerpt from The Simple Seven book that explains why.
First, let’s be clear about what we’re measuring. The distinction is important because when we step on a bathroom scale, a change in weight doesn’t always indicate a change in body fat — which is what we’re trying to lose and measure.
Body weight is the sum of its parts: fat, bones, tissues, organs, fluids, etc. A change in body fat isn’t the only factor that can change body weight. Weight can change for the following reasons:
- Fluctuations in body water. As I discussed in the Drink Chapter, our bodies store and use water around the clock, our weight fluctuating correspondingly. Sometimes significantly, by a few pounds within the same day.
- The weight of muscle. Worked muscles are denser and weigh more than the surrounding fat they displace.
- The weight of new muscle. It weighs more temporarily. The body builds new muscle by first tearing down existing muscle, which induces inflammation, blood flooding muscle tissue with nutrients and carrying waste away.
Thus, “weight” loss can be misleading — and frustrating. When what we really want is to measure is the loss of body fat. There are a few ways to do it, but each has drawbacks.
- Body mass index (BMI) uses a table that estimates “percentage using weight and height. 18–24 percent body fat is considered normal. BMI doesn’t account for leaner persons having more muscle or muscle weighing more than fat. Nor does it account for the location of body fat, such as belly fat, which is a marker for some diseases.
- Skin-fold measuring calculates the percent of body fat by measuring high body-fat areas — triceps, chest, mid-thigh, belly, love handles — with a special instrument called a skin-fold caliper. Skin-fold measuring is more accurate than BMI, but it requires the knowledge of a skilled practitioner.
- Other, more accurate methods are either expensive or aren’t readily available.
But you can use this simple guideline: Track changes in your body fat by what you can see.
We do this when we notice that someone has “lost weight.” Without knowing how much “weight” they’ve lost, we can see a difference. Do the same for yourself. It’s a lot less frustrating.
If you’d like to measure the difference, keep track of the change in your clothing size and how your clothes fit, loose or tight. That’s what I do. It’s effective and I’m a lot less stressed.
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The Simple Seven © Marlene Veltre 2021 All rights reserved
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The information in this post is to be used for educational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice or to prevent, cure, or heal any illness or disease. You should always see your doctor or health practitioner.
Originally published at https://www.thesimpleseven.com on January 31, 2021.