Monday 8:30am. I was putting on my makeup after my gym session this morning. A girl walks behind me in her underwear over to the scales, steps on, read the numbers, tutted loudly, then jumped off, stomping back over to get dressed and looking bitterly disappointed in herself. This happens every single time I go to the gym, and I can’t help but feel so frustrated every time. And quite frankly, I can’t think of any worse way to start the week off on a Monday.
How many times have you felt amazing after scoring a personal best at the gym, or knowing you’ve had a week of eating lean and clean meals, only to step on the scales and have all that hard work crushed when you haven’t lost any weight? That stabilised number staring back at you bores into your brain like some tall skinny bitch shouting “FAT HOE” at you. It’s not nice. In fact, it’s terrible And usually, from experience, it makes you do 1 of 2 things.
1) Think fuck it, lose all motivation, and eat anything and everything you can get your hands on, including mouldy chocolate from Christmas 4 years ago because if you’re working so hard and not losing any weight what difference does 36 grotty old gold chocolate coins even make?
2) Eat nothing. Disappointment leads to cutting more calories, working harder, and basically being unhealthy and punishing your body.
Scales only measure your body mass. That’s all. But the scales can’t measure your fitness, your strength, your fat percentage, and your muscle weight.
We all know that muscle weighs more than fat – it’s something drilled into us by science and PE teachers and personal trainers in the gym trying to justify the lack of numbers decreasing on the scales – and it’s something I can categorically state as being true due to my own experiences. When I was on the Body Coach’s 90 Day SS Plan I lost inches off my thighs, hips, and finally got my waist back down to 24inches, but want to know how much weight I lost? Around 2-3kg. That’s only 5.5lbs. That’s like a little bag of sugar. A kitten. See what I mean? It’s really nothing in terms of weight, but in how I physically looked, it was a far more drastic change.
If you’re training and eating right, the numbers on the scales just don’t represent your fat. It can represent the growth in lean muscle which will help make your metabolism work faster, burn more fat, and result in a leaner body. And who doesn’t want a leaner body? The number on the scales fluctuates because of things like water retention, bloating, issues with digestion, because you may have drank a lot of water, you’re due on your period… the list goes on. So it’s an unreliable number – one that you desperately need to stop paying any attention to.
Despite taking up The Body Coach’s 90 Day SSS plan a few months ago, I’m not the slimmest I’ve been. Around three years ago I was training 5 days a week, doing at least an hour of steady cardio, and eating no carbs, counting every calorie, treating myself to an occasional cheat meal, and weighing myself every morning religiously. If I hadn’t lost 0.5lb everyday minimum, I’d feel disappointed, and just cut my meals right back down to tiny portions, and not eat anything after 5pm so that everything would have digested out of my system by the time I weigh myself the next morning. Then I’d turn into a mega bitch because I was hangry and pissed off that I wasn’t losing any weight. Not fun! That’s an unhealthy relationship with food and weight right there, because I couldn’t see that despite the fact that my body had changed so much, the scales weren’t a true representation of what I looked like.
Changing your shape can be hard to keep track of if you’re not quantifying it. You need numbers to work to to keep yourself motivated. So if you really need a number to go on, get a tape measure! But this goes with a small warning – it won’t change as often as the number on a scale. But it will give a truer representation of your progress as your silhouette becomes slimmer.
Toning up, slimming down, burning fat, and losing weight isn’t a race. Sustainable weight loss takes time, so the sooner you begin to enjoy becoming fitter and healthier, the easier it’ll be to be happy with your body and progression!
So next time you’ve done a major session in the gym, ditch the scales knowing you’ve done good without a number justifying your progress. I can’t think of starting the week in any worse way than stepping onto a scale only to have your happiness and pride swiped away from you by an unreliable, unrepresentative number.