We’ve all been there, at some point, staring at that number on the scales that dictates how good we should feel about ourselves. But training our minds to equate enjoyment with an arbitrary figure, can create a damaging mentality, which relies too heavily on a number to decide how we feel or act.
When we want to measure our health and fitness progress, the scales simply aren’t the best tool. In fact, they fail to tell the whole story. Because weight isn’t always fat, it can be muscle. Keeping a lower body fat percentage can be far more important for your health than having a lower overall weight. Plus, even if you’re at a healthy weight, it still doesn’t mean you’re not at risk of developing certain health problems.
With this in mind, the Macro team wanted to go through the main reasons why paying too much attention to the number on the scales, isn’t always a good measure of your health and fitness…
BODYWEIGHT CAN FLUCTUATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY
So, straight away it’s important to remember that your bodyweight can actually fluctuate. It may be heavier or lighter over the course of a day, for a number of reasons. Depending on what you eat, what you drink and when and how you exercise during a given day.
Since our bodies are mainly water, even how well we keep ourselves hydrated can cause significant weight fluctuations, which are not really a proper indication of how much you actually weigh. Real change in your bodyweight can actually be hidden because things like, eating a fibrous or salty meal, hormonal changes, or just having a full bowel can make measuring normal fat or weight loss more difficult.
BMI ISN’T A PERFECT MEASURE OF HEALTH
Your Body mass index, or BMI, measures your weight compared to your height. It can be an indication of whether or not you are overweight, and therefore more at risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death. However, BMI isn’t a perfect measure, and the scales can’t differentiate between muscle, fat, water or anything else. Even those who have a normal BMI range, may have too little muscle and too much body fat.
Now of course it’s fair to say that weight is tied to your health, but your body composition can shift without any change on the scale reflecting this. If you start gaining muscle, losing body fat and improving hydration you may step on the scales to find nothing’s really changed. Also your appetite may increase due to more exercise, as your body will be wanting to replace the energy being burned off.
Our age also effects body composition, as the proportion of muscle can decrease and the proportion of body fat can increase as we get older. This can slow down our metabolism, making it easier to gain weight even if you don’t change your diet or exercise routine.
The scales simply measure the relationship your body mass has with gravity. So, it’s important to remember that if you put on muscle and lose fat, then it’s likely that you might even be heavier, despite feeling fitter and healthier.
IT’S TIME TO FOCUS ON FEELINGS
Scales measure how heavy you are, but that’s it. They don’t measure your true fitness levels, they don’t put a number on your self-worth, and they can’t tell you how you feel. The best way of measuring how your diet, meal plan, or exercise regime is ‘working’ is to measure how you’re feeling, both physically and mentally.
Do you feel like you’re better at adopting healthier habits? Does focusing on your fitness come naturally? Are you thinking about your mental health when your weighing yourself?
Your mental health is the most important aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. Being aware of what makes us anxious and practicing mindfulness can’t be measured on a scale, but they can all help you to focus more on your behaviours, instead of the numbers. Ask yourself if you’re enjoying the healthy activities that you do, and if you like the diet you’re on. Focus on yourself and not what you think society wants you to weigh or look like.
Remember, your body won’t necessarily respond to a similar change in nutrition or exercise routine in the same way as someone else, and recognising this will help you to avoid feelings of unnecessary dissatisfaction. Think about all the small things you can do that can make a big difference, such as exercising even without the gym, cutting back on alcohol, or starting a new meal prep plan.
Aim for consistency and focus on your behaviours, because you can achieve your health and fitness goals, no matter what the scales say.