Skip to content

Get off the scales

Runter von der Waage

You can achieve better results in your body transformation and be much happier in the process if you stay off the scale. First things first - if you want to participate in the following challenge (staying off the scale), then you need to get rid of the scale. Now. Yes, I haven't told you why yet, but that doesn't matter.

So grab your scale and get rid of it.

Put it in a very unpleasant place so that you won't be tempted to get on the scale - e.g. in the attic or somewhere in the garage in a creepy corner that hasn't been cleaned since the eighties or isn't easily accessible. If you know you're going to crawl on your hands and knees into the dark abyss, then you should entrust your scale to a friend or family member.

Or - and I really like this option - take the scale outside for some target throwing.

I'll wait that long.

But seriously now. Go, put the scale away. *raises eyebrows and taps foot impatiently*

Now that you've put the scales away, we can discuss why you did that.

Who can benefit from putting the scales away

If you weigh yourself daily or in an obsessive, compulsive way, or if your mood is easily affected by the number you see on the scale, then you can definitely benefit from ditching the scale. Do you freak out when the number goes up by just one pound? Yes, this article is for you.

Do you want to look better with or without clothes, improve your health and perform better in the gym? If so, then you should read the following information. (Please note that this article is not intended for people who need to control their weight for sporting events).

Why many people weigh themselves regularly

The most common reason people give for weighing themselves daily or several times a week is that they want to keep an eye on potential weight gain. The scale serves as a kind of monitoring device.

Let me ask an important question to those to whom this applies - Why do you expect the weight you lost to suddenly come back?

Have you not adopted a new lifestyle that prevents this from happening?

Prevent the lost weight from coming back by adopting a long-term maintainable, stress-free diet and long-term maintainable eating habits. You need a diet plan that is more like a lifestyle so that you don't have to constantly worry about and focus on your body weight.

If your current eating plan has you struggling daily to maintain your weight, then I think you need to change what you are currently doing.

Don't be a dieter for life - take the time to experiment and find a diet approach and exercise program that is simple, doesn't stress you out on a daily basis and allows you to maintain your appearance/body weight with ease.

I know you'd like me to give you a simple, universal answer at this point, but there is no such thing as a holy grail that works for everyone.

Can the scales lie?

Yes, in a sense, the scales can lie.

First of all, the scale just doesn't really reveal fat loss. You can step on a scale and see a weight loss of several pounds, but that weight loss doesn't have to be fat - it could just as easily be water excretion.

Quick note: muscle doesn't weigh more than fat

This needs to be said simply - muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound is a pound - regardless of whether it is fat, muscle, bone, feathers, animal feces or lead. However, muscle has a higher density than fat.

And the fact that muscle is denser than fat is also the reason why a woman who has worked out hard often doesn't see much change on the scale, if any, despite a loss of body fat. She has simply built up muscle at the same time.

This is one reason why building muscle is a very good thing for women.

Here's a picture that shows that you can look better even if you gain weight.

This woman may have gained 9 pounds, but she still looks leaner, tighter and more athletic because she lost body fat and built muscle. Good thing she didn't let the number on the scale drive her crazy!

Last week I asked the following question:

Do you weigh yourself every day or most days of the week? Do you think your mood can be easily affected by the number you see?

I got over 100 responses, but here are a few that I found particularly interesting:

I've never been in better shape, but the scale was telling me otherwise! It's so frustrating, but I'm learning to ignore it! But why is that the case?

That statement really confused me! This poor woman thinks she's in the best shape of her life, but the scale shows she's at a higher weight than she thinks is appropriate. I'm willing to bet that if she had never stepped on the scale and simply gone by how she felt and looked, she would have been overjoyed with her success. In this case, the scale did indeed lie to her.

And this answer:

I recently started working out with weights and bought a BIA scale to monitor my progress. After two weeks of working out and eating right, I felt great and my boyfriend was convinced that I had lost weight. However, I got carried away with the scales and weighed myself two to three times a day. After 2 weeks I compared my weight to my starting weight and there was no difference. I was so desperate that I had to lie down first. The scale made me question my dedication to this type of fitness even though I felt stronger and healthier.

This woman also felt better and saw the results of her efforts, but because the scale was not in line with her thoughts, she felt like she had failed. So the scale was lying to her too.

Did you notice something very important? Both women were happy with their progress and felt great. But because the number on the scale didn't do what they expected, it affected their mood negatively. Has something like this happened to you?

The deceptive "ideal weight"

Many women are constantly chasing their ideal weight. Maybe it's a weight from college or high school, or maybe it's their pre-pregnancy weight. Either way, many women have a number in their head and they think "If only I could weigh X kilos, then I'd be happy."

I have discouraging news for you if you are chasing that magic number. It's more than likely that even once you reach it, you still won't be happy.

I know this because I've seen it time and time again. Even when some reach that perceived ideal weight, they find more things they want to improve or correct. It's a never-ending cycle.

My recommendation is to stop trying to reach an ideal weight. This is just one of the many reasons that you shouldn't have specific fat loss goals.

This brings me to a great tweet from Chris Shugar that I saw a few weeks ago:

Train for your looks, not for a number on the scale.

A simple, powerful statement. And I love it.

Would you rather look and feel great and maintain that look with minimal stress or would you rather be constantly on the hunt for an "ideal number" like I described above?

Forget the number on the scale - train and eat for the look you want to achieve and forget everything else - especially a stupid number on the scale. Remember that numbers don't define you.

My current experience

I decided to stay off the scale for a few months (ended up being 4 months) and did what I've been doing for years - exercising hard and eating healthy. I also took some measurements for later comparison.

The only thing I changed during those four months was my exercise program. I started working out almost every day and alternated back and forth between upper body and lower body workout days. I know many now think I'm crazy for working out daily, but I have my own power rack and barbell at home and most workouts were only 30 minutes long.

My goal was to have fun training, focus on my performance and train as often as possible. I enjoyed my workouts and I felt great. My clothes fit well and I thought I looked great too.

After four months of regular workouts that I was enjoying and a diet that was similar to the last few years, I got back on the scale and took new measurements.

The result: I had gained 4 pounds.

Before this little experiment, I weighed an average of 125 pounds and now I weigh about 129 pounds.

What had happened? Had I gained fat?

I don't think so. According to my measurements, I had gained some muscle in my shoulders and thighs, while my waist circumference had stayed the same.

During the four-month phase, I was doing squats and shoulder presses several times a week, which would explain the gain in my shoulders and hips (which is what I wanted).

Bottom line: I didn't expect the weight to go up on the scale, but I wasn't worried about this because I felt great and my performance on some exercises improved and my waist circumference didn't increase.

What about controlling body fat percentage?

This may frustrate or even shock some people, but I don't think you should focus too much on body fat percentage. In fact, if you don't know where your body fat percentage is, I wouldn't encourage you to find out. If you just want to look good, feel great, perform well at the gym and fit into your favorite clothes, why do you need to know your body fat percentage?

Let me tell you a quick story. Back when I was in college, I took a class that involved measuring body fat using hydrostatic weighing. One of my fellow students was a swimmer on the University of Louisville team. She was slim, strong and had a strong sense of confidence about her body.

She had no problem putting on a swimsuit and going to the hydrostatic tank before a class of about 25 people.

A few minutes later we had the results of the test and her calculated body fat was around 20 percent.

She looked horrified when she heard "20 percent body fat". Her demeanor changed very quickly and she didn't smile once for the rest of the class.

This young athlete was constantly smiling before the test because she knew she looked great and she felt strong and confident. The body fat percentage that was revealed soon after changed her perception quickly and drastically.

Why did a single number suddenly make her feel insecure? What did it matter that she had a 20 percent body fat percentage if she looked and felt absolutely fantastic and was performing well in her sport?

This is the reason I recommend that most people refrain from checking their body fat percentage as well. This can play nasty mind games with you.

Here's your new scale

Some people will wonder how they can accurately monitor their progress if they are told to put the scale away and not measure their body fat percentage. However, there are several other indicators you can monitor that I believe are more accurate and don't fluctuate nearly as much on a daily basis as body weight.

The first four are the most important in my opinion

Use the following tools as your new "scales":

  • How you look in the mirror
  • How your clothes fit
  • Are you following simple, stress-free dietary guidelines?
  • How you feel. Do you feel strong and healthy. Do you feel better than ever before? Do you have more energy? Are you performing well at the gym or other activities? Do you find the tasks of daily life easier?
  • Focus on your actions. Are you eating well? Are you exercising consistently? Are your actions in line with your goals?
  • Increased self-confidence and a better body image. This is what really matters and it's one of the many benefits of strength training.
  • This is not necessary, but some people like to control and watch some numbers. If this applies to you, then check some body measurements such as hip circumference, waist circumference, thigh circumference and arm circumference.

Your challenge

Put the scales aside for 30 days - at least.

Use the "new scale" above - especially the first four points I listed. I firmly believe you will be pleasantly surprised by the results and the new mindset this challenge will bring.

By Nia Shanks


Previous article 6 supplements that fight inflammation