It’s one of the most common mistakes I see when trying to lose weight and increase a person’s body composition and you’re probably guilty of this too. I’m talking about the fixation with the scales and heck, I was there too. I actually got obsessed with it and weighed myself more than once a day at one point (of course, it didn’t help that I was competitively involved in a sport where weight played such an important factor.)
The trouble with the scales is that they don’t tell the whole picture of what’s going on with your body weight. In a previous article, I spoke about body composition and what it meant (You can read it by >> clicking here <<)
Basically, your body weight is comprised of organs, muscle, fat, bones and fluid. The trouble is, the scale doesn’t give you an indication as to whether the weight you’re gaining is muscle, fat or other wise.
The second problem is that muscle weighs more than fat. A pound of muscle takes up less volume than a pound of fat due to it weighing more so whilst you’re training, especially if you’re doing a resistance training plan. You may not lose weight as fast as you want because you’re gaining lean muscle mass and you’ll probably end up frustrated that your diet and training plan are not working when in fact, you could actually be losing a lot more fat than you thought.
Focusing just on weight as your primary goal also opens yourself up to allowing yourself to lose muscle as since the main goal is to lose weight, you’ll be happy to see the number on the scale go down even if it is fluid weight or muscle weight. The problem here is that if burning fat is of importance (And it should be) along with becoming stronger and healthier, then the ultimate goal should be to gain lean muscle and burn body fat. Lean muscle tissue is metabolically active so in order to increase your metabolic rate, you’re going to need to preserve or add lean muscle tissue.
The trouble is, weight management programs that rely on the scales as their main assessment criteria instead of overall body composition. Popular prgrams like weight watchers and slimming clubs where they have weigh ins and don’t analyse body composition do their members a massive disservice because there’s little or no way of telling their clients as to whether they’re gaining muscle as well as losing body fat – when it’s just general weight, you could be celebrated for losing muscle and when there’s pressure to get weighed in, then the chances are people could rely on the wrong type of diets such as incredibly low calorie diets in combination with exercise that can cause rapid weight gain which would generally mean a loss in muscle mass.
This often leads to the yo yo dieting trend where people put on weight and in many cases, more than before they started the program due to a drop in metabolic rate.
The key therefore is to focus on a different assessment criteria, Body composition! By assessing over all body fat and lean muscle as opposed to just weight, an individual will have more of an idea as to whether their training is on the right track.
Further more, as the following image demonstrates, losing weight is not what it’s all that it’s cracked up to be, but losing fat and gaining muscle will have a far more positive impact on your overall body appearance than just weight.
I myself have been more focussed now on gaining muscle than losing weight and although I still check my weight to make sure I am not losing, the focus for me is body composition. I look and feel a lot better for having gained muscle I can assure you.
So, the bottom line is not to stop weighing yourself all together, it can still prove useful but don’t get fixated on the numbers. Weighing yourself regularly doesn’t tell you the whole picture and you’re better off focusing on a different marker for fitness, whether it’s body composition or simply, how you look in the mirror.