“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
It haunts you. You see it every time you enter the bathroom. It’s calling to you. All you have to do is step on it, and either joy or devastation will immediately follow. The rest of your day will be altered by a number. While many health professionals will tell you to get on the scale every day, I think you should scrap the scale altogether, or at least limit yourself to once a month. Today, I want to talk about why the scale is one of the worst measurements of health, and provide you with some alternatives that will help you measure real progress.
The scale does not differentiate between fat and muscle
Unfortunately while many people have tried, there has not been an accurate scale built to measure fat and muscle independently. There are many brands that advertise this feature but research has shown as much as a 20% margin of error. Hydrostatic weighing is still considered the most accurate form of measuring body fat, but most of us don’t have the equipment or the pool necessary for this activity. Instead we settle for the scale, a tool that measures our entire mass, and then spits out one number to tell us how we are doing.
What about BMI?
Body Mass Index is a formula used by the medical field. BMI uses the formula BMI=kg/m(2). This is body weight in kg (2) divided by height in meters. A healthy range is considered 18.5 to 24.9, anything over 25 is considered overweight. The same problem exists with the BMI as it does with the scale. It does not account for muscle mass. Two people of the same height who weigh the same may have a 20lbs difference in muscle mass. This would mean that the person without the muscle has 20lbs more fat. The scale and the BMI will not account for the difference. Deep down inside you already knew all this, but you have been convinced that these numbers mean something.
How can I measure progress without the scale?
- LOOK! There is not better way to see progress then to look in a mirror. I suggest taking progress photos. You can take these once a week, and then you will have an easy reference for comparison. You look at yourself every day, so you may not notice the small differences if you can’t look back. Make sure you use the same mirror, and stand in the exact same spot. I also suggest you wear the same underwear.
- Pay attention to how your clothes feel. One of the easiest ways to measure weight loss is by paying attention to whether your clothes feel looser or tighter.
- Look at other health markers. There are many numbers more important to your health than your weight. Things like blood pressure, heart rate, and nutrient levels can all be excellent ways of checking different aspects of your health.
- Set non-weight related health goals. There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight if you have weight that needs to be lost. What you need to remember is that there are so many health goals that, when achieved, will result in a healthier you. I’ve listed a few goals below as an example. Focus on being healthy and the weight will come off as a positive side effect.
- Complete a 20min workout 5x a week
- Eat 2 servings of vegetables at every meal
- Replace all beverages with water
- Go to bed early enough to get 8 hours of rest
You are NOT a number
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that you are not valued because of your weight. You are valued for who you are and not what you look like. If your health is preventing you from being who you are, then it’s time to make some changes. Keep making healthy decisions one day at a time!
Eat your veggies!