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3 Reasons NOT to Use a Scale

Posted Feb 29 2008 9:57am

Scaleby Brett Blumenthal

I travel a lot for business, and, as a result, I have gone to a lot of gyms in a lot of hotels. A lot of these gyms have scales and being human, every once in awhile I give into the temptation to ‘test’ out one of them. The last time I ‘tested’ one, I nearly fell off the scale. It reflected a 7 pound lighter me…WOOHOO! right? Not so much.

Although you would think I’d be happy about my rapid weight loss, I wasn’t. Instead, I was dumfounded as to how I could possibly weigh so much less in only a few days. It was virtually impossible. Moreover, I didn’t need to lose weight. And, lastly, it made me doubt the accuracy of my home scale…the scale I’ve used and trusted every week for the last 3 years. All of this just confirmed to me that although we as humans are mentally drawn to the scale like a moth to a flame, weighing yourself is a poor way of measuring your level of fitness, wellness and overall health.

First off, weighing yourself is only one measurement of health. It does not factor in your height, your build, your body fat, your lean muscle tissue or your bone density. When you think of your health, all of these factors need to be considered. Your weight is in a sense a broad summary of the components just mentioned. If you are 5’ 5” woman and weigh 140 pounds, you might think you are at a healthy weight. If you have a body fat percentage of 30%, however, that means you are fat. Yep…fat. However, if you are a woman, are 5’ 5” tall, weigh 140 pounds and have a body fat percentage of 22% you are probably looking like hot stuff. What does this mean? What your weight is made up of is what is important, not the actual number.

Second, if you weigh yourself on different scales at different times of the day, you don’t have a consistent point of reference. Further, if you are like me, and you are traveling across time zones, your ‘normal weigh-in time’ can shift a few hours, which might cause some differential. You could ‘weigh less’ as I did, or you could weigh ‘a lot more’. Either way, you don’t know the reality. Do you weigh more or do you weigh less? The danger in this is, depending on the number, you could delude yourself into thinking you are at a ‘good weight’ or that ‘you are fat’’ or in my case, that ‘you should or CAN eat more because you have lost too much weight.’ None of these conclusions are good because they are inaccurate…they are merely perceptions.

Lastly, your weight doesn’t measure how you look or feel. If at your healthiest point in life you were a size 6, and now you are barely squeezing into a size 10, you are probably fat…and this doesn’t mean that all you need to do is lose weight. It means you need to lose the weight that is specifically fat. Also, if you are honest with yourself and you genuinely feel good…you have lots of energy, you feel attractive in your clothes (assuming you have a healthy self-esteem), you feel healthy…there is a good chance you are healthy and that your body composition is in great condition. In short: being realistic and being observant goes much further than the number on a scale.

So, next time you feel the urge to weigh yourself every day, three times a day, with multiple scales, resist the temptation. Instead, start assessing your body composition , how your clothes fit and how you feel…these are the best indicators of your health.

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