If you know me, you’ve probably already heard my rant about this topic. If you haven’t, then I am glad you’re here as this is super important to me. I felt the need to talk about this after a conversation I had with a client last week. So here’s a little story time for you. This client has been working hard towards a specific weight loss and strength goal. She has been super consistent and started seeing progress; which has made her super proud. Until she went to the doctors for her physical…
At this appointment a nurse weighed her on scale, as I am sure many of your doctor’s offices do as well. She had lost 3 pounds since her last doctor’s appointment a year prior - the same point in time when her doctor warned her that her weight was bordering the unhealthy category and prescribed her with more physical activity. The doctor told her that to be deemed back in the “healthy” category she had to drop back down to 140 pounds. Since she did not weigh 140 pounds at this follow up appointment she immediately felt defeated and lost her motivation.
All her consistency, dedication, and progress for nothing…
All of this disappointment because one number on a scale didn’t read what she was told was “healthy”.
Now, excuse my language, but that is BS. One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the exact same. A scale does not know the difference between the two. But, I assure you, the mirror can see the difference. Your clothes know the difference. Your friends and family can see the difference. Your happiness, health, and well-being know the difference. These pictures below show three different people at the same weight in both pictures but with different body compositions.
You can see the difference body composition makes. If the person in the right of these pictures were only measuring their progress on a scale, they wouldn't see any change. This is exactly why I wish and hope people don't solely depend on a scale to tell them whether or not they are accomplishing their goals.
Why did this doctor have such a set idea that 140 pounds would be healthy for my client? They most likely used her BMI in order to calculate what would be a “healthy” weight. BMI stands for body mass index, and is calculated via this formula:
BMI = (weight in kg) / [(height in m)^2]
Now, as you can notice, this formula completely neglects to consider what amount of that body weight is fat. A better measurement to determine where you stand is body composition. That refers to how much percentage of your body weight is fat mass versus lean mass. Lean mass is the good stuff, it includes muscle, bones, organs, skin, water, etc. And don’t get me wrong, some fat mass is absolutely necessary to be a functioning, living human. The amount of fat that is absolutely required is called essential fat. For men essential fat is 2-5% of your body weight, and for women essential fat is 10-13%. Check out the chart below to better understand what body fat percentages are average:
My goal in talking about this is to help you better understand how to measure your health and fitness level, while also understanding how to measure progress. If a new client comes to me with a specific weight loss goal, (ie. I want to weigh 150 pounds) I almost always make them change this goal. Most people aim for a weight loss goal because they want to look better, want their clothes to fit better, or want to be overall healthier. All of these goals can be accomplished by changing your body composition rather than your weight.
I have personally experienced something similar to the client I mentioned at the beginning of this. At my last doctor’s appointment I was weighed on a scale. At this point in time I weighed 160 pounds and was 19% body fat (obviously a healthy weight and healthy body fat percentage). My doctor was pretty quick to point out that my BMI was in the overweight category and started lecturing me about eating healthy and staying active. She told me that someone of my height and age should weigh less than that. I immediately felt that same feeling of defeat that my client told me about. Even though I knew for sure that I was extremely active and lived a very healthy life, I still was somehow consumed by my doctor’s words.
So, I am here talking about this now in hopes that you don’t also build an unhealthy relationship with the number on the scale. I fear that other people have had experiences like this and by default have associated being a “healthy” weight with a number on a scale. And, unfortunately, they probably set themselves up for constant disappointment.
Instead, I encourage you to focus on eating mindfully, being active, and taking care of your body. If you continue to stay consistent with that, I promise the results you are hoping for will come. I can also promise you that if you assign your happiness to a number on the scale, you will reach that number and find that happiness does not automatically come with it. Find a way to prioritize being healthier everyday and the positive results will overwhelm you!
If you need some help with setting goals that do not only revolve around a number on the scale, please reach out to our team! We would love to help you determine where you are at now and where you want to go!