Over the years, I have dealt with a fair amount of weigh-ins. That is, people who step on the scale too often. Some do it every day of their life. Morning and night. Some go up and down five times in ten seconds in the hope that a lower figure will magically appear between their feet. Then they do it again thirty seconds later. Sounds familiar?
No, I’m not crazy at all.
Some people surrender their personal power to the ‘almighty scale’. Sadly, your morning weigh-in will make or break your day. And their mental and emotional states. Some people think that if they step on the scale slightly, the figure may be lower. And some think that leaving part of the foot off the plate will give a better result.
A sick relationship?
In general, I am not a big fan of scales. Sure, they have a place in the world of health and fitness and sure they can be a useful resource, but all too often they become a source of anxiety, stress, and frustration. Of course, weight is a relevant issue in the process of getting fitter, healthier, and sexier, but many (many, many) people have an unhealthy relationship with their scales. Do you know such a person?
Heavy is not always bad
Before sharing the following ‘How to Weigh Sensibly’ tips, keep in mind that in terms of health, body composition is much more important than body weight. Some overweight people are relatively thin (like me) and some thin people (more) have a high percentage of body fat, which puts them at higher risk. Based on a typical height and weight chart, I am currently obese and approximately 29 pounds (13 kilograms) overweight. Actually, I am heavy (92kg, 202lbs) but I am not fat at all. My current body fat percentage is about twelve. In fact, I don’t want to be lighter because, for me, that would mean losing muscle. Watch? Weight is a problem, but it is not always.
So with all of that in mind, when should you avoid flakes?
1. Most days. In most cases, weighing yourself every day is unnecessary and unhealthy. And it often leads to obsessive thoughts and behaviors. Weekly weigh-ins are suitable for most people in most situations.
2. When you are at someone else’s house. It is better to weigh yourself on the same scale each time. That way, even if the scales aren’t perfectly calibrated, you’ll get a more accurate indication of what’s really going on with your weight.
3. When the scale costs ten dollars. As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper the scales, the less accurate they are. In my experience, most household bathroom scales are inaccurate, usually on the light side. For the past twenty years, I have heard people complain about how ‘heavy’ the scales are in my gym. Unfortunately for those customers, the scales are very accurate.
4. When it’s 8 pm and you’ve eaten a cow for dinner. Under normal conditions, we all weigh more at the end of the day. Not fatter, heavier. Natural variability means someone like me can easily weigh 6.6 to 8.8 pounds more overnight. That is why it is best for us to step on the scale at the same time of day each time. Preferably first thing in the morning.
5. When you wear hiking boots. Clothing can weigh up to 4 kilos, so weighing on skin is the preferred choice for accuracy. If that’s not possible, wear the least amount of clothing possible and wear the same clothing each time.
6. After you have completed an intense workout, unless you are measuring hydration levels before and after your workout. It’s easy to lose more than 2.2 pounds of water weight during an hour-long sweat session, so don’t be fooled by a temporarily low reading on the scale. Water is not greasy. By the way, a liter of H2O (or sweat) = a kilo. Exactly.
7. When the balance is sitting on a carpet. Make sure the scales are on a solid surface (tile, wood, concrete), otherwise your reading could be inaccurate.
8. Certain days of the month (you can skip this one, guys). I know girls don’t need to be explained, but yes, in the case of menstruating women, there will usually be between two to seven days a month that their weight temporarily swells due to increased water retention. It’s probably best to avoid flakes during this time.
9. When the idea of weighing yourself puts you in a state of anxiety. Stepping on the scale means whatever you decide it means. If you think and believe it will be a stressful experience, it will be. Weighing yourself can be a simple data-gathering exercise or it can be a traumatic event. If you can’t master your fear of scales, you may want to use another assessment tool for a while. Weekly girth measurements, monthly body composition tests, and monthly physical fitness tests are all reasonable alternatives.
10. When you are satisfied with the way it looks, feels, and works. If you look good, feel good, and are in good health, who cares about a stupid number?
Enjoy your body.