Do you have a scale at your house?
Yes, I’m talking to you.
You know that metal square that sits in your bathroom hidden behind the toilet. You tend to pull it out when you’re ready to inflict some self-torture or maybe, motivation to get ready for bathing suit season?
Can you do me a favor?
Can you walk to the bathroom, pick it up firmly, open the window, and hurl it out please? (First, make sure no one is in its’ trajectory).
You ask why?
Because I just threw mine out. And I want to start a throw out your scale revolution. (I’d also like to not look crazy).
But seriously, how many of us live and die by that silly piece of metal with numbers on it?
You step on it- weigh 3 pounds lighter, you confidently think, yes I’m going to wear my skinny jeans. A week later you step on it again and your 5 pounds heavier. You feel your heart sink and that little inner voice reminds you of the pint of Haagen Dazs you ate last night. Ugh.
- How has the scale claimed so much power over us?
- More importantly, what does the scale actually tell us?
We need to once and for all elucidate the truth of what a scale’s actual purpose is.
Generally speaking, most of us use a scale to determine if we are getting fatter (gaining weight). Whether consciously or not, we also allow it to inform how we feel about our body and ourselves.
But is the scale really a solid indicator of that? I think not.
In exact terms, a scale assigns a value in pounds or kilograms to all of your body parts, including your nose but not forgetting your left pinky toe, but also your brain, all of your blood, all of the water hydrating your tissues, your joints, your muscle and connective tissue, and your fat stores. Everything that makes up the contents of the complicated, delicate human being that you are.
I use this dramatic yet accurate example to illustrate a point. The scale measures the aggregate (your entire body) and doesn’t tell you anything about one individual element (fat stores). So why we use the scale as the gold standard to decide how we feel about our body, how healthy we are, or even how fat we are makes little sense.
Especially in light of the fact there are many different ways to manipulate the number on the scale. You can easily dehydrate yourself or stop eating carbs for a few weeks and lose 10 pounds. You can also starve yourself, breaking down your own muscle for nutrients and lose weight. You could also cut off your right foot. That too would lower the number on the scale. Still none of these have anything to do with how fat you are.
The other issue the scale fails to address is density.
A pound of fat and a pound of muscle weigh exactly the same, however each takes up a different amount of space. Meaning, muscle is denser than fat, so a pound of muscle takes up less space and appears smaller than 1 pound of fat.
Woman A: 125 pounds, 19% body fat
Woman B: 125 pounds, 28% body fat
Even though Woman A is the same weight as Woman B because she has less body fat she will look smaller and wear a much smaller size in clothes.
You’ll glean none of this information from your scale.
A superior alternative to using a scale to determine body fat is a Dexa scan. However it is costly, so if you don’t have hundreds of dollars, using photos, a tape measure, or body fat calipers will work just fine. All of these methods will give you a much more accurate understanding of if you are getting small or bigger, fatter or leaner, etc.
And just one last thing…
Even though we go to the scale to weigh ourselves, isn’t what we’re really after simply – looking sexy naked or having energy? Don’t we just want to feel healthy and confident?
So again, what does the scale have to do with this?
I say nothing.
So please join the revolution.
Throw out your scale.