The Scale is Bull$&!#
Welcome to the first article of our “Sunday Soundoff” by the RCFBC/SciCoh coaching staff. Our goal is to inspire you, educate you, make you think, make you laugh or even do all four at once by getting on a personal soap box and sounding off once a week. At the end we will try to wrap it up with a big so what – something that you can take away and hopefully use to add value to your fitness and/or life journey. If in the end there is no utility to be found, hopefully we at least helped you fall asleep on a Sunday night 🙂
Thus, I begin with my profound hatred for the scale…
Yep, I said it – the scale is BS. For decades we have been programmed to obsess over and use our weight as THE metric of our health. I mean seriously – that one little number has driven tons of people into depression and worse. It turns out though that the scale is a big, fat, overweight (see what I did there?) farce. Nay, it’s a damn dirty lie. In fact, we have been brainwashed of its importance so effectively over the years that it even clouds our understanding of what we REALLY want.
Take for example a new person that walks through our doors. I ask every single one the same two questions. Why are you here? What is it that you are trying to accomplish? 9 times out of 10 after about 3 minutes of talking, they eventually get to – “I want to lose weight.” Ehhhhhhh (think buzzer sound) try again. Often what they really want is to look good naked! Decrease the size of that belly and those hips. Wow worlds with the tone of their muscles. Other times they really just want to feel better physically and mentally or improve their blood work numbers. Yes, sometimes weight loss is a byproduct of the journey to reach the true goals BUT many times weight GAIN is the yield!
Let’s use two examples to prove my point.
Example 1: As you know, I just returned from a two week honeymoon to Italy where I successfully set a 2 week PR for pizza consumption (8 whole pizzas in 13 days) and laziness (1 workout in 13 days). I’m a geek and couldn’t wait to see what the scale said upon my return. I had a feeling what would happen and yep – LOST 2 lbs. Wow, I am a freak of nature! I can eat anything I want and become sedentary because the scale went down! Wooo whoo. Now let’s consider the other facts. The repping weight for both my squat and bench press is down 20lbs. I completed a benchmark WOD 20 seconds off my PR pace and actually had fleeting thoughts of my death both during and afterwards – it was less than a 3 minute WOD. So the scale of BS told me that everyone should be jealous of my superior genetics while the REAL metrics told me that I am not superman and I got exactly what I deserved. To be clear, neither result said anything about whether or not I am indeed batman. What really happened is for 2 weeks I was at a protein deficit (damn thin sliced meats) while at the same time I ignored any kind of maintenance or building of strength. As a result, my body started processing muscle for fuel. Given the density of muscle vs. fat, my overall mass declined but so did my strength and LEAN body mass. In laymen’s terms, I was lighter but fatter and weaker. In other words, I’ll gladly take my 2 lbs back (and then some) if I can get my strength and lean body mass back.
Example 2: RCFBC member, Rob “Captain Stache” Baynes. Rob came in with a thinner build which should not be confused with a lean build. Yes he was thin but his lean body mass and overall strength were lacking. Very quickly he lost 10 lbs but now after 2 years….drumroll please…he is 12 lbs heavier than when he walked through those doors. He’s stronger, he moves better, and most importantly he looks like a freakin’ stud coming out of the shower (editors note: this is hearsay from his wife, but I believe her and have no plans to validate). If weight was the metric that Rob used to measure his success, the story would be completely wrong.
So hopefully you get my point. Ladies – you tend to be the worst culprits here, so let me say this – the most beautiful, confident, fittest, and amazing women I know are literally some of the heaviest ladies I know when compared to others of their stature. This brings us to the so what…
The so what: Ditch any habit, reliance, or obsession you may have with what a scale says. Instead, do some soul searching on what your goals really are and figure out the true metrics. If your goals are vanity related, awesome – I’ll take your body measurements, you take pictures, and we can both look for changes. If it’s for overall health, document your energy levels and track your blood work. As long as the real metrics indicate you are on the right track, then enjoy your progress, be proud of your hard work, and throw that damn scale away!