Forget It I Am Not Stepping On That Stupid Scale! – Chapter Two
It’s staring at you, daring you to place your right foot on and then your left only to reveal a number that causes a feeling of accomplishment and hope.
Or it exposes a feeling that crushes any degree of fitness success that you thought you were experiencing.
It’s that bleeping scale.
It has been with us since we were born when we had no emotional attachment to it and it has traveled with us through time.
Remember the awkward teenage years when we had the idea that we all had to be 5 foot 9 and 120 pounds?
We couldn’t control our height but that number on the scale became our obsession.
Yet we shamefully hide our dependency of it and seek that perfect number.
That perfect freakin’ number!
We still deny it has any power on us and believe we are stronger.
Here’s the truth.
WE DEFINITELY ARE MORE THAN A NUMBER!
Now, here’s the hard truth.
WE NEED NUMBERS TO ASSESS PROGRESS.
But what does that look like?
It is not just the scale that can give us numbers. There are many measurements of success and numbers that we can use.
Weight Loss Measurements
This is the tough one.
The only thing that accurately measures weight loss IS THE SCALE.
Now, if weight loss is not your goal then do not step on the scale!
There is no need to sabatoge a strength goal or body composition goal by stepping on the scale because you might not be happy with the number that is revealed because it could or most likely will go up.
That number does not tell the whole story.
As we have discussed, the scale is your instrument of measure however do not let it control you or discourage you.
Our weight (in particular women’s) can fluctuate dramatically in the course of a day. Up to 5 pounds of water weight.
Imagine too during menstruation! Ahhhh.
The best time to weigh yourself consistently is first thing in the morning when you get up after you use the washroom and are completely naked!
Keep this routine consistent and you eliminate discrepencies that other times of day can create.
Try not to weigh yourself everyday as then the scale controls YOU! Weekly weigh-ins are fine as long as you use the same day of the week and the same time of the morning.
Fat Loss Measurements
Our body composition refers to the ratio of lean muscle mass to fat mass.
The best measure of body fat is costly and not very convienent.
For most, the calipers can be used to determine body fat percentage.
This little device gently pinches the subcutaneous fat layer at certain pinch points. The most accurate is the 10 point pinch but most trainers are sufficient with the 3 point pinch.
There is about a 10% margin of error so like any measurement use it as a base point. Does it go up? Does it go down?
The measurements are then put into a ratio formula using height, weight and age to calculate.
I always struggled with the age factor but as we age we have more visceral fat (fat around organs) so this comes in to play.
From my own experience the 10 point pinch does not factor in age but other factors like head circumerance, foot length and femur length. So basically skeletal size.
If you want the most accurate number then you would find a facility that does a water displacement test.
Think of getting into a full tub, how high does the water rise?
This is maybe my favorite assessment tool.
Basically, how heavy can you lift compared to when you started!
This is empowering and there is really no margin of error – so win win!
What is important when using strength measurements is to have a detailed program that tracks your progress.
Without it, you have nothing to push you, drive you or hold you accountable.
One week your back squat may be 100lbs and the next week you just add 5 pounds or add one more set!
These are strength gains that should be recorded!
Muscle Gain Measurements
Bring out the tape measure!
Muscle gain means more size (bigger muscle) which can be assessed best with a tape measure.
A skilled trainer can take your bicep, chest, waist, hip (booty) and thigh measurements.
I suggest using the same trainer each time as we all take it at a slightly different spot.
Event Based Measurements
This one is kind of an easy one.
Did you complete the event or race?
Did you have a time goal and did you achieve that?
This can be your baseline for the next race or event.
When it’s all said and done, measurements are crucial for tracking your success.
We just need to use them appropriately and not be run by the numbers.
Most of us are not world class athletes that need to have the right numbers and the right times of our training.
We just need to know which way they are going, up or down.
I encourage all of you to take the time to ask yourself if you are driving the numbers or are they driving you?