Why is it that we put such immense emphasis on how much we weigh? For too long now we have been made to believe that somehow our weight is an indicator of our attractiveness and, to some degree, our success. How can this be true?
That little scary machine hiding behind the bathroom sink is a bit of a liar and tends to make you feel bad about yourself. Let’s be honest, if you had a friend like that you would absolutely dodge their calls! So why do we jump back on the scales time and time again if it is so unreliable?
In terms of measuring fitness progression, weighing scales are completely inept. How can they measure your strength and flexibility? What about the feeling of wellbeing and positivity that exercise and healthy eating gives you – how can the scales capture these wonderful feelings? After all, it is these feelings that keep us motivated to exercise and make healthy choices.
Your weight fluctuates every single day, multiple times during the day. You could weigh yourself first thing in the morning and be delighted with the result, weigh yourself five hours later and chances are it’ll show something different – often what you don’t want to see – this will drive you nuts. If you get a good result you’re made up for the day, but are the scales telling you the truth?
I have seen clients lash out on bingey, boozy weekends and lose weight on the scales. How is this fair? How is this accurate? The answer is, it is completely inaccurate and can lead to a very confused, unhealthy attitude to living well.
Good health can’t always be measured in pounds.
I feel the healthier, more accessible and realistic approach is to focus on our inner and outer strength. Focus on progress in areas that have true value, not something that changes depending on how many times you’ve peed in the day!
Some might argue it’s a good kick start, and while I do agree that it can be helpful from time to time, but all too often it becomes the main focus and this is a very unhealthy approach. Progress is measured in terms of loss not gains. What about the enormous gains to be enjoyed when you are fitter, stronger and more health conscious:
- More energy
- Brighter, clearer skin
- Boost in self esteem
- Better sleep
- Clarity of mind
- Strong body, strong mind
- Longer life
- Better sex
- More positive outlook on life
Whether you are setting out on a journey of fitness discovery or you are a certified fitness fanatic, finding ways, other than the scales, to measure your progress is incredibly important.
I encourage my clients to focus on other aspects of their body, to think about it more holistically and in a more positive, balanced way. From experience, this is a healthy and positive way to get to where you want to be.
- Focus on a favourite item of clothing, one that makes you feel confident and happy. Try it on once a month. How you feel in this is gives you a good indication of how much work you have done and how much you have left to accomplish.
- Aim to make as many meals as possible as healthy as possible and track your progress. Use the “clean and colourful” test. Is your food clean i.e. not deep fried and drowning in processed sauces? Is your food colourful – think vegetables, fruits and colourful foods that are full of vitamins and minerals.
- How do you feel emotionally? The hard work boosts self-esteem, confidence, and happiness. Are you beginning to feel more comfortable in your body? Work to building positive affirmations into your vocabulary to stay motivated.
- Have physical fitness goals & track your progress. Build up from a walk to a 3/5km jog. Time your walks/jogs and try to improve your speed. Aim to squat / lift a heavier weight. Hold plank for longer etc.
These goals are real, they won’t change from one time of the day to the next and when achieved really have deeper impact. They are the results of hard work, dedication and persistence. They represent strength, power and fitness.
I can understand if you need a tangible measure of progress. I would focus on body fat percentage or measurements of parts of your body if so. These give a clear, complete view of your progress.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to weight loss and fitness. But I think we can all agree that we are doing this to feel better about ourselves. We eat healthier and work out because we know it makes us feel good (and of course we all want to look good in those jeans). If you want to lose body fat and tone up those wobbly bits that you aren’t keen on – this is ok – but try not to lose your self-confidence in the process. Add to your life, it’s about gaining rather than losing, strong not skinny.
Pic by @NathalieMC