The Scale: Good or Evil?

The high and mighty scale. We find ourselves staring this monster in the face morning after morning in hopes to see a different number than yesterday. Why is this so important to so many people? It’s important because it’s the only way to track your “body weight” related progress. It’s concrete data, it’s real life and it definitely doesn’t lie to you. Well, what if I told you that that scale is in fact providing a false representation of your progress?

Before we dive into the nitty gritty, I’d just like to make a few important things understood. A scale is a very useful and important tool for many individuals. Take some athletes for example. Many sports require athletes to train within certain weight classes. This includes powerlifters, bodybuilders, mixed martial artists, wrestlers and more. To them, the scale is their most important piece of equipment as it ensures that they make weight accordingly, fitting into the appropriate weight class. Sometimes, certain individuals are required to drop body weight drastically for certain types of surgery and other medical reasons. Notice how I said “body weight” and not “body fat”. This is an important distinction. Those who need to drop weight quickly for medical reasons are not often concerned about maintaining their strength and/or muscle mass. They’re required to drop as much weight as needed, and this usually comes in the form of adipose tissue (body fat), muscle, stored glycogen and water.

True Strength’s tagline is “Strong, Fully Functional & Pain Free”. Although our priority is always optimal movement and performance, that’s not to say that we don’t experience other positive changes too. When we favor such things as strength and conditioning, as we do at the studio, we also see the perfect recipe needed to lose excess body fat, increase lean muscle mass and improve overall athleticism. It’s not uncommon that trainees of our basic strength and conditioning protocols, over time, end up falling within the “look good naked” category as well as being strong, mobile and healthy.

This leads me directly to the point that overall, the average trainee looking to achieve these said goals do not need to check the scale every morning. Here’s a great example. If over the course of one year an individual loses only ten pounds of body fat BUT adds ten pounds of lean muscle mass, this means that the individual weighs the exact same, but they look a hell of a lot better than before. Just to put this into perspective for comparative reasons; one pound of fat looks something like a medium sized bad of marshmallows, whereas one pound of muscle looks something like a large apple. So, picture the loss of TEN medium sized bags of marshmallows from your body and then the addition of TEN large apples, spread evenly as firm, defined, lean muscle mass.

The bigger picture is not to stress about body weight, mainly for the general population participating in strength and conditioning related protocols, because as you begin to shed the fat, you’re also beginning to add moderate amounts of lean muscle mass. The scale may drop slightly, it may plateau and it may even go up a little, but just remember, you’re in it for the long haul, removing the marshmallows and adding the apples, only to leave you feeling strong, mobile, healthy AND with an aesthetically pleasing physique.

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One thought on “The Scale: Good or Evil?

  1. Theresa Forget

    Thank you Robert, for this very informative and inspirational piece of information. For years I was addicted to the scale and if I missed getting on it in the morning, I actually felt sick, and disappointed because I thought that would put on weight if I didn’t see it every day. But with a lot of time and patients and guidance from you as my trainer, I no longer have that need to see a scale. I only weigh myself out of curiosity now. Thank you.

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