Breakup with your scale, already!

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Does that picture give you the chills too? Yeah, scary. I know. Here’s the thing… that is a completely valid fear to have. Growing up, no one ever talked about girls lifting weights or working out, no one ever told me that the number on the scale was hardly a recognition of my health, no one ever talked about anything other than “skinny” or “fat.” This is such a toxic thing to grow up with because the number on that scale is not a true reflection of your physical health. In developing stages for children, it is absolutely something to monitor, however, as adults, it is pretty damn close to unnecessary to step on a scale, with exception of course.

I will tell you right now that the only time I will weigh myself is when I am required to at the doctor’s office. I am reluctant to tell people my weight, not because of the number, but because that gives it more meaning than what it’s worth. However, I know myself, and I know that if weighing myself is something I do regularly, I will fuss and obsess over that number until I am happy with what I see. Does that mean that day will ever come? Hell no! Even knowing that the number on the scale doesn’t reflect how healthy I am, I grew up with a toxic mentality that it means more than it does, and unfortunately that just hasn’t left me.

Here’s the main reason that number doesn’t reflect how healthy you are:

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You can look much leaner and slimmer, but you might weigh more because muscle is much much denser than fat… Like a whopping 18% denser. Muscle is made of tightly wound fibers that are bound together, to stretch and pull with movement and force, whereas fat is composed of different sized molecules that bind together without any particular pattern. In the picture above, you can see that these two compositions are the exact same weight, but look very different and take up completely different amounts of space. Your bathroom scale cannot decipher between fat and muscle — it is just taking a brief measurement.

I would like to crack a myth really quick… weight training does not just turn fat into muscle. There is no magic fairy that waves her magic wand and poof your fat has turned to muscle. Nope. Muscle and fat are two very different substances. However, by building muscle via exercises like weight training, you are raising your resting metabolism, which means you are burning more calories in a day and encouraging fat to get lost, baby!

It is important to note that a certain amount of body fat is a good thing, believe it or not! It helps our body function by regulating our body temperature, storing extra energy, producing sex hormones, and even cushioning our bones, organs and tissues by acting as a shock absorber. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a body fat percentage of 10–22% for men, and 20–32% for women.

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You may also find that your body weight fluctuates from day to day if you are someone who weighs themselves regularly. Water weight plays a huge factor in this, and is another major reason why that number on the scale doesn’t accurately reflect our health . Water weight can change with a higher intake of sodium or sugar, stress, menstrual cycles, and more. This article from Pure Gym has some great information and goes further into detail about water weight retention, and makes some really great points about how the water molecules bond to glycogen molecules, which is why we retain the weight from water as we do.

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Long story short, your scale can’t tell anything other than the momentary weight of when you standing on it. So many variables can make that number fluctuate from day to day, and especially if you are working out and weight training, you cannot read into that number too much. It is so much more important to feel comfortable in your own skin, remember that it is just a number, treat your body well by eating right and exercising, and above all else, feel healthy.