Weight A Minute, Somebody’s Lookin’ To Get Slapped
The bathroom scale is like an abusive spouse; it will tell you something wonderful every so often to keep you attached. When you’re least expecting it though, it might slap you into next week – just for being there, regardless of your good intentions. Like a spouse abused, a person will cringe, duck their head, and go back for more – every day. Like any abusive relationship, this dysfunction is born of incompatibility. Perhaps a separation might be in order…
A Tool, A Weapon, A Reminder
At the request of a client, I recently purchased a scale for my studio. I had lived without a scale for years because knowing my bodyweight has not been of consequence to me. I can still wear the same jeans I wore in high school, I can run faster than my kid, and on a clear day I can still see my abs – so the scale has nothing to offer me. Still, I conceded my client’s request because I felt the scale might be an effective tool in her weight-loss project. It turned out not be useful, and the scale was soon put under a rack of dumbbells in my studio to gather dust. A forgotten scale is like a forgotten land mine – watch out where you step.
I paid nearly $200 for my scale and believe it to be accurate. Aesthetically pleasing, my scale has lots of chrome and a sort of art-deco look to it, despite the digital display. My scale caught my eye quite a bit in the beginning. We were near each other for hours at a time, and it constantly winked at me. Still, I resisted the temptation to step upon it – I need not know.
After 6 months of spending all day in the same room with my shiny scale, it got the better of me. One afternoon I gave in to temptation and took a bite from this chrome apple in my Garden Of Eatin’; 172 lbs. I thought nothing of it because the last time I had been on a scale nearly a year earlier I was… 172 lbs. See, no need for a scale.
A couple of days had passed and I decided to step on my scale again – to confirm my 172 lbs. Oops; 176lbs. Wow! What a fat tub lard I turned out to be. Four pounds in two days… sad.
Since I could think of no significant departures from my systematic eating and exercise behaviors that might have caused this weight gain, I decided a little more cardio would be in order until I arrive back to 172 lbs. I made no eating changes – simply chose to earn my way back to 172 lbs. by burning some calories.
Three days later I stepped on my scale once again; 169 lbs. Yeah me! A little extra cardio served me well. Seven pounds down in three days – all was well again. This meant I could eat a bit more to get back to 172. Carne asada burrito with extra guacamole, here I come…
…and there I went; 175 lbs. the next day. Came and went for three or four days in this fashion; more food/less food, more cardio/less cardio, more bodyweight/less bodyweight. Then it hit me – I was caught in the deadly rip-current of scale ebb and flow. And I thought this only happened to the weak.
To reason my way out of this, and to support my commitment to a non-scale way of life, I conducted a non-scientific experiment yesterday. I chose to weigh myself 5 times throughout the course of an average day in my so-called fitness life. Here are the results:
6:00am, post 30 minutes of (hard) cardio on an empty stomach: 171
10:00am, after 1 full breakfast, and a mid-morning snack: 174
2:00pm, after lunch, and a light afternoon snack: 173
5:00pm, prior to dinner, but after 2 44 ounce cups of coffee: 176
9:00pm, after a 60 minute strength workout: 173
In a single day I gained and lost a total of 10 lbs. – fluids mostly, and digesting foods. Sweat lost from hard exercise = weight lost. Forty-four ounce cup of coffee, two times = weight gained. Food in and food released = pounds gained and pounds released.
For the example cited above, I will always suggest that should one choose to use a scale as a tool with their weight-loss effort, one should weigh his or her self no more than every 3-5 weeks, allowing enough time between weigh-ins to demonstrate legitimate fat-loss – separate and distinct from the 10 pounds which can be gained and lost by the actions of living normal day.
Utility With Responsibility
I will concede to my friend Dr. J that a scale can be a sound tool to monitor weight-loss, or to monitor one’s healthy bodyweight. But the effectiveness of the scale as a tool is directly tied to the responsibility of its use, and the understanding of its power to corrupt good intentions. I suggest that if you use your scale regularly, yet fear the experience of the bitch-slap each morning, make one of the following changes:
1) Put a renewed, more serious effort into improving your fitness lifestyle, possibly even recruiting the services of a fitness or nutrition professional, thus giving the scale a better chance to make you smile.
2) Lower your expectations.
3) Throw away your scale.
No Weigh Or The Highweigh
My experience yesterday reminded me how deceiving the scale can be. This is simply a non-scientific reminder that even an educated and disciplined fitness enthusiast can fall victim to that sinister device. When it comes to monitoring weight-loss, the scale might be a good tool, though I suggest two better tools to emphaszie; eat well and move. Be well. rc