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September 9, 2018: Ditching the Scale

My weekly Get Your Stuff Together Sunday email series gives you one actionable focus for the week that will make your life a little easier.

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Weight is the most popular measurement for determining your size and progress. But weight doesn’t tell us much, and your progress toward your healthy goals might now be best measured on the scale. This week, we’re talking about why you might want to ditch the scale when approaching your healthy lifestyle.

Wait, what’s wrong with weight?

Countless people every day are starting a new exercise routine or starting a new diet, with the goal of losing weight. Weight is such a slippery idea - what is a healthy weight? Weight is a measurement of everything that is in and on you at that given moment - including your clothes and that breakfast burrito. Weight can be used in certain equations and estimates for health alongside other factors, but just weight itself doesn’t give us much information.

If I step on the scale and it reads 130 lbs, I might think I need to drop 10 pounds because I usually feel and look better at 120 lbs, but what is making up that 130 lbs? To have a true understanding of what you really want your body weight goal to be, we need to know (1) how much body fat we have on us and (2) how much lean muscle mass we have on us.

If my only goal is to get down to 120 lbs, I could do it - just ramp up the cardio, put a spin bike in the sauna, wear 3 sweatshirts in the gym, severely restrict my food intake...that’s silly, right? All I am doing is sacrificing muscle and water weight to hit that 120 lb goal, which will leave my body fat mass the same, but will increase my body fat percentage (since muscle was lost). 

So, here’s the question, am I better at 120 lbs and 25% Body Fat or at 130 lbs and 20% body fat? Just because the scale goes up or stays the same doesn’t mean you are not getting results. If you are dropping body fat mass and gaining muscle, then your weight might not move but your body fat % will lower, which is what our real goal is.

Does weighing myself help at all?

Short answer - yes. Longer answer - when you’re using it as a measurement over time and are tracking change in weight. That change can tell you a bit more than just the weight itself. I prefer taking my measurements when I’m looking to “lose weight,” because what we’re really talking about it “fat loss.” The number on the scale doesn’t differentiate between fat, muscle, bone, water, and everything else in you. When you take measurements - like waist, bust, hips, etc. - you can get a better idea of the fat loss and change in your body composition (the ratio of fat to muscle).

Remember the number on the scale does not define you, you are not just a number and your fitness goals and weight goals are not something you just want to sprint towards to reach a number. Building a healthy lifestyle is a much better way to reaching and staying at your goals.

Next Sunday, we’ll talk about glute strength, aka getting a strong, perky butt.

Do you have a friend who could stand to G(her)ST? Feel free to forward this!

I hope you have a wonderful week,


Kelly Morgan, Ph.D.

Tsirona -

My weekly GYSTS email give you one actionable thing to do for the week that will make you life a little easier. As "they" say, "Fail to plan; plan to fail." Get these emails (and more!) delivered right to your inbox by clicking HERE.