Written by: Althea Burke
Are we as committed to health and wellness (body, mind, spirit) as we are to being the ideal weight?
If the $20 billion annual revenue of the diet industry tells us anything, it is that people are confusing their body weight with their health, and the two are not necessarily one in the same. Diet drugs and fad diets aid consumers in reaching a desired weight, but that change is short lived. It’s the difference between “I’ve got to lose weight now” versus “I’ve got to live a healthier lifestyle." The everyday bathroom scale only offers a single number, which leaves many components of our health unknown.
Here are a few reasons that we’re better off ditching the scale, weening ourselves off the fixation with our weight, and picking up lifestyle habits that encourage long-term health and maintaining a healthy weight.
1) Scales do not measure health or poor health. More important than one’s weight is the location of their body fat. The most dangerous place to accumulate excess body fat is above the waist line (aka an “apple shape”). A high waist circumference is associated with Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Hypertension and potentially Metabolic Syndrome.
2) Scales cannot distinguish muscle mass from body fat. Two people can weigh the same but the amount of weight that comes from muscle versus body fat is what provides key information about risk for disease. Calipers and full body scans like DEXA are more accurate measures of body fat levels.
3) Scales cannot distinguish between water retention and body fat. It is water retention that explains why early in the morning one may weigh less than if he/she stepped on the scale in the evening time. This fluctuation in water weight depends on foods consumed, exercise program, fluid intake, time of day and hormone levels.
4) Weighing yourself can prove demotivating. The numbers on the scale are useful in the maintenance phase of a weight loss program but can be discouraging at onset when many variables are still up in the air like: food selection and consistency in working out. In the earlier stage of an exercise program focus on changes in energy, mood, productivity, monitoring portion sizes and body circumference.
Think about the bigger picture as to why we are having to be so stringent in monitoring body weight in the first place. Change the unhealthy behaviors, modify some food choices, understand your relationship with food, do fun physical activities more often, and it’s very likely that your body weight will reflect your healthy choices.