Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Scale Lies

On the left is a beauty contest winner Chloe Marshall, weighing in at 5'10" and 180 lbs. On the right is me, at 5'8" and this day I was 174 lbs. Her BMI is 25.8, mine was 26.5, which puts us both in the overweight category, and me even more so. In an article about this beauty contest winner, she explains that she does what she does to promote healthy body images for women, and to show that self esteem shouldn't be tied to looking like a model in a magazine.

Wait, healthy body image? As the Old Spice man might say, "Look at her, now look at me." Who do you think is trying to promote healthy body image, and divorce people from caring what the scale has to say?

Where is this rant going?

Train like you mean it and throw out your scale.

Unless you are competing in a weight class sport, if you are in the gym, working up a sweat, and putting the right foods in your mouth, it's probably time you got rid of your scale and either get a tape measure or body fat calipers.

If you train hard, lift heavy, and hit that HIIT training hard, it's highly likely that you won't lose weight right away. Usually, though, your pants will fit looser, you'll have to tighten your belt, and your arms and legs will get tighter.

Weight can change fairly drastically day to day, especially for women because of our hormones. If you drink alcohol one day, the dehydration will make you seem lighter. If you gorge on carbs one day, the water retention will make you seem heavier. But none of these readings accurately reflect any true measure of health.

Muscle is the best thing you have for longevity.

Study after study is coming out now that the best indicator for longevity and quality of life is fitness. Increased bone density means fewer fractures and less worry about osteoporosis and osteopenia (which, yes, men can get too). Muscle mass help increase your insulin sensitivity since muscle has insulin receptors and is the only place, other than the liver, that glycogen can be stored without being turned into fat.

How do you reap these benefits. Well, through strength training and HIIT conditioning, of course! These training methods will also make you denser (read: toned) and potentially heavier than you are now.

Muscle makes you useful.

Being strong is a great way to get free pizza and beer. How? Because you'll be the one friends call when they are going to move and they can't handle their couch all on their own. And helping a friend move always means compensatory feedings.

I guess I should also say, USEFUL muscle makes you useful. Because no one cares if you can bicep curl their dresser. Can you deadlift and farmer's walk with it?

Lift Big and Eat Big

Training hard means your metabolism is moving light a freight train. It's not the muscle itself that increases your metabolism, it's the heavy lifting and intense conditioning that puts on the meat and keeps the calories burning long after you leave the gym. (More on the muscle =/= high metabolism later.) And that means the occasional slip up isn't going to cost you the way it would if you spend all your time on the elliptical or treadmill.

Okay, I've kind of left my original argument, which is healthy body image should not be tied to weight, but to health and fitness. There is more than skinny vs. curvy, paper vs. plastic. So stop obsessing over the scale.

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