As humans, we quantify everything, assigning things numbers to better understand them or define them in some way. We do this with simple things, like how old we are, anniversaries based on numbers of years together, education levels, and so on. We kind of get obsessed with numbers, especially when it comes to things like grades, scores, and points. And then that obsession turns deadly when we focus incessantly on things like number of calories, how many carbs were in that meal, what size pants we're wearing, and the worst: how much we weigh.
Our fixation on numbers causes us to place more value in what a battery-operated scale tells us than in what we actually see and the progress we experience. I've found myself caring more that the scale doesn't tell me the number I like, rather than the fact that I can actually see the changes in my body and in my gym performance.
Well, that has to stop. And here's why:
1. Weight fluctuates constantly. If you've ever weighed yourself multiple times throughout the day, you can probably attest to the fact that the number rarely stays the same. In the morning, after a meal, before your workout, after your workout, and before bed all reflect slightly different numbers. Why? Because throughout the day, you're doing so many things that can affect that pesky little scale. You don't need to freak out if the number went up after a meal or get confused why yesterday at 6:45 you weighed a different number. Our bodies are constantly busy doing something and any measurement we take throughout the day will surely be a little different.
2. Weight is not a measurement of how "fit" you are. When I started my fitness journey, I had this notion that I had to lose weight to show that I was making progress. But in reality, while building muscle and simultaneously lifting weights, I gained weight. Yes, the number on the scale that I was used to - and initially wanted to decrease - went up. Yet my body looked better than it ever had! My clothes fit better, my muscles were more dense, I was leaner, you name it - but that number on the scale still nagged at me. Since muscles are more dense than fat, they're going to be heavier than fat. So when you're losing fat but gaining muscle, your scale might confuse you. But stop for a moment and take a look at yourself. Notice that with those muscles built up and that fat burned - no matter what the scale says - you look leaner, stronger, and feel better than ever.
3. There are better ways to measure progress. If measurement is important to you and will help you on your fitness journey, that's okay. But keep in mind that there are SO many better ways to check in and see how you're doing that do not involve stepping on a scale. A proper assessment of different body composition components will paint a much better picture at the end of the day. Or, if you want to focus on weight, focus on how much stronger you've gotten in the gym as you notice that you grabbed those 30 pound dumbbells today rather than the 20s.
We need to change the obsession with the scale and instead realize that that number doesn't define us, show how fit we are, or do anything to help us with our goals. Instead, notice how those jeans fit better after getting into weight training, how your arms are stronger and more toned than they've ever been, or how great it feels to add another plate on your next squat workout.