That Number on the Scale
Weighing yourself can be used as a tool to objectively track your fitness goals, whether it is fat loss or muscle gain. For those who are actively working to better their health, there are times when it may feel like there is no progress being made, even when we are making the most progress. We can become so focused on losing weight we forget what that number on the scale really means (I know I did). This is also a possible experience for those trying to gain weight and grow muscle. However, being that my goals have been fat loss, I only have experienced this situation with respect to weight loss and not weight gain. Therefore, I can speak more for the experience with fat loss than muscle gain. Keep reading to learn more about what exactly that number on the scale means.
A Quick Note…
There is more to health than just fat loss. If you have experienced using the scale as a tool for weight gain or had difficulties using the scale to objectively track weight gain and are comfortable with contributing to the conversation, please leave your own thoughts and experience in the comments down below to further another side of the discussion!
Before we discuss what the number really represents, I want to mention again that the scale can be a great tool to objectively measure progress. However, if you do find that the number is starting to affect your mood negatively and or you are starting to create and unhealthy relationship, please spend some time away from using a scale. There are other ways to track progress including measuring yourself, progress photos, and noticing how your clothes are fitting you differently. Being conscious in your fitness journey stretches beyond healthful eating. Consciousness is about being aware of what you are eating and doing and being aware of how you feel mentally.
Now, back to our scheduled program!
What Does the Number Represent?
When stepping onto a scale, the number that represents your total weight is not just the fat that you hold on your body. There are other factors at play. Your bones, muscle, water retention, body fat, the food you have eaten throughout the day, if you have or have not used the bathroom, and even the clothes you are wearing all are accounted for as being your total weight. This may seem obvious, however total weight may not be commonly discussed. I know for myself personally, it took a little bit before understanding what total weight actually represented.
Everybody holds fat on their body no matter their size or height. There is a purpose for the human body to hold some body fat to help keep the body functioning properly. The amount of excess body fat that is stored, as well as not having enough body fat, determines long-term health. It is unhealthy to not have enough body fat and it is unhealthy to have too much body fat. Working at living a healthful life to maintain being within a healthy weight range that is dependent on your height is important for long-term health.
Know that the number on the scale does not define who you are as a person but is an objective representation of health. Having self-love is important to make healthy decisions and changes in your life, and you should be able to love yourself at the size you are at. Taking care of your health goes together with self-love and is just as, if not more, important. Finally, being at a smaller weight that is within a healthy weight range is the result of healthy choices and taking care of one’s self.
Weight naturally fluctuates simply from just living and eating day-to-day. Eating, drinking, retaining water, digesting, exercising, different medications, and sleep all contribute to natural weight fluctuation. On average, weight can fluctuate 5 to 6 pounds a day for adults. Because of menstruation, women retain more water at certain points within their cycle monthly.
Separate from natural weight fluctuation, note that if you are eating in a caloric surplus day-to-day, then your weight will increase over time regardless of your lifestyle (be it fat gain or muscle gain). Eating in a caloric deficit will result in weight loss over time and eating at maintenance (eating as many calories that you burn daily (total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)) will help to maintain weight. Food quality and what kinds of foods that are consumed are important factors when it comes to weight gain, loss, or maintenance in terms of long-term health.
What are your thoughts with using the scale as an objective tool for weight loss or weight gain? Let me know in the comments down below!
Related: One Size Does NOT Fit All
Is Weight Fluctuation Normal? – written by Natalie Silver