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Why Weighing Yourself Is Pointless

Posted in Personal Health 04 Aug, 2015

I avoid scales like American multi-national companies avoid paying UK tax, and it looks like I'm on to a good thing. Generally speaking, as long as my backside is smaller than my waist I'm happy.

So why are bathroom scales pointless, apart from the fact they are always half a stone under and covered in dead spiders? Here are some reasons to back away from the scales this morning.

Weight is not a great indicator of health

'Skinny fat' people are more at risk of prediabetes and heart disease than more obviously overweight people. By that I mean if you are skinny with a normal BMI, but your body mass is mostly fat with no muscle, then you are not doing well. A low body weight size 8 can still be unhealthy. It's better to be heavier and healthier.

Why skinny fat is bad

People who are of normal weight will assume all is well. They may eat whatever they please - pre-packaged foods, fizzy drinks, sugary treats - and don't put on a pound. We all hate these people, but don't be too harsh because they are at more risk than others. A high sugar intake leads to all manner of health issues no matter what your weight. Skinny does not equal fit.

Muscle weighs more

Muscle weighs more than fat, so getting fit may increase your overall weight. Lifting weight is important. It builds strength in your muscles and bones, plus it looks better because muscle doesn't wobble when you wave or creep over the top of your jeans.

If you want to look good, lose the fat and gain the muscle. It's the perfect trade off.

Exercising might increase your weight

When you exercise, no matter whether it's cardio or weight training, you will probably lose fat and gain muscle that weighs more. In fact, your body weight will not ever remain stable; it fluctuates day-to-day depending on what you've eaten, if you're dehydrated, or (in women) what time of the month it is. Don't be too miserable if the figure is higher than yesterday despite the fact you ate nothing but plants.

If you look at the scales every day you may find those numbers messing up your determination.

Body fat percentage is the way to go

If you must use scales, and I guess they are a handy way of keeping track, then look for ones that measure body fat. Here are some other methods:

  • Use a tape measure to see what wobbly bits have disappeared from your boobs, tum and hips.
  • Some people take 'before and after' selfies for comparison purposes - after all the camera doesn't lie but your scales do. (OK I made that up, but you know it makes sense)
  • Go by how tight your clothes are. A loose waistband means you've lost fat.

If you are looking to lose weight - change that mantra to 'I'm looking to get fit' instead. You may drop loads of fat, but gain loads of muscle and end up weighing exactly the same. You'll be healthier and happier though. Bye-bye diabetes!

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