We need to stop defining our health by an arbitrary number on the scale, and focus on what we’re putting into our bodies instead.
It’s probably not a sweeping generalisation to say that most people have lived with a set of bathroom scales in their house only to grow up, move out and buy a set of their own.
Generation after generation this pattern continues, in most homes across Australia. Every household needs one, right? Wrong.
It seems like such an archaic idea to me that people still get up every morning and step on the scales, longing to see the number drop only to be floored to see they’ve put on 2 kilos overnight.
I know the feeling because I was also once this person, from my obsessive gym-going teenage years throughout three pregnancies where I bounced between pre-and post-baby body weight.
The number on the scales determined my mood, my day, whether I wanted to get out of bed and train, go to work and do school drop off, and determined what I chose to wear – and even how I spoke to my poor kids!
For many, this number is used as a summation of who they are, how confident they are in their skin, how they feel about themselves and how they wear it for the world to see – almost like the number is tattooed on their forehead.
But what many don’t understand is that a person’s fluctuations and daily variables mean that the age-old bathroom scale isn’t a completely accurate measure of body fat.
There are many factors that make bathroom scales an inaccurate representation of body fat – what your hormones are doing, what part of your menstrual cycle you’re at, how hydrated you are, when and what you last ate, when you last exercised, whether you train a lot, are a strong, built athlete, your age, or simply the time of day you jump on the scales.
Yes, many people still use bathroom scales are misleading. They don’t distinguish what proportion of weight is from fat versus what is from muscle. We also should all mostly know that muscle weighs more than fat.
I remember arguing with a dietitian that I don’t just do ‘cardio’ training. I do a lot of weights training – and heavy weights at that – and that I’m obviously building lean muscle mass. This was something that obviously didn’t resonate on her end as she scrutinised over a ‘food diary’ – needless to say, it resulted in the very fast termination of our relationship.
Bathroom scales also don’t consider variables such as body fat distribution, and who carries what where.
What is also critical to know is that one weight on the scales is not equal. It can take many ages, heights, body shapes and backgrounds.
Have a look at this picture. This is a perfect example of why the only scale every household should own is a kitchen scale:
In the left photo, this is me at a healthy pregnancy weight of 63 kilos.
In the right photo, here I am at my fittest, after doing my DICED by VARLAH 6-week body transformation. And guess what? In the second photo I also weigh 63 kilos. At my strongest and fittest, the scales read the EXACT same weight as when I was literally about to pop with baby number three, at nine months pregnant. Which is why I think the best measure is how you look, feel and of course how your clothes fit NOT the fluctuating number on the bathroom scales.
What I did was use kitchen scales to measure the weight of my food, just until I got a better sense of what an ideal portion size should look like, and what, exactly, constitutes a healthy, balanced meal. This simple swap shifted my focus from what was actually going into my body, the value of different foods, and what a balanced meal looks like plated up.
Of course, I only did this in the short-term – and by no means am I suggesting you weigh every single thing that is headed for your mouth (this is a very unhealthy way to live!) but it’s a great exercise to do if you are confused and find food a little mystifying.
Now, I’m not denying there’s a time and a place for bathroom scales. For some people that need it, scales can be very motivating to keep them making better lifestyle choices around nutrition and exercise but overall it is not and should not be the method used to determine overall body fat.
In my opinion, testing your body fat should also not be done daily or even weekly, it should be done over time and even then, the most accurate way we recommend to measure body fat is to get a body composition scan (or a DEXA scan).
And of course, another big plus with testing over time rather than daily/ weekly is to stop the obsessive mindset, the fixating and stressing on a single number which only serves to determine your perception of self-worth and divert your attention away from self-progress.
Lexy Meyerson is a mum of three kids (6 years and under), a qualified personal trainer and the co-founder of Australia’s leading on-demand fitness streaming service, VARLAH.
If you are worried about your health, weight or diet, book an appointment with you GP who will be able to advise a correct treatment plan.
November 24, 20163:35pm