“Start the New Year right by committing to your weight loss goals!”
“Summer is around the corner. Make sure your beach body is ready!”
“Has the scale gone up over the holidays? Lose that holiday bulk!”
These seasonal reminders to keep an eye on the scale are just a few examples of how we’re conditioned to consider weight loss as the main part of a healthy and happy lifestyle.
This focus on weight as an indicator of good health is incredibly misleading, since multiple studies have debunked the myth that weight is a major determiner of health. However, this idea still persists in our culture and many of us continue to set “target weights” for ourselves and make weight loss a primary goal.
The truth is: your weight is affected by lots of different factors. It may go up or down for several reasons, which may or may not be in your control. Everything from time to genes can have an impact. Overall, it’s much better to focus on being healthy rather than being a specific weight.
Let’s put this in perspective with some of the reasons why the number on the scale may change and why it isn’t something you need to, ahem, let weigh you down.
Health Is About So Much More Than Your Weight
What you weigh is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to your health.
Consider that when you go to the doctor for a checkup, they look at several indicators of your health, such as:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels
- Blood sugar levels
- Sleep patterns
- Water intake
- Alcohol consumption
All of these factors tell a far more accurate story of the state of your body and its functionality than your weight does. So if you want to improve your health, it’s important to make changes where it matters, rather than solely focusing on getting the number on the scale to drop.
Health is about so much more than weight.
Your Weight Can Fluctuate During the Day
If you’ve ever gotten into the habit of giving yourself daily weigh-ins, then you already know that your weight can go up or down by a few pounds in the course of a single day. Eat a little bit too much salt, and boom! Your body starts retaining water and your weight increases. Or you have a particularly intense workout where you sweat a lot, and your weight goes down.
Those changes don’t provide you with detailed information about the state of your health. If anything, they’ll cause you stress, which can actually damage both your physical and mental health. You may believe that any deviation from a number means you have to work twice as hard or that you made an error at some point. It's not true; just remember the number is not constant.
Muscle Is Denser Than Fat
The more you work out, the more muscle you build.
Muscle is denser than fat, so you may discover that no matter how many miles you run on the treadmill, your weight won’t go down — and in some cases, may even go up.
What does this mean? For one, it indicates that the number is not as important as the muscle percentage. A lot of exercise will build muscle and cause you to put on weight, but not in an unhealthy way. It shows that, once again, your weight doesn’t really matter all that much. If you are concerned about your physique and silhouette, a better way to gauge your progress is by looking at well how your clothes fit (and even then, your issue might not be weight-related, but tailor-related).
Focusing on the Scale Can Zap Your Motivation
One of the most important elements in sticking to a workout routine is keeping yourself motivated.
Setting a goal weight is a very common way for us to stay encouraged and motivated. The problem is, this tactic usually ends up having the exact opposite effect. When we aren’t able to hit that “ideal number” or make progress toward it as fast as we would like to, we end up dispirited and unmotivated. Many people have abandoned their fitness goals because their weight didn’t change the way they expected and wanted it to.
There is a much healthier approach to motivation that will have you looking forward to your sessions on your elliptical or rowing machine. Instead, you should notice the changes that are happening to your strength, stamina, and endurance. You can observe milestones in how much time you spend exercising, the amount of weight you can lift, and how long it takes you to run a mile.
Ways to Measure Your Health That Don’t Involve the Scale
Good health is the result of a complex set of factors that go far beyond pounds and ounces. Measuring your health is likewise something that should involve more than deciding on a goal weight and determining your success based on how close you are to that weight.
Of course, maintaining your health requires regular visits with your primary care physician, so they can monitor your vital signs and look for signs of disease, damage, or infection. But in addition to good quality medical care, there are a few ways you can assess the state of your health and well-being, and none of them require the use of a scale.
How You Feel
This one may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how often we can forget to check in with ourselves and actively ask, “How am I feeling?”
One reason why this may occur is that the world of fitness has been both blessed and cursed by an explosion of health-tracking technologies and gadgets, like Fitbits and digital calorie counters. These devices encourage us to put our health in terms of steps taken and ounces of water consumed each day. This focus on data and statistics completely overlooks the intuitive aspect of health.
In simpler times, we knew that we could get a good reading on our health just by paying attention to how we felt. This “back to basics” approach is still available to us anytime we choose to embrace it. Take note of when you feel awesome and when you don’t. Your body is constantly sending you signals in the form of headaches, upset stomachs, skin rashes, muscle pains, and more. You can learn a lot about your health just by observing these signs.
How Much Energy You Have
Here’s another obvious truth that isn’t so obvious in this fast-paced day and age: it’s not normal to feel tired all the time. Lethargy, mental slumps, and “hitting the wall” every single day are wake-up calls that something is off with your health. We may have been conditioned to believe that exhaustion is a necessary part of life — and even a virtue — but the truth is, constant fatigue is a symptom that all is not well.
Sometimes it means you need to slow down and get more rest. But it can also mean just the opposite — that you need to get moving and exercise more! A half hour of moderate aerobic exercise, such as a spin on an exercise bike, can do wonders for your energy levels.
Your Physical Strength
How far can you walk or run before running out of steam? How many push-ups and sit-ups can you perform in a set? The answers to these questions can tell you a lot about your strength and endurance, and therefore your physical health. Rather than focusing on the number on the scale, you’re far better off focusing on the number of miles you can run or reps you can do on your strength training equipment.
Health-Boosting Tips That Aren’t About Weight Loss
It’s always a good time to focus on your health, even if you are already in good shape. Good health requires constant maintenance, and there are several ways you can take care of yourself that don’t involve watching the scale.
Self-care can mean different things to different people, but in general it involves listening to yourself and responding to your needs. For some people, self-care revolves around stress management, which is absolutely crucial to protecting your health.
Think about what makes you feel good, strong, and powerful. Maybe it’s a brisk walk in the morning or a warm bath at night. Or maybe it’s choosing nutritious foods that energize you over fast food that tastes good but leaves you feeling sluggish. Whatever your self-care routine involves, it’s important to make it a consistent part of your life in order to reap the greatest benefits from it.
Good self-care helps you stay motivated.
Boost Your Immune System
Another important aspect of health is protecting yourself from illness. Now more than ever, a strong immune system is one of the most essential assets you can have. A robust immune system is the product of a healthy lifestyle that includes enough rest, a well-balanced diet, adequate exercise, and a multitude of other factors. It’s also the result of the habits you avoid, such as smoking and overconsumption of alcohol.
Build a Home Gym
We are far more likely to stick with a workout routine if it’s one we enjoy and if it’s convenient to maintain. That’s why building a home gym is an incredible way to stay fit and healthy. Creating a home gym lets you pick and choose the workout equipment you love using the most, so exercise becomes something you actively look forward to. Even better, a home gym puts your equipment within arm’s reach, so you can fit in a workout whenever the mood strikes. You can hop on the elliptical or treadmill for some cardio, or you can lift dumbbells for resistance training. The choice is always yours with a home gym.
If you’d like to enjoy the health benefits that a home fitness gym can provide, the experts at G&G Fitness can help you build a home gym that is customized to your unique needs and preferences. There’s never been a better time to put your focus on your health (and ditch the scale) so that you can build and maintain a strong body that lets you live the life you want to live. Contact us today to get started.
A strong body and mind is the goal.