It’s easy to obsess over your weight. We’re constantly shown images of thin, fit people. Plus, obesity is major health problems throughout the world So, it’s only natural to focus so much of our attention on the number showing up on the scale.
But believe it or not, weight itself doesn’t really matter. That might sound completely ridiculous, but here’s why it’s not.
Get healthy to lose weight
Many people think they need to lose weight before they get healthy. But this places all of your attention on taking your weight – a number – and making that number go down. Then, and only then, will you be healthy.
But that’s not how health works. Your focus should be to get healthy so that you can lose weight. When you look at your body this way, you’ll achieve so much more than weight loss. You’ll achieve a healthier and more energetic body.
Your body has priorities
Your body likes to be balanced, and it’s always trying to stay as well as it can. And while you may only want to lose weight, your body may have other priorities. It may want to reduce inflammation. It may want to clear arteries. It may want to boost brain health. It might want to lower stress and balance hormones.
There are so many things the body needs to tend to, and sometimes, it will choose to repair other, more important things, before it lets go of extra weight. Don’t worry. The body is smart and knows exactly what it’s doing. Your job is to help it heal from the inside out.
Scales don’t show fat weight
Scales certainly tell you how much you weigh, but there’s more to your body than your overall weight. You see, the scale doesn’t tell you your fat weight, muscle weight, water weight, food weight, etc. It just gives you one number.
Remember, muscle mass weighs more than fat stores. So, if two people have very different bodies (one overweight and one muscular), the scale will show the same number. Why? Because it only measures overall weight. This proves that the scale gives you one number and one number only.
But that number isn’t good enough – and it’s definitely not something you should hang your hat on.
Track your body fat
The scale doesn’t weigh body fat, but you can track your fat stores on your own. It’s important that this number goes down! How can you do this? You can use calipers, bioelectrical impedance scales, hydrostatic weighing, or an online body fat percentage calculator. Just watch out for the last one – they’re not always very accurate.
Gradual weight loss
Some sources will tell you to check your weight every day – even three times a day. Then, you’re supposed to add up every weight and average it off at the end of the week.
But this obsession with a number completely prevents you from focusing on other healthy outcomes that accompany weight loss. Plus, how quickly anyone loses weight depends on many factors, like insulin resistance, slow metabolism, exercise and fitness levels, and dietary choices. And you don’t take any of these into consideration if you only weigh yourself on a scale.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Gradual weight loss is still weight loss.
Measuring your waist may be better
Your waist circumference doesn’t reveal how much your weight in pounds or kilograms, but it does reveal some pretty helpful information about your overall health.
For example, men who have a waist circumference of 40 inches or larger have a sign that they have too much visceral fat. For women, this number is 35 inches.
What’s wrong with visceral fat? It surrounds internal organs and releases inflammatory chemicals, which you definitely don’t want. It raises the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
This is why when you lose weight, your body will focus on losing the visceral fat first. Then, it will lose the outer, more visible fat stores. So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see your waist slim down immediately. Remember, your body has priorities and getting rid of visceral fat comes first.
So, instead of stepping on a scale, take a tape measure and measure your waist each week. This will help you track your health progress.
Scales negatively impact our emotions
Another reason why scales aren’t a very useful weight loss tool is that they can have such a negative impact on your emotions. Think about it, the number on the scale can literally make or break your day.
If it’s not as low as you want it to be, you can easily punish yourself with strenuous workouts and food deprivation. All because of a number. Are these emotional upsets worth it? How do they help you make lasting progress?
Focus on positive changes
In your weight loss efforts, you’re probably changing your diet, increasing your fitness levels and making significant lifestyle changes. But these changes aren’t just going to make the number on the scale go down.
They’re also going to improve other health markers and measurements, too. Your cardiovascular health may improve, along with your insulin resistance. Your blood sugar levels might lower and so may your “bad” cholesterol. You might also see some significant improvements with inflammatory conditions.
You might discover you have lots of energy and renewed mental clarity. Your PMS? That’s better, too. Why? Because your hormones are rebalanced. These are only some of the health benefits that accompany weight loss. But you’ll never notice them if you only ever focus on your weight number.
You know, there’s that trite saying, “Age is just a number.” And you could just as easily say: “Weight is just a number” – especially when it comes to good health.
Take a picture
Another easy way to track your weight is to take a picture of your body – preferably in a swimsuit on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Be sure to take your picture first thing in the morning, and upon waking.
This gives you an easy and clear way to track your weight loss without referring to a scale and obsessing about a number.
Weight’s important, but it’s not as important as it’s made out to be. So, try not to obsess about your weight. Instead, focus on getting healthy. When you do, the weight will improve, too.