Bail on your scale
Thursday, November 28, 2013
I borrowed this blog from Matt a trainer at the gym. I thought it may help others.
Get Strong and Bail on your Scale
"My pants are all fitting looser. But is it possible I could be gaining weight?" This line of questioning opened a training session last week. She went on to explain that while her clothing was fitting better than ever, she was very concerned that the number on the scale had gone up a few pounds. Prior to us working together, the treadmill had been her primary source of exercise, with only light weight, high repetition strength training making up a portion of her workouts. She has been getting stronger every week. She is now seeing evidence that she was getting leaner as well. So why did that few pounds on the scale matter? When pressed for an answer she couldn't even provide one. I went on to explain that the scale measures weight. Nothing more, nothing less. The scale doesn't know if you are male or female. The scale doesn't know if you are very fat or very lean. The scale doesn't even know if its measuring a 120 pound human or a 120 pound rock.
She went on to reference the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI calculates a number based on height and weight. This number classifies you as underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. She wanted to stay within a certain range on the scale. To put it mildly, the BMI is bogus. The formula came from a mathematician in Belgium nearly 200 years ago. it doesn't factor in body composition and basically assumes low muscle mass and high relative body fat. In a recent study the BMI has shown that half of the NFL is obese and nearly all are overweight. According to the BMI half the NBA is overweight. These are some of the most lean and conditioned athletes on earth. Yet the scale and a 200 year old mathematician are conspiring to say they are fat.
A steady diet of cardio and the scale is a recipe for frustration. Yet it is a cycle so many women find themselves in. 3 Days a week of running, near starvation diets and daily cringe inducing treks up onto the scale. Does that sound familiar? So what is the right answer? First off the only number you should be concerned with if any, is your body fat %. You want to look lean? Lower that number. We could put 2 women on the scale the exact same height with the scale reading the exact same number. Yet one could be a size 2 and the other a size 8. It's all based on body composition.
So how do we best affect body composition? First and foremost it starts with food. We have to create a deficit in calories while also taking in nutrients essential for the changes we are trying to make. 3500 calories burned equals a pound of fat lost. So if we are burning 300 calories on the treadmill 3 days a week (and that's generous for some of you walkers) then that's 900 a week. If your nutrition is perfect you're looking at 13 pounds lost...IN A YEAR. Which I suppose isn't horrible if your goal is to lose 13 pounds and you're VERY patient. But what if you want to lose 30 pounds? Or 50? Or 100? See where I'm going with this? This is why we emphasize strength training and high intensity interval training so much.
"I want to lose fat." We hear it everyday. When my response is "add muscle to your frame," women always panic. Images of steroid enhanced she-monsters flood their minds. Relax. Simply put, women do not have the body chemistry to build huge muscles. It's no coincidence that the leanest women we have at WWC are also our strongest women. It goes hand in hand. The vast majority of the calories we burn each day are burned based on our resting metabolic rate. It's the calories we burn at rest from all our bodies processes. Guess what? Having more muscle increases how many calories we burn every day. So it's not only about the calories we burn during that strength training workout (though that will equal or exceed your treadmill work) it's about making our body more metabolically active at ALL TIMES. And why high intensity interval training? This style of training versus normal steady state cardio has been shown to boost your metabolic rate for up to 48 hours post workout. That's 2 days of burning more calories than you otherwise would. So again, it's not just about calories burned during the workout. If it was, weight loss would be a much longer road. For you girls that love the treadmill, look at them as bonus calories. Burning an extra few hundred can never hurt. But that is only if strength and HIIT training are the foundation.
In summation, worry more about how your clothes fit than any number on a scale. If you need a number to stay goal oriented then focus on your body fat %. Eat clean, pick up heavy things often, and move quickly. You're on your way to a whole new you.
Woman's Workout Company Program Director