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It's not about the weight - Weight does not matter much

Monday, February 04, 2013

I find myself saying this all the time. I even hear or read people agree with me and then act the opposite. There are a lot of weight loss challenges on Spark while at the same time there is advice about not stepping on the scales too often. Spark gives the option of recording one's weight or other things like measurements like body fat but most people have a weight ticker.
Most people acknowledge when asked that it is more important to be healthy than to lose the weight but then they try to lose additional weight by reducing salt intake and thereby dropping water weight. Skinny fat (low lean muscle, high fat but normal weight) is not healthy. Walking 30 minutes a day is not enough to be functionally fit or healthy.
Being normal weight is not an indicator of health, in fact many people who are normal weight are still pre-diabetic. I was one of them and did not even know. Many people who are normal weight still have high blood pressure, high triglycerides or low HDL or even all of them and are at significant risk of heart disease or stroke or diabetes.
Gaining muscle is harder for me and is generally harder for women than for men. But I would still rather gain one pound of muscle than lose one pound of fat.
I'm not talking about big or bulky at all, just strong enough for functional fitness. When I can do the monkey bars at the local playground with ease and do a few pushups or pullups I'll be happy with that.
I'll have another body composition analysis at the doctor's office on Tuesday. I hope that my strength training has paid off and I have gained some more muscle and maybe even lost some more body fat. If not I will continue to figure out what to do to make it happen.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Seeing the scales move is great at first, it is only as we get closer to our goal we start to think of the things your are keeping tabs on, like body fat and muscle tone etc.

    1944 days ago
    This is a GREAT blog... I just wish blogs like these weren't so lost in the wilderness... they are never the ones featured by SparkPeople.

    The only way that the scale has helped (and continues to help) me is by teaching me just how much my weight can vary from day to day... as much as 10 pounds in my more extreme circumstances (my 'weight' is incredibly hormone driven). I figured out early on that the way I eat cannot cause a 10 pound weight gain overnight, so I've learned to watch for other more meaningful changes (measurements, clothes, definition, general trend). I really like that I can now actually visually tell the difference between the muscle and fat on my body.

    "When I can do the monkey bars at the local playground with ease and do a few pushups or pullups I'll be happy with that." Me, TOO!!! :)

    1963 days ago
    Oh I know. I guess it is because it is the best way to judge that most of us have. Being so overweight, the scale going down is very motivating. As you get closer to an ideal weight, there are much better measures than the scales. The ups and downs along the way can be very taxing though. I like to weigh often to see the effects of certain foods on me. If I were more of a normal weight, I could probably see/tell it without the scale. And like last week. I just knew I had lost weight. I felt like I had. I was out of town and couldn't weigh. I came home to a gain. Uggh. But I am still eating right so I don't let it get me down. Just surprised is all.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Smile and Enjoy the Rest of Your Day!
    Perfect Health Diet Team
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    Wheat Belly Team
    1964 days ago
    Life is such a balance!

    1964 days ago
    The scale is a quick measurement, when combined with a host of other measurements and signals that alert me to the status of my health. The scale probably matters more to me only because it's such an easy measurement to take. It's wise that we remember there are many elements to take into consideration. It's all part of the learning process. You've really got a great handle on the information at hand.
    1965 days ago
  • ERIN1957
    Some of us receive medication by our weight and we all know the more meds we take the more side effects we can have. I have to weigh whether I like it or not. I have a goal to drop weight so I have less medication and maybe even stop meds all together. So I look at is as an important number to work toward, not a game...but a positive tool. I enjoy seeing it as a positive reinforcement.
    1965 days ago
    The way my pants fit is much more important to me than what the scale says. We've been conditioned to invest the scale numbers with too much respect. As a reminder, those "ideal weight" charts? They're made up by insurance companies, not physicians, for the purpose of quickly gauging "risk" when insuring someone.

    If you're trying to lose fat for looks, then just look at how you look. If you're trying to lose weight for health, then measure your blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin levels, and triglycerides. THOSE are the important numbers that have strong correlations with health. "Weight" is a pretty amorphous number when you come right down to it, and doesn't distinguish between water, fat, bone, or undigested food.
    1965 days ago
    I seldom weighed myself most of last year... and I regained 14 lbs. I need the discipline of weighing myself regularly... and for me that means once a week. I understand that weight naturally fluctuates, and that if I have too much salt I can retain water, but still, over a month, I want the scale to go down a bit. If not, then I step up my exercise and make sure that I weigh, measure and track what I eat very carefully.
    1965 days ago
    It is hard indeed to ignore the scales if everyone around us is talking about what the scales say. It is just as hard as saying NO to donuts when everyone or what seems like everyone around us eats them. It starts with the awareness that we want to be different and then systematically putting reminders and positive reinforcements in place throughout our lives that will help us to make the switch in thinking and acting.
    It is true that the scales are very easy to use. But the tape measure would only take 30 seconds more, not a huge time commitment either. Alternatively we can take one picture from front and one from the side once a month. This will show the difference between muscle and fat quite well. emoticon
    1965 days ago
  • -LINDA_S
    I want my fat percentage to go down and lean body mass go up. If I look good and feel well, I think I'll be happy. But I'm still more obsessed with the scale than I should be. It's so hard not to be!
    1965 days ago

    I think the key word is healthy. Everyone has different body types, a different health history, different gene pools. The problem comes when people equate 'skinny' with healthy. There is no magic number on the scale that makes you healthy or more beautiful. It's about what your body can DO - whether 110 pounds or 220 pounds. We have amazing bodies and we are powerful when we choose to exercise them. Forget the scale - do you feel good about yourself and what your body can do?
    1966 days ago
    While I also want to be strong and gain muscle, I wouldn't go as far as to say weight doesn't matter much. Somehow when I lost weight, the body fat % went down right along with it. I don't stress about either of them. My ticker is maintenance weeks.

    I know it's a lot easier for me to run up hills without the extra pounds I was carrying. At my age (65) I probably can't expect to get faster, but I want to maintain that 10 min/mile pace (or a little less) as long as possible. That extra weight wasn't doing my heart muscle or my joints any good.

    Cardio, strength training, flexibility and balance. I want to maintain/improve all of them for quality of life.
    1966 days ago
    Weight is the easiest indicator to track, so that's what most do. You have to figure out what you want, and how much you are willing to do to get it. Only you can determine that.
    1966 days ago
    1966 days ago
    I agree. I'd rather gain a pound of muscle too. Low weight is not my ultimate goal, optimum health is!
    I hiked around Hillsborough enjoying the Stone Arch Bridges and the ice jams. Check out the photos!
    1966 days ago
    I tell myself that again and again, but it is so hard to really get my mind focused away from the numbers on the scale and more on my other indicators of good health now that I know I'm well within a healthy weight range. Good luck with your body composition analysis!
    1966 days ago
    Very wise words there
    1966 days ago
  • ZRIE014
    you need to control you weight but watching the scale too much will only get you down.
    1966 days ago
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