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Our weight is made up of many things, not just fat. When you step on the scale, the number that shows up is a reflection of a variety of things: bone density, water retention, muscles mass, body fat, intestinal waste… and so on.
Your weight can also change frequently due to a number of reasons: the time of day, the day of the week, physical activity, fluid retention, hormonal changes, particularly in women, it can even change depending on what you ate recently. Your body could be 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) heavier or lighter from one day to the next.
Oftentimes, when we’ve had periods where we are less active (like during the holiday season) we jump on the scale and are horrified! So, we join the gym or start running again and after a few months, we get back on that scale and are shocked that it hasn’t moved or worse yet, that our weight has actually gone up! But, how is that possible? Well, it’s actually completely normal because muscle mass weighs more than fat.
We really need to forget what we’ve been taught; “losing weight is good, and gaining weight is bad”. It is such an outdated idea. In fact, gaining weight in a healthy way can be good for your health, metabolism, and physiological functions.
Starting a workout routine where you gain muscle and gain weight can have many benefits:
- You feel stronger and are more energized.
- Your hair, nails, and skin get healthier and stronger.
- Your hormones balance out.
- You improve your metabolism.
- You start to have a better relationship with food: stop being afraid of fats, and stop worrying about the number on the scale because life isn’t about a number.
- Your muscles become stronger and more defined.
- Improves physical performance.
- Better quality rest at night.
Each time you step on that scale your case may change. One day you could weigh more, but that may be because you’ve gained muscle mass. Another day you may weigh less and can tighten your belt more. Or on the contrary, you could feel bloated and uncomfortable which might be because now you’ve gained more fat and your body is warning you to watch yourself.
Fewer scales and more tape measures
I happen to think that scales just make people obsessed with their weight and they fixate on some number that they consider ideal. There are many studies and health professionals who agree that instead of weighing yourself, you should measure yourself with a tape measure. Measure the contour of your waist, hips, thighs, and whatever else you are focusing on. This way you will know if you have gained fat or muscle.
It is especially important to measure the circumference of your waist circumference, where visceral fat is stored and is the cause for many health-related problems such as diabetes, cholesterol, respiratory issues, heart disease, etc. Remember that the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that a man’s abdominal circumference is no more than 102cm and that a woman’s is no more than 88cm.
“It’s better to lose 2 cms in your waist than 2 kilos on the scale.”
Another good way to keep track of ourselves is by taking a selfie of your body in the mirror and comparing it to last year’s photos. You could also simply go by how your clothes are fitting. Are they tighter than before, can you tighten your belt a little more? Or, do you have to find your baggier clothes or loosen your belt?
Bioelectrical Impedance Scale
These scales are the latest trend among athletes and might be useful when it comes to tracking your weight without obsessing over whether you’ve gained or lost a few pounds. Bioimpedance scales give specific data on what percentage of your weight is muscle and fat. It also tells you your Body Mass Index (BMI), your water retention levels, bone mass, basal metabolism …, so you can see exactly where your weight gain or loss comes from.
“If you stick to a healthy lifestyle with healthy habits and a balanced diet you won’t have to worry about numbers on a scale.”