Our fascination with the scale is broken.
Or better said… it has broken us.
On a regular basis this machine inspires moods and actions filled with anxiety, despair, hatred, disgust, and impatience. The very last thing we think about when we consider weight is that it’s simply the force on an object due to gravity. And so even though we understand scales to be tools fit to equip our science labs, at home we’ve warped them into the equivalent of a fancy 8 ball that determines the quality of our day, disposition, and diet.
The true source of our love-hate relationship with the scale can be felt when we allow our opinions of ourselves to change by a simple early morning reading.
Feeling frumpy because of too much wine and chips during the weekend?
- A. Step on the scale and see no change. – Sigh of relief.
- B. Step on the scale and see the number go up. – Panic, pinching, and loathing.
- C. Step on the scale and see the number go down. – Lottery ticket win!
Feeling all kinds of lean and skinny because of all those salads you’ve been munching on all week?
- A. Step on the scale and see no change. – Grit your teeth and wonder what more you need to do to make the scale budge.
- B. Step on the scale and see the number go up. – Panic, pinching and loathing. How is this possible? You’ve been “so good.” Now you just want to eat all the cookies in the pantry.
- C. Step on the scale and see the number go down. – FINALLY… some positive reinforcement.
Look and sound familiar?
Are our health and vanity ambitions truly so LIMITED in proportion that scale weight is honestly the end goal?
A goal where one simple number voids the value of CONSISTENT ACTIONS proven to create a better quality of life, leaner more compact but heavier muscle, longevity, and undeniable sex appeal?
That may all sound super melodramatic but the reality is I’m answering questions left and right about 600 calorie diets that are SHRINKING men, women, and wallets in size.
In this blog, I hope to settle your mind and begin to shift your perspective from a FALSE PROGRESS mindset guided by SMALLNESS to an independent thinking and confident attitude capable of creating POSITIVE PROGRESS balancing looks and lifestyle as the final destination.
FIRST, WHAT IS FALSE PROGRESS?
Google the definition of progress and you get an “advance or development toward a better, more complete, or more modern condition.”
I understand this to mean that in order to consider any change, physical and/or mental, a step towards progress then my quality of life and the experiences I have must be improved, voids that previously existed filled in, and lead me to achieve things previously out of my grasp.
Is a smaller number on the scale giving this to us?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.
False progress may provide an outcome, such as smaller scale weight, that is perceived to be superior but in fact does not actually “advance or develop a person toward a better, more complete, or modern condition.”
In other words:
- If the smaller number condemns you to a life full of boiled chicken dipped in mustard, steamed broccoli sprinkled by Ms. Dash, and a sweet potato as the only “safe” carb, then is your smallness progress?
- If you’re incapable of completing a workout and tapping into that energizing workout high where you feel more powerful than Iron Man himself, then is your smallness progress?
- If you’re so sugar deprived you yell at your children half the day, can’t function at work because you’re daydreaming of your next meal that’s still 90 minutes away, then is your smallness progress?
- If you’re losing muscle as fast as fat and declining the rate of your metabolism with each pound lost, then is your smallness progress?
I am not against anyone lowering their calories to lose weight. In terms of fat loss… calories are king. You MUST BE at a caloric deficit in order to lose weight. Period. Non-negotiable.
I’m actually pretty hopeful when people lower their calories and also DECREASE their exercise at the same time. That may surprise you to hear as personal trainers and studio owners like myself make a living off helping other’s exercise.
Then again… if we’re talking about creating PROGRESS for people that means we lead them to THEIR best path, not our own.
Decreasing exercise and calories at the same times provides our system the opportunity to rest, reset, and heal from physical and mental stresses that make fat loss hormonally difficult.
If we’re able to do this AND eat high quality whole foods, we’re taking an amazing first step towards health, wellness, and fat loss. We are, in fact, making progress.
And so what angers me is not asking people to change their routines and lower their calories…
- It’s lowering people’s calories well below their BMR, basal metabolic rate. Which, if you’re unaware, your BMR is simply the amount of calories you expend while at rest and fasted. It is your bare minimum to survive!
- It’s not educating people on the complicated steps AFTER one has been in an extreme low calorie state for long periods of time. If you’re coaching people to go below their BMR (shame on you but), your ass should also be including in your package deal some very hands on coaching on REVERSE DIETING… so that people don’t jump right back into their “regular” calorie range and wonder why TF their gaining weight faster than ever.
- It’s lowering people’s calories without educating them on the importance of keeping their protein high… so that as they lose weight we can better control the ratio of fat to muscle loss.
- It’s holding people hostage to purchasing pre-packaged foods you sell and making them believe the secret sauce to success is in the product and not in their consistent behavior.
- It’s not coaching people how to eat more once they exercise more so that they stabilize hunger and energy and gain important, quality of life altering muscle once their bodies have had enough of being at a deficit.
Are your ACTIONS truly developing your body AND habits towards a better QUALITY of life, more COMPLETE shape, and a more ENERGIZED condition?
If you’re measuring your changes IMPLEMENTING the definition of progress rather than SMALLNESS into your fitness/wellness efforts, you’re less likely to be moved into extremes.
If the scale budges or not, there are considerations that are to be weighed along with scale stagnation.
- Am I having fun during my workouts? Can I get through them better, faster, stronger? POSITIVE PROGRESS
- Can I see sexy new muscles in my legs, glutes, waist, shoulders? Body composition change! POSITIVE PROGRESS
- How’s my mood before meals? Is my more hunger predictable? POSITIVE PROGRESS
- Have I stopped overeating at night? POSITIVE PROGRESS
- Am I sleeping through the night? POSITIVE PROGRESS
- Do I look forward to my meals? POSITIVE PROGRESS
- Am I still able to hang out and have a social life? POSITIVE PROGRESS
I am not against ALTERING parts of our lives that aren’t serving the goals we have in mind for ourselves. I’m also not against EFFORT… as ALL habit change, big or small, is hard work.
However, I am 100% against the idea that SMALLNESS on the scale can automatically be read as progress and that any route to fat loss are paths towards health, happiness, and satisfaction.
Go ahead. Eat 600 calories/day for the next 6 weeks.
You will, without a doubt, have created a smaller body.
You will NOT, however, have created ANYTHING close to matching the definition of PROGRESS.