Aug 2, 2011

The scale is a fickle mistress

Many many years ago, I came across a media report of a study that a majority of people who were able to maintain weight loss were the ones who weighed themselves every day. I had never done that, but when I started this new lifestyle, I decided to try.

I kept track of my weights on an app on my iPod Touch. What an interesting graph they made! No straight line, this, but a jagged mountain-scape of gains and losses. I suppose I knew weight fluctuates hourly, and depends on so many things. Have you peed? Eaten? Spent time outside in the heat?

What surprised me the most were the odd results when I would "test" my scale. I came to not trust it very much at all. I mean, how could I trust a scale that tells me I gained a pound after going to the toilet?

This is just one of the ways that knowing or tracking ones weight is a useless endeavor.  I doubt any of us need a scale to know we are over or under weight. We can see it in the mirror, we can feel it in the fit of our clothes or the way our thighs rub together or how bony our hips or collarbones feel. If we must, we can track progress with weight loss or gain by using a tape measure. That is more accurate, but still doesn't tell the whole story.

I kind of knew this. I mean, I've been different sizes at the same weight before. 20 years ago, when I lived in Australia, there was even a terrific magazine article (which I have not been able to find) showing photos of 20+ "average" women - they were all 140 pounds and 5'4" tall. They all looked different. Some looked fat, some thin, some fit, some sadly out of shape. Yet, if we went solely by the scale, we would think they were all the same.

I was reminded of this in a spectacular way a week or so ago, when I came across this blog post by local trainer Jason Seib. Go on and check it out. Scroll down to that "before and after" photo and take a look at the weights listed. Now think if you are a person who might feel fat at that weight. Take a look at the right-hand photo. Think that woman is fat? Of course not. But the scale might tell her she is.

I can't promise to throw away my scale. But I can promise to see it, and love it, a little bit less.

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