Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Does Weight Carry So Much Weight?

I always joke some day I'm going to write a book some day about all the crazy things I see working in fitness centers over the years.  By far, some of the strangest behaviors involve the love/hate relationship with the scale.  Usually it's little love and a lot of hate.

I see those who insist on habitually weighing themselves daily.  Upon walking out of the locker room they make a beeline for it, resisting any and all distractions until the fate of the day is revealed.

Better yet is the practice of those who weigh themselves before doing an hour of unfocused, haphazard cardio.  As soon as their time is up or the display says 500 calories burned, they rush back over to weigh in again as if weight loss is as instantaneous as the cardio equipment transmitting a signal to the scale.

They move the scale four feet to the left in hopes of shaking another pound out of it.  They argue "that can't be right" or "that's not what my scale at home says".

Sometimes I want to giggle, other times I just shake my head.  If it's a particularly rough day I may contemplate throwing the damn thing in the middle of the street for passing cars to have their way with it just so I don't have to be witness to any more of these pointless scale rituals.

The reasons people feel the need to weigh themselves so often varies.  Usually they want to see some sort of instant gratification from all the hard work they're putting in.  But nine times out of ten, it ends the same.

Disgust.  Frustration.  Defeat.  And just like that their focus, motivation, and dedication diminishes.

Why do we hold so much value in one number at all?  It's not like we walk around with a sign on our chest displaying it for all to see.  So if no one else is privy to that information, why do we allow it to hold our emotions captive?

Start by shifting the focus to the elements that aren't measurable by the scale. Your increased energy levels, your ability to move pain-free, your decreased stress levels, or how easily your jeans button.

If you are meticulous by nature and need something to measure, track your behaviors before the results.  Focusing on the outcome more than the process of how to get there is like putting the cart ahead of the horse.  Did you get three or more training sessions in this week?  Are you eating a lean protein source with every meal?  Have you been replacing caloric beverages with water?  When these behaviors are practiced efficiently, the results tend to fall into place.

Don't get me wrong, the scale has a time and a place.  It is one way to help measure success.  It helps us do damage control quickly if the number starts to rise in the wrong direction.  It can be a wake up call for those who need it.  But it is one of many numbers that contribute to an overall health profile.

Scale weight is just one piece of the puzzle.  Don't allow weight to hold so much weight and neglect the rest of the pieces.  You need them just as much to finish the overall picture.

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