Ok. So I’m going to create a lot of enemies. But, what the heck. I’m reckless like that. The term Weight Watchers(R) makes me absolutely cringe. Why the heck would you want to WATCH your weight?!! I mean, when I see my weight…I lift it. Out of bed, and to my early morning workout. Weight is completely relative. And everyone’s ideal weight is different. On top of that, muscle is denser and much more desirable than fat. With all that is known about the advantages of gaining muscle, you would think people “get” it by now. And yet….
half the challengers I work with, are absolutely ADDICTED to their scales. They fret over every pound. Every ounce. And every morning they step on their diet god and wait for her to tell them whether she accepted their daily nutritional sacrifice. Well, as a fitness coach, I’m here to tell you that you can throw yours out if you like. And furthermore, you are free to never know exactly what you weigh ever again. But first, you must learn how to really “weigh” yourself. And why measuring is so much more important than weighing.
First, let’s look at this picture below. The personal trainer is measuring his client. But I bet you didn’t know that both of these men are 6 feet tall. But one weighs 210. The other weighs 208. Would you like to guess which is which?
Yup. The muscular guy on the left actually weighs 2 pounds MORE than the obese man on the right. Do I have your attention yet?
Yes. As we can see, muscle is denser and much more desirable than fat. On top of that, muscle is a greedy pig that loves to burn lots of calories while maintaining itself. Fat, on the other hand, is very giving. Fat loves to give high cholesterol readings, heart attacks, and even joint and back pain. But there’s something fat gives that people REALLY love. A lower reading on the scale. Oh yes. People will willingly give up 2 pounds of muscle just to maintain a certain reading on the scale.
Ok. So if weight isn’t such a big deal, why are people so obsessed with it? Every time I ask people, “So what’s your biggest fitness goal?” the response is almost ALWAYS the same. I hear people saying, “I’d like to lose _______ pounds.” First of all, many of these awesome clients (and you all KNOW who you are!) are very fortunate that I do a lot of coaching thru the phone and they are not standing there in person. They’re also very lucky that my iphone costs a LOT of money. Cuz this coachy baby wants to just HURL her phone at them. Why? BECAUSE LOSING WEIGHT IS NOT A FITNESS GOAL!!!!! It’s a result. (O.K. Coming off my soap box now.)
But let’s pretend that we’ve been reassigned to the moon. And now, because of the decline in gravity, everyone now weighs much, much less. Do you think people will say, “Man, this moon suit is getting really tight. I’m sure glad we moved to the moon. Because on earth I would’ve had to lose 5 pounds. But now I only need to lose about 1.6.” Hmmmmm.
No peeps. While weight is a great indication that you’re heading in the right or wrong direction, it’s not how you want to measure your progress. What you really want, is to measure your athleticism and your fat loss. Why? Because athleticism measures your ability to live a happy and healthy life. Athleticism is a measure of your balance, speed, endurance, and flexibility. It can even be an indication of your possible life span. But here’s what you care about. An athlete’s body will look good and carry very little unnecessary fat.
So how do you measure athleticism? And how do you measure body fat?
Well, athleticism depends on your end goal. If you want to run a faster 5K, then you’ll need to measure things such as your gait stride, your mile, and your heel strike. But all of these measurements mean nothing to a weight lifter. And if you want to have the body of a yogi, then you’ll need to measure how close you can get your foot to your face! So let’s just learn how we measure the result of athleticism. Namely, how do we measure the fat loss?
Easy. With a tape measure. If you start out with a 36 inch waist, and you know that in varsity football you had a 32 inch waist, then it’s pretty safe to say that you probably need to lose 4 inches. Now those 4 inches could be the equivalent of a 25 pound loss. Or a measly 5 pound loss. But 32 inch pants sure do look nice, don’t they?
You can also measure fat loss by your energy levels. Fat saps your energy. And can cause exhaustion or fatigue in your workouts. Muscles, however, become fatigued. They also can be exhausted. But muscles will not cause you to feel sick or give you heart or lung problems. In the end, being muscular will allow you to have the strength and energy needed to complete day to day tasks.
Another wonderful way a fitness coach will have you measure fat loss is by your measuring the decrease in back, neck, and joint pain. While strong, flexible muscles tend to help support your back, increase your neck mobility, and decrease hip, knee, and shoulder joint issues; fat does just the opposite. Fat places a lot of stress on your body and can ruin your posture. For women that have excess fat stored in the breast tissue, it can cause terrible shoulder, neck, and rib cage pain. The bra alone can become a vice that doesn’t allow pain free movement. And many candidates for knee surgery know that being even just slightly overweight can cause permanent damage to a knee or an ankle joint. On the other hand, fat loss can help stave off replacement surgery.
Lastly, some fitness coaches may have you measure your emotional and mental states. If we note that our clients are losing weight, but also losing their joy, then we will be quick to note whether or not true fat loss is occurring. While emotions ARE stored in the fat, if proper nutrition is occurring, then clients will be more capable of dealing with these host of emotions. If someone is unhappy while losing weight, the weight loss becomes secondary. First, we must make sure the journey is a fun and happy one.
So PLEASE! Remember that weight is just a snapshot in time. But measurements are the real deal. Use your scale, not as an indication of your self-worth or even of your progress. Rather, use the scale to make sure that you’re not headed in the wrong direction. Oh, and to check the weight on your baggage when you travel. Gotta make sure you don’t have too heavy of a suitcase!
Yes, remember that a true coach, will always make you MEASURE!
If you’d like a sheet to help you track your measurements, feel free to print out my Measurement Tracker. This 2 page sheet will help you to measure not just your body fat, but also your strength, cardio output, and overall progress of your goals. Those of you who are doing an official challenge with me through the BeachBody Challenge Tracker App, can enter your measurements right into the app on your phone or tablet!