Whether you’re asking someone or you’re the one being asked, this is a question that tends to stir up all sorts of emotions. Over the years people have learned to be conscious of their weight for too many reasons to count. I am here to tell you why what you weigh does not matter.
I get asked on a regular basis how much I weigh personally, and I am often reluctant to respond – not because I don’t want people to know how much I weigh, but because I don’t want to give this number any more importance than it already has.
First, if you are asking someone how much they weigh, you are looking to compare yourself to them. Please do not do this to yourself! Someone’s weight is determined by SO many different factors – family history and genetics, metabolism, behaviors, habits and most importantly in a fitness context– muscle mass!
You have probably heard the saying “muscle weighs more than fat” at one point or another along your fitness journey. This statement, word for word, is false. If you compare one pound of muscle to one pound of fat – they both weigh one pound!
However, if we are to talk about the density and volume of both muscle and fat, this is where we are getting somewhere. If you look at one pound of muscle next to one pound of fat, you will notice their volume and composition differ entirely. Muscle is smooth, lean, and is more dense and compact than fat, therefore it takes up less space in your body. Fat is lumpy, gelatinous and less dense than muscle, meaning it takes up more space in your body. In fact, fat takes up four times as much space in your body as muscle!
Since working out burns fat and builds muscle, this means you may not see the number on the scale move as much as you expected it to. In some cases, you may even see the number go up! For myself personally, I had a few weeks off from working out while I was traveling in the US this last summer, and after a few weeks back on my strength training routine, I had gained weight! Yet I was less bloated, seeing more muscle definition and feeling a million times better. This is because the scale did not tell me that I had gained muscle, yet gotten rid of the extra fat I had gained during my travels.
The bottom line is – the scale does not tell you how much fat versus muscle you have, so it is not an accurate measure of your progress.
A more accurate measure is getting your body fat percentage taken. This can be done at most gyms or doctor offices. When I started out on my journey, I was 24% body fat and weighed 135lbs. Anyone who follows my personal Instagram page knows I admit that I was not overweight at the beginning of my journey. 135lbs is a perfectly normal and healthy weight, however I was eating only fast food and though I was in my early 20’s, I was very unhealthy for my age. You cannot always tell someone’s health by looking at them from the outside. Someone who is skinny can actually be even more unhealthy than someone who appears overweight on the outside, but I will save that discussion for a later date.
Fast forward to today and I weigh 127lbs…that is not much difference, is it? But I feel like a completely different person, my clothes fit totally different and I now have 17% body fat. That means I lost a mere 7 lbs while losing a whopping 7% body fat. This is because for all that body fat I lost, my weight stayed roughly the same due to the muscle I gained in place of it.
And my journey has not been a fast one, due to work, school, travel and life. It has been a little over two years since I began, so if over the course of two years I had been fixated with the number on the scale, I likely would be entirely depressed, deflated and discouraged at the idea of losing only 7 lbs after all this hard work.
A side note for those that are thinking to themselves, “Well, I don’t want to gain muscle or get bulky..” let me set your mind at ease right now – You will not get bulky! Women do not have the natural level of testosterone in their bodies in order to spur mass muscle growth. The women you see that are insanely fit and have a lot of muscle in places you didn’t even know we could get muscles, have worked very hard to achieve that specific look, and have likely taken supplements to get there. It will not happen on accident. If that is what you’re looking to achieve – more power to you! You are capable of shaping your body in whichever way you want to, regardless of what others think (as long as you’re being healthy).
When women gain natural muscle and lift weights, it shapes, tones and leans out our body, increases our metabolism and allows our bodies to burn more fat. Yes, that is another benefit of strength training – the more muscle you have, the more fat your body is able to burn!
So, how should you go about tracking your health and fitness journey?
First, get a body fat percentage test done, and do this monthly. A healthy guideline for losing body fat is 1% per month if you are really committed, 2% at the most. Any more than this is unhealthy to put your body through that amount of extreme stress.
Second, pay attention to how you feel and look in the mirror and your clothes fit! This is the most important part of your journey. Don’t try to lose weight or get in shape in order to attain a certain weight on the scale – you should be doing it to feel better about yourself and your health. A number on a scale will not give you that.
Tip: Take progress pictures! Even if you never show them to anyone, progress pictures are one of the best ways to notice changes and progress in your own body. When looking in the mirror day to day, you won’t notice these small changes as much as when you compare pictures side by side that are weeks apart. Take pictures in the same clothes, with the same stance, same background, etc. Keep as many of the variables the same as possible.
Third, put that scale away. At the very most, step on it once a month if you need to, but no more than that. We are women, our weight fluctuates naturally due to water weight, hormones and that time of the month. Do not step on it daily or even weekly and beat yourself up over something that is outside of your control anyways
What I want you to know is this: a number should not be the measure of your success. Two people can weigh the exact same, yet have totally different body fat percentage levels and be in totally different states of health. Be concerned more with your health, what foods and how much exercise is going to help you optimize your health and feel your best, and the physical results will follow!
So how about you? Do you weigh yourself often? Does how much you weigh hold much importance to you? Let me know what you think!