When I started going to the gym, I weighed 54 kg and I was a size bigger than the size I am now. After a few months of regularly attending group fitness classes, I was a size smaller but my weight had gone up to 62 kg. Right now, my weight is still 60-something kg {I haven't weighed myself in ages, I pop onto a scale for fun when I see one at a gym or at a friend's house} and I absolutely don't care about sharing what I weigh because I know that this number means nothing in terms of fitness and health.

I explain why, below.

The weighing scale is not an accurate representation of what's happening in your body, your health, your wellness and how fit you are. In fact, it's not a representation at all. A standard scale is the measurement of only one thing- your total body weight. It's simply a number showing how heavy you are. And how heavy you are has nothing to do with how fit you are.

The three components of weight

Our body weight is made up of three things- muscle mass, fat, and water. What we want to do to get fitter, or lose weight {the term "lose weight" is used here to denote becoming thinner and fitter} is to reduce fat and water weight, and increase muscle mass. What a lot of people don't understand is that when you start an exercise program, you start to make your muscles denser and heavier. A muscle that weighs 5 kg takes up less space than fat weighing the same. So you might be getting thinner, but your weight might actually increase instead of reducing. And then when you get on the weighing scale to measure your progress, you feel completely demotivated!

Remember, fat takes up more room than muscle. So you could be getting thinner but your weight will go up.

Water weight is also something a lot of people don't consider. Lots of times, people begin drastic unhealthy diets to lose weight and they shed 4 or 5 kilos in a month or even sooner. They become very happy and continue, and then realize that they can't lose any more weight or that they're becoming weaker/ unhealthier. This is because they started to lose water weight when they started their crazy dieting and extreme exercise. I can't tell you how many demotivated students have told me that they know someone who started X diet and lost 5 kg in a month{losing 5 kg in a month is always alarming for me as an instructor}and 5 kg the next month, while the student's weight isn't moving. And I always tell them that that diet is not healthy, and their friend probably lost water weight as that's the first thing you start to lose.

Another reason why a weighing scale is not an accurate measure of your fitness is that it doesn't show you all the improvements happening inside your body when you start to make your lifestyle healthier. It doesn't show you that your cholesterol has reduced, blood pressure is better, your heart is becoming stronger, etc. All these things will happen in a short time of you starting your fitness program, but you won't see any change in your shape and your weight. But these are such significant changes and even more important than what you look like physically.

Also, ladies, when you're near or have your period, you'll weigh more as we tend to retain more water during that time. Simply put, our weight fluctuates. You might weigh yourself in the morning and then again in the evening and find your weight shows a difference of 2 kg. You obviously can't put on 2 kg of fat from morning to evening!

How to measure progress without a weighing scale?

Now you're probably wondering how do you know if you're on the right track if you don't get on a weighing scale? Well, there are lots of ways.

You could get your measurements checked on a body composition scale. Such a scale shows you exactly how much water, fat and muscle mass is in your body. It shows you the percentages of each. If you're on a good workout program. you'll notice water and fat percentages go down, and muscle mass increases over time. When I started going to the gym regularly, I used to get a body composition analysis done every month to check my progress. It really helped as I could see what percentage of muscle I had increased, and the percentage of body fat I had. NB: A percentage of 20% body fat is optimal.

Another way to measure your success is to measure in inches, not kilos. So take your body measurements with a measuring tape- your waist, hips, thighs, etc. See how much you lost in inches. Or simply, look at how your clothes are fitting you. Are your pants becoming looser? Does a tight dress not feel so tight anymore? These are the type of things you can notice.

Yet another way to measure your fitness is to check your stamina levels and overall health. You'll find yourself huffing and puffing lesser when you climb stairs. You find it easier to lift heavy objects because your muscles are getting stronger. Your energy levels are better. You're sleeping better. You find that the things that used to stress you out before, don't stress you out as much now. All these are indicators of positive change happening to your health, and these are the signs you should be looking for.

To summarize, the weighing scale is a device that will only give you a lot of stress. If you have one at home, either give it away or use it strictly only for measuring the weight of luggage. Better yet, get a proper luggage scale and throw the weighing scale one out. If it's at home, you'll always be tempted to weight yourself and get horrified when you see how much you weigh.

P.S: Never, ever, let anyone make you feel ashamed of your weight. Sometimes women like to ask questions to other women like- what's your weight? Or a man may tell you- ugh, you're so heavy. 

Remember that your weight is just a number and doesn't show how strong and fit you are, or what a beautiful, kind and compassionate human being you are. So just keep doing everything you can to be healthy, fit and a good human being, and stop looking at that weighing scale!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts/ experiences with weight loss and fitness or any questions you may have. Leave me a comment below, after this post!

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Until next time,

Shabana Feroze

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