Your Scales Lie! Understand the Right Measurements for Your Fitness Goals

Your Scales Lie! Understand the Right Measurements for Your Fitness Goals

Often Women (and sometimes men) have a body image that is connected to the read out on the scales. I understand. I have a scale that measures accurately to the tenth of a point and I used to weigh nude every morning as part of my routine, like brushing my teeth. If the number moved the wrong direction in relation to the day before, it impacted my mood and made me feel like a failure. Unfortunately, the scale, if used or interpreted incorrectly, can unfairly assess your progress toward healthy fitness goals. So while perhaps it is not quite accurate to say the scales lie... they can certainly mislead.

The scales measure weight. That's it, just weight. So if you are dieting, (trying to lose weight) or muscle building (trying to gain weight), the scales are one of several tools to help you assess your progress. Remember, body weight includes muscles, fat, soft tissue and water. The scales alone cannot tell you how you look, how you feel, how your clothes fit or if you are healthy.

A number of #organizations ranging from US Metropolitan Life Insurance, Weight #Watchers and even the US Army have published tables of recommended weights by age and gender. Despite the existence of recommended weight charts, each person is different and personal goals and activity level should be considered in the overall assessment of health.

Tables of recommended weights are designed to be guidelines around which to assess health not a strict set of numbers to achieve. Another common metric based on measurement of weight is the Body Mass Index or BMI. This metric is simply a calculation of height and weight which is better than weight alone but still forms an incomplete picture. (BMI formula is body weight in pounds times 703 divided my height in inches, squared.) For a BMI calculator go to http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm.

For several years I directed workplace wellness programs where employees are encouraged to complete a health risk appraisal annually including biometric testing. Many employers now require employees with a body mass index over a certain level (usually 27 or 28) to participate in additional classes, coaching or exercise programs to qualify for discounts on health insurance premiums. I support these programs as, in general, they promote awareness of health risks and often motivate employees to make needed lifestyle changes. However, these programs need to include the flexibility to include other factors such a body fat percent and key body #measurements.

If your body is not the body you want (too skinny, too fat, overweight or obese) and you want to improve your health, how you feel and your longevity; you likely need to start (or continue) a fitness program. Assess where you are (because no matter what- you need to deal from the deck of reality) and imagine where you would like to look like, feel like, etc. Then put a plan in place that will take you there. Get a coach if you need it, but just begin. Set milestone goals and measure the relevant metrics periodically to assess your progress. Don't weigh yourself every day unless you have a medical condition that requires fluid management.

Key Metrics:

  • Body Mass Index - Perform monthly
  • Weight - monthly and part of BMI metric
  • waist circumference
  • body fat percentage
  • measurement of arms/legs/hips/chest quarter
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Cindy Hochart RN, MBA has 20 years experience in health and fitness programs and helps people look better, feel better and achieve their goals.

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