I have always had my opinions on using weight as a way of recording fitness progress. Yes, body weight is something that needs some attention, but placing all of your focus on how much the scale goes up or down can be dangerous.

I am an athlete and when I am fully into my training, whatever sport that may be at the time, I am fit, I am strong, I am healthy and I weigh a lot. But my body feels fantastic and my clothes fit great. My muscular body is representing the life I am living, which is one of early nights, early mornings, healthy meals and lots of sweat. When I am not training, perhaps due to an injury or maybe due to dealing with an emotional struggle like the loss of a loved one, I am ‘skinny’, I am weak, I am not fit, and I am 20 pounds lighter than I should be. I can’t ride my mountain bike as I used to, I can’t run as far as I would like, and my clothes hang off me. But why is it during these times that I receive the most compliments on how I look? Why is it that I am most well-received when I am my least healthy, both physically and emotionally?

I have a male client right now who is a busy physician and loves his red meat and red wine as much as he loves to ride his bike up any mountain he can find. We all know that you cannot out-exercise a bad diet, and although his diet is not necessarily bad, it is rich and decadent. He has always struggled with shedding a few pounds so he could ride faster, but he has never been able to find balance. So today, during his session, he told me that he is on an extreme diet, which he is paying a lot of money for, in order to lose weight fast. For 6 weeks he is cutting back his calories to a point where he is not even allowed to exercise. A man, a doctor at that, who loves to ride his bike as much as he can, has allowed himself to become so obsessed with the scale that he is giving up all he loves to lose weight. And in 10 days he has lost 12 pounds. It does not take a rocket scientist to tell you that he is not losing just body fat. How is eating a balanced diet and enjoying life considered less healthy than 6 weeks of calorie restricted, prepackaged food and zero exercise?

I have also been working with another client who has put most of her focus for this past year into what the scale says and the other day when the scale had stopped moving, she became extremely frustrated.  It did not matter that she was eating a balanced diet and was fitter than she has been in a long time, as now all of her hard work seemed pointless because the scale had stopped moving.

Why am I sharing this? Because I want to make a point that what shows up on the scale is just a number, and although it is a representation of your lifestyle and will change depending on what lifestyle you are living, it is a guide and not your sole representation of fitness. Rather than ending your week judging yourself on what the scale is telling you, end your week celebrating the challenges you set for yourself and overcame. Maybe it was doing 60 minutes of exercise daily, or going an entire week without added sugar or putting away the wine opener on “school nights”, or starting each day with a healthy and balanced breakfast. If you focus your energy on your actions, when you do step on the scale and it reads one way or the other, you will understand why.

And remember, send your own Smutty Fitness questions to me here.