Posts Tagged ‘body’

The bathroom scales is arguably the most common tool used en masse for measuring weight.  After that you can use the Body Mass Index [1], callipers (which measure the inches of skin in various areas of your body) or a measuring tape. More scientific and precise measures can also be seen such as hydrostatic weighing [2] or the DEXA scan [3], both of which are by far the most precise measuring tools but unfortunately are neither available, practical or affordable for the average person.

If you are overweight and you need to lose fat to be healthy I would certainly be taking note of the numbers on the scale but it is crucially important to remember that your initial weight loss will not be maintained. You could lose 7 pounds in your first two weeks then only 2 in the next two depending on how much fat your body has to lose. This is because your body is not only burning fat but gaining muscle. This is a good thing! As muscle burns more calories than fat the more muscle you have the more calories your body is going to burn at its resting metabolic rate – that is the amount of calories your body would burn at rest. This is why it is important not to get overly worked up about the number of scales, in all honesty it means very little. Tall people will always weigh more and musclely builds will too.

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Notice in this picture that the 5 pounds of fat is far larger then the 5 pounds of muscle. As muscle is heavier but not as voluminous you can have less volume on your body but actually weigh more.

Girls specifically seem really scared of the word “muscle” but I can assure you that women will never get BIG working out with weights, even heavy ones unless they train like a full time job, eat a weight gainer and take steroids or testosterone injections. Men and women basically need to train in the same way at the gym, with the only difference being how heavy they are lifting. The reason why is quite simple and it involves the sex hormones. Women do not have enough testosterone to gain muscle like a man. All women have testosterone in their bodies but at a tiny fraction compared to that of men. Testosterone enables men to see rapid changes in their body size and muscle growth when they begin weight training but because it’s so small in women you can lift heavy and merely see a toned and sculpted look. For this reason, girls you do not need to be afraid, you need to lift. No celebrity female with an enviable body will be lifting baby weights and of that I can assure you.

The best way to accurately measure your progress is to use multiple methods. All have their downfalls. Your weight on the scales for example, will vary considerably depending on the time of day you weigh yourself. This is because you hydration levels will fluctuate throughout the day. I can’t tell you how many times I have weighed myself before a workout and actually been heavier after! It’s because as you drink lots of water when you are at the gym, your weight will increase. One of the best ways to measure progress is to forget about the scales completely and start using your abilities as a measure. How many burpees [4] can you do in 3 minutes, how fast can you run that mile? All get your mind out of worrying about numbers and make you start thinking about how strong you feel. Thinking like this will not only enable you to have the courage to challenge yourself to new personal bests, but will also make it easier if the number on the scale stops or even creeps up one or two places. If you’re working out right and gaining muscle this is likely to happen at some point.

I believe the best way to accurately measure your progress is by taking pictures. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words and the internet is littered with photographs of peoples before and after weight loss picks and there is nothing better than seeing the difference right in front of your eyes. Remember you don’t have to go showing people, it’s just for you. Think of it like your big secret, “Oh yea I look like this now, but you should have seen what I used to look like, you should see what I’m going to look like 6 months from now!”

 

Take home points:

  • Don’t trust your scales alone
  • Expect your weight loss to vary week to week
  • Muscle weighs more than fat
  • The more muscle you have the more calories you will burn at rest
  • Girls do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to get big so don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights
  • Measure your progress by increasing how many times you can do something in a specific time
  • Take pictures to monitor your progress

References:

[1] Body Mass Index calculator – figure out your BMI: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm

[2] Hydrostatic weighing– http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/underwater.htm

[3] DEXA—Dual energy X-ray absorbtiometry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual-energy_X-ray_absorptiometry

[4] Burpees—If you didn’t have to do these during P.E class I envy you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_Dq_NCzj8M