In the earliest history of scales, merchants used these devices to assess the value of goods like grain, gold, and livestock. Imagining how it came to be a tool for evaluating humans might have looked something like a group of guys goofing around in an ancient warehouse in a jolly debate about who was ‘bigger’. Regardless of the justification by which the scale was elevated to its current role in human health, it is safe to say that the scale has been promoted to its level of incompetence.
The numbers reflected on the face of a scale have taken a leading role in the personal evaluation of health, sex appeal, social acceptance, and ‘value’. We all know too well how destructive and debilitating that connection can be. A lot of people simply resign to ban scales from the bathroom and find other, more emotionally stable means of assessing their ‘value’. In reality, the bathroom scale is little more than an idiot light, like the one that tells you there is something wrong with your car. BUT it does have a valuable role in a support capacity.
If the bathroom scale is not the key player in monitoring your states of health, then what is? It’s not your BMI!
Body composition is an evaluation of key players that comprise your physical self. Fatty tissues, Bone Mass, and Muscle tissues (Lean Mass) are all critical to your health and wellbeing. When you hop on the scale, it simply gives you a blanket number but fails to clue you in on what, where, and why shifts in your composition might be taking place. It’s also true that no change on the bathroom scale could mislead you into thinking that nothing is changing when, in fact, there could easily be a 1:1 shift between your lean and fat tissue masses. In this equation, the bathroom is just a sidekick.
I recognize that you may not be all too concerned about developing ripped biceps and poppin’ quads, but I do typically get people’s attention when I talk about thinning bone mass and the undesirable degradation towards frailty and ‘skinny-fat.’
The Ideal Combo
An inexpensive body fat analyzer, bathroom scale, and a flexible tape measure can tell you how best to adjust your diet and activity. In the broader scope, it’s a relatively inexpensive investment that puts you in control of your healthy goals. Sticking with objective measures is a great way to eliminate unnecessary hurdles. Emotions, judgment, perceptions, and body image complications are taken out.
The scale will tell you of a ‘net-aggregate’ change – even when that change is zero. You plug that data into your bodyfat analyzer that tells you WHAT is shifting – and you just might be surprised. Your tape measure (girth measurements) tells you WHERE those shifts are taking place. Different foods stimulate different endocrine glands to produce hormones that target specific areas of the body for fat storage: WHY.
WHAT + WHERE + WHY = HOW!
Keep in mind that we cannot actually measure bone density in this scenario. And it is lumped in with muscle mass as LEAN MASS. Nonetheless, it is implied as you look at the overall package. There is also a significant difference in the schedule to engage each tool. When you are actually intending to make a change like losing weight, gaining muscle, or being mindful of changes that are taking place out of your intentional efforts. I recommend tracking your weight on the scale daily, performing a body comp weekly, and measuring girth once a month.
Your weight is going to fluctuate on a regular basis. Water weight comes into play most frequently and can be a good indication of inflammation. When my fat analyzer registers additional fat mass that doesn’t quite make sense, it is typically due to water retention. You have to keep in mind that the cheap fat analyzer for home use runs off a mathematical equation that has its own inherent limitations.
As you can gather, there is an art to evaluating how all the pieces come together. However, there is a bit of a learning curve in shifting your understanding of the bathroom scale. It’s a journey well worth the time of anyone seriously looking to stay ahead of the curve. The bathroom scale is not the demon you may have come to believe it to be. But, it’s also not the definitive ‘last word’.