In today’s world of reality shows and the glorification of Instagram and TV celebrities and where women are the primary consumers of all kinds of fashion and showbiz magazines, they find it quite hard, if not outright impossible to meet the frankly impossible body standards that the mainstream media propagates as ideal. And yet, thousands of women start crash diets hoping in vain to lose some extra pounds or psychologically torture themselves on the scale every morning, hoping that the number on the scale will decrease every time, with all their self-esteem depending on whether the number on the scale went up or down. This type of behavior is very damaging in the long term.
Everyone should have a scale at their home, but it doesn’t mean you should become a slave to it. Some are incredibly and they don’t even own one. In reality, they aren’t even that precise when it comes to measuring your progress since they don’t differentiate between water weight, muscle weight, body fat weight etc. That’s why if you plan on buying a scale you should get one of the hi-tech options that precisely measures your body fat. Going on a crash diet and losing lots of weight quickly, inevitably leads to greater muscle and water loss, which besides being totally unhealthy, won’t bring you any closer to the results that you aim for.
Healthy fat loss actually means concentrating on losing body fat slowly while still gaining muscle mass, which leads to a more well-developed and leaner physique in the long term. You can read about several myths going around about muscle tissue versus fat tissue. First, you might have read that muscle tissue, when resting, burns more a greater number of calories than fat. This one is true. Muscle tissue can burn up to 7 to 10 calories a day, per pound, while fat tissue burns 2-3 calories per pound. You may have also heard that “muscle weighs more than fat”. And we can already hear you saying that this is absurd, that a pound is a pound regardless of the substance. And you are right. The key parameter here is density, and muscle tissue is more dense than fat, so when weighing portions of the same size it can weigh more.
Muscle weighs 1.1g.ml, while fat 0.9g.ml. This means that one liter of muscle weighs 2.3 lbs, while one liter of fat weighs 1.98 lbs. However, considering that muscle tissue is denser, it takes up less volume than fat tissue. If you decide on beginning a weight training program, at first, you might not necessarily see changes in your body in the form of loss of fat, but you will gradually see yourself become more defined and slimmer overall. This is the time where alternative options of self-measurement come in handy.
So, instead of looking at the scale each morning, you can try the “do my work pants fit?” test. Can you comfortably put them on before and after lunch? If yes, then you’re making progress! Besides, not all fats are bad for your health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids are great for the proper development of the brain, eyesight and heart health. Monounsaturated fats which are found in olive oil, nuts, and avocado, increase the energy expenditure while resting, which is the burning of calories per pound when you don’t do any physical activity.
Fruits such as coconut contain medium-chain fatty acids in them, which the liver metabolizes instead of storing them as fat deposits in your body. It all comes down to making the right food choices, and not eliminating food entirely. You might ask why bother learning all of this, or training in the gym and spending time on meal preparations? When you look at it from a long-term perspective, you are what you eat, and experiencing rapid fluctuations in your weight from going on/off on diets is not good for you. It inevitably leads to reduced strength, physical performance, decreased immunity and accelerated aging. About the last one, we can all agree it’s one we are desperately trying to avoid.
Now that we’ve discussed all of this, what is that you can do instead of focusing at what the scale shows. You should focus on your overall fitness and wellness. Take yoga or pilates classes to increase your flexibility and balance. Do more cardio sessions so that you can run longer distances without immediately gasping for air. Build more lean muscle tissue and constantly strive to progress using heavier weights. The body will thank you for it in the long term; lunges and squats are truly a woman’s best friend. Striving to get to a magic number at which we will suddenly look athletic and slim is a lost cause.
Women as a gender have lots of variations in height, fat distribution, and body composition. That’s why you need to stop obsessing over some arbitrary numbers you see on the scale. Instead, put your focus on living a more active lifestyle and measuring your progress not by the number on the scale, but with the level of energy you have and how comfortable you feel in your own body.