Updated: Feb 21, 2019
I recently read an article in the free publication COACH.
COACH is one of those magazines they give away outside tube stations and which can help kill time until you get to your place of work.
Or to the gym, of course!
Anyway, the article that caught my attention had quite a provocative title. Called ‘Exercise works, whatever the scales say’, it essentially made the argument that if you don’t see measurable changes when you step on the scales, your exercise regime is likely to be doing you some good in the form off reducing visceral fat (also known as ‘the hidden menace’ that cloaks your organs and is linked with a whole number of health issues).
The article backs up this argument by using a study published in the Journal of Obesity (and just thinking about that title makes me feel lethargic) which argues that even if you don’t lose any weight, 2 to 6 months of exercising can still result in a 6% reduction of visceral fat.
I like this type of article because it gives you a more sophisticated view of your own body and how it works. This is particularly helpful if you work or spend a lot of your free time in a place like a gym, where your physical appearance can have a huge impact on your self-esteem and even your social standing.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
However, what matters more in terms of your self-respect (which is, if you think about it, more important) is how you feel about your body, your goals and your progress moving towards meeting those goals.
Or, to put it another way, don’t let a set of scales or a potentially random number define who you are.
You are more than either of these things!
For example, if you train and lift weights (which I do) you are likely to build muscle. Muscle is also heavier than fat. As a result, when you step onto a set of scales you will be heavier or will weigh the same moving forward, even if you exercise regularly.
Your body fat, however - and this is the important take out - will be lower. This in itself is a paradigm that you can either live with, or about which you have a problem. But it is also a fact of training that to build your fitness programme, what you gain may not be obviously measured when you focus on kilograms or ounces, but that fat will still be reducing inside your body.
Even if it gets bigger and more muscular on the outside (if this is indeed your goal).
And the moral of the story?
It’s simple really: Keep moving, keep training, and don’t let the numbers rule your progression, because it’s you that does that. If you go to the gym, or engage in other kinds of sport, you are likely to achieve great (or at the very least good) things with and for your body, and also for your mind.
I found the COACH article very encouraging, as it underlines the importance of looking at the bigger or the more sophisticated picture, and not narrowing your focus when you are training.
Personally, I would recommend that once in a while people have a body scan. It can be a little expensive to do this, but body scans also give a very precise picture of what you are really made of, both outside and, perhaps more importantly, on the inside!
In the meantime, don’t worry too much about what your weight. Instead, keep moving and maintain a positive attitude, because at the end of the day it is you and not a set of scales under your feet that makes the change and who enjoys the reward.