Withings Body Scale Dashboard

Everyday Fitness: It’s Not Your Weight

Wrong ideas with quite some truth to them make the best excuses. The issue of body types and their influence on weight is easily one of the best examples:

You are just skinny, I’m just more heavily built.
So, you burn it all quickly, I just put on weight…

One-size-fits-all suggestions of an ideal weight for a certain height do fail to take body type and fitness into account, but blaming weight (and/or fitness) problems on nothing but body type is just too easy a way out.

More at home in reality, better than the unthinking mediocrity of life we often put up with because it’s just what surrounds us – that’s what I’m after. Getting body and mind together, and looking beyond surface “good” or “bad” states, is very necessary for it.

After all, one can indeed be heavy-set and fit, just as another can be skinny, but not fit.

Skin fold, or fat fold?
Skin fold, or fat fold?

Being fat and unfit hardly feels good, and when you are surrounded by an environment that promotes thinness as a virtue, it’s all the worse.
Being thin and unfit is much easier to bear in such an environment, but just as heavy a burden. It may be even worse because it is supported in that environment, and thus it does not exert any pressure towards better.

Still, even some sports people are weight lifters, while others are ultramarathon runners. Most of us are probably neither of those extremes – but we still are, live, and move as, the bodies we are. We need to be able to carry something, to walk or run somewhere, to take care of our health and capabilities.

Weight does not count for much when looking at things like that, from the basis of health and capacity to perform.

You step on the scale, you read off your weight, you are happy you are thin, happier when you are thinner, sad if you are fat? Forget it.

Let’s bring in a woman’s voice, from a beautiful blog post about weight/figure issues:

It took me years to realize and to really believe myself when I said that life is not about weight. It IS about food. It is about what you eat and how you treat yourself.
But it´s not about that number on your scale.

Personally, I weigh easily two pounds less after a long run with lots of sweating, and about the same more than usual when I ate a larger dinner and weigh myself the next morning. What counts is not the weight at a certain point in time, it’s the average and the trend over longer periods.

That’s still not all that counts. When you start exercising, it’s very unlikely to make you shed pounds. Not least, you probably need to gain muscles – and those are heavy, too. Someone who’s been exercising a lot, on the other hand, could lose weight on a diet – but if the weight lost is actually muscle mass lost, that’s probably not good for their fitness.

The proper data comes from not just measuring weight trends, but also body fat percentages and their trending.

Fat is not only what stores energy for the long term, but also a substance that has essential roles for bodily functioning. So, there has to be a certain amount of it in a healthy, living body – and especially a female one. Get over it. Still, there shouldn’t be too much.

Body fat measurements available to lay people tend to be even more prone to fluctuations than those in weight, though. Their trends, however, show whether a diet and/or exercise regimen is letting you lose weight by having you lose water (which is short-term and useless) or muscles (which is worse than useless) or really shedding pounds of fat which are beyond a necessary percentage.

Nutritionists used to advise people not to weigh themselves more than once a week — supposedly so as not to get discouraged by fluctuations — but recent research has shown that daily weigh-ins work better.
(From the New York Times)

Withings Body Scale Dashboard
All stable now, for better or worse…

With the quantified self movement have come nice tools for following these trends. My favorite – and I have kept my weight basically unchanged for such a long time, I never thought I’d ever buy myself a scale – is the Withings Body Scale.

Not only does it measure weight, but also body fat percentage. Set up on a Wi-Fi network, it transmits both to one’s personal dashboard on the Withings website or mobile app. This way, setting up a routine of regular measurement (for me: I wake up, go to the bathroom, get undressed, get on the scale, then go on with my day), it is easy to see where the trend curves are going – and you get the important view of both weight and body fat…

There’s a good start. Not with one number, but with numbers and trends that count.

And what's your take?