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Health & fitness: Scales should not measure self-worth

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By Kim Lazarus

I was at the gym the other night and I stepped on the scale only to realize a disappointment waving through me like a hurricane. I have been trying to exercise more and eat better for what?Only to find this disappointment.I then stood back and watched a few other people get on the scale. The first being a woman whom I thought looked terrific. She too expressed disappointment. Then two men approached the scale and they were pleasantly happy with the results of the reading on the scale.How can it be possible to have an inanimate object determine how we feel about ourselves?We just weighed our self-worth and that isn’t what scales are for.Scales are merely a tool to get feedback on where we are and where we may want to be as far as our weight is concerned. Using the scale wisely along with other measuring devices can be helpful and not detrimental if kept in perspective.Wise use of the scale depends on where you are in your weight change process. I say weight change because some people also are trying to gain weight where others want to lose weight.It is recommended at the early stages of weight change to weigh yourself daily. Actually if you weigh yourself a few times per day you can figure out what time of day you weigh your least and what time you are at your highest weight.If you weigh yourself in the morning before you eat breakfast, it will give you the low end of your personal weight fluctuation and will give you the information you will need to set your daily calorie goal. Your weight may fluctuate two-to-eight pounds throughout the day and that is why it is recommended to weigh yourself two-to-three times daily the first week or so to determine how your body holds weight and changes throughout the day.Let’s say you just had some food and water. Food and water will add weight. One quart of water weighs about two pounds. If you weighed yourself then had a gallon of water and hopped right back on the scale, your weight would be almost nine pounds heavier.When you have reached your weight-change goals and are in your maintenance phase then it’s advisable to weigh yourself once a week. After you have been in maintenance for six months, weighing yourself one time per month would be adequate. After six months you have had enough experience with the lifestyle changes to keep yourself in check without the use of a scale.A scale doesn’t necessarily provide body fat composition information. There are some scales that do and they tend to be fairly expensive and I am not sure of their accuracy.Measuring body fat can be done fairly precisely by caliper testing as long as the same person is performing the test on you with the same instrument on a consistent basis. The reliability is as good as the instrument and person performing the test. This type of testing along with the scale is just measuring change.Fat testing is a means to compare results from one week to the next. I would also advise everyone to take a good look at themselves with minimal clothing on in the mirror and also feel how your clothes are fitting. These two methods may be good methods as well.Muscle is denser than fat. When people first start an exercise program it is not uncommon to have the scale go up due to an increase in muscle mass. After weeks of discipline the pounds of fat will come off. Be patient. It takes time before results kick in. Don’t give up if the scale doesn’t change immediately. Regular exercise along with a disciplined diet is necessary before change takes place. It usually takes me six weeks of disciplined exercise before any noticeable change takes place.Just remember, you can work off those holiday pounds with patience and persistence.