Step Away From The Scales

Todays exercise. Pick up your scales. Go to the highest point in your house (roof is best). Lift said scales above head. Throw said scales with as much force as possible onto the hard surface below. Workout over.

Special guest starring Bel from Intensity PT, apart from being a great friend, gorgeous woman and all round top chic, Bel is a fabulous trainer and the amazing transformations of her clients and their positive attitudes are testament to this. I am CONSTANTLY telling people to get OFF the scales and Bel has some great reasons to help you make that shift.

Achieve your goals by focusing on something else. Yep! You read that right.

Almost all new clients say that their aim is to lose 5 kilos. No matter what weight they are now, more often than not they say that they need to lose 5 kilos.

Unfortunately, this kind of mentality (focusing on a number on the scales) can set you up for failure and can be very demotivating.

If I went on weight on the scales and reduction in ‘body weight’ as an indicator of my success as a personal trainer, I would have thrown in the towel ages ago. Clients can have a complete transformation without losing much (if any) weight on the scales. Yet, as women, we’re so hung up on what the scales say.

Many of us have a magic figure in our head – the ultimate weight or the ultimate dress size. Much of the time, the magic figure is totally unrealistic and generally irrelevant. Sometimes we’re chasing a particular weight on the scales because a hot-looking friend is that weight or a favourite actress is that weight – so it becomes our own goal.

I can’t count the number of times a client has changed the way they look, acknowledged that they feel better and that they are getting compliments about the way they look, acknowledged that they are stronger, fitter and feeling healthier, and then get all down on themselves when they hop on the scales and see that they weigh more/the same/marginally less than last time they stepped onto the scales.

It’s like a switch is flicked and their success is diminished by the number on the scale.

LADIES: PLEASE STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF. STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF EVERY DAY, ON DIFFERENT SCALES, AT DIFFERENT LOCATIONS, AT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE DAY, WEARING DIFFERENT CLOTHES.

Seriously, this stuff is just completely nuts.

Wouldn’t you rather focus on goals that have you feeling good about yourself on a regular basis, goals that give you confidence and help build self-esteem?

Ultimately women want to look good and part of that is having confidence in their body shape, but they also want to feel good about what they are doing. There is limited fun in training and dieting for fat loss alone. I honestly believe there needs to be more to it than that. You need to enjoy what you’re doing and get satisfaction from it. When you enjoy what you’re doing and you see results and feel benefits (whether that be lifting more, moving better, doing something faster or with less rest), it motivates you to keep going, it inspires you to dig a little deeper.

Thankfully the majority of the women I’m working with have come to the realisation that focusing on getting fitter, stronger and healthier is a more positive means to the end (that being a better body and better body confidence). Being part of a community and making physical activity and good nutrition a lifestyle is also important.

In my experience, when clients focus on fitness and strength goals, they are more positive and more committed to eating a healthy diet to support their training. Focusing on strength goals instead of weight loss can change the way a woman thinks about her training and nutrition, and can lead to a more positive attitude towards her body. Being capable becomes a motivator, rather than being skinny.
Clients get excited when they realise they’re lifting more weight or doing more reps than the week before. When they achieve their first chin-up, or can do push-ups on their toes, it motivates them to work harder.

I believe women are more likely to get a sense of achievement and empowerment if they focus on strength goals because they experience results weekly, providing recognition of the effort they’re putting in and reinforcing to them that any sacrifices they’re making are worth it.

Women who constantly focus on their weight and on weighing themselves don’t get frequent positive reinforcement and are often disappointed by the results, which can lead to a loss of enthusiasm and commitment to the goal. Negative results from a weight-loss perspective can also lead to sabotaging behaviours like more restrictive dieting or engaging in excessive cardio.

The (funny) thing is, when you focus on getting fitter, stronger, healthier, improving your posture, moving better, improving performance; when you get off the scales and get off restrictive diets that have you anxiously counting calories and weighing food, you actually end up feeling and looking better. And don’t get me started on how much better you’ll feel and look if you choose strength training over steady-state cardio… that’s a topic for another blog post if Shannon invites me back!

For the record, I’m not saying it’s not hard work focusing on these strength, fitness, performance goals, but it’s a hell-of-a-lot more rewarding along the way than just focusing on weight loss goals.

So, with 2013 upon us, many of you may be contemplating goals for the year ahead. Will your goals say “I love my body and want to nourish it, care for it, challenge it and improve it” or “I hate my body and want to punish it and change it”?

Choose your attitude.

If you want to read about my own battles with the scales and see photos that clearly demonstrate how different you can look at the same weight, visit my BLOG.

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