A Slave to the Scale

withingsDon’t be.

That’s me telling myself that. I just stepped on the bathroom scale and while I anticipated a drop of two pounds, I saw instead a gain of more than three.

I couldn’t help feel bad initially, but I quickly ran through this list of achievements:

1) I’m comfortably wearing size 33×34 jeans, which is one size better than when I wrote this: “When your waist is equal to or less than your inseam.”.

3) I enjoyed a huge fajita last night that was made mostly of veggies.  And damn it was satisfying to eat, but it is probably sitting like a 2-pound rock in my gut right now.

4) I have lost 30 lbs. since last October. *mic drop*

The achievements helped me move forward. It’s not the first time I have had an apparent set back.

It seems unnatural. I’m burning more calories than I consume. No doubt. Seriously. None. Still, I’m gaining weight. But I’m also losing bulk around my waist, thighs and chest (note the smaller jeans referenced earlier). So the evidence implies I’m losing fat and building muscle.

Myth: Muscle weighs more than fat
Muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue. While one pound of muscle weighs the same as one pound of fat (as does a pound of feathers and a pound of gold – a pound is a pound, people!) the space they take up in the body is significantly different. One pound of fat has a much larger volume than one pound of muscle.  I read somewhere you should picture a grapefruit sitting next to a tangerine. The grapefruit is fat the tangerine is muscle.

What do the statistics say?
Coming from a data-driven industry, I always tackle projects with measureable goals or KPIs (key performance indicators). The most obvious KPI has been weight. Up until recently, I was losing about six pounds a month on average. The first month was an eight pound loss. The past month was statistically a big zero. So my average has now dropped to 5.1 pounds per month. But as time goes on this statistic will become less important. Which begs the question how am I going to measure progress?

I’m researching options. I’m not sure I want to buy calipers to start measuring the folds of my skin yet. I see lots of folks take pictures to compare images of their body over time, though that seems a little “eewww” to me … so not yet. I searched on Amazon and found body-fat monitors.  I may end up getting one since that seems the least awkward for me and will provide another easily documented KPI. I said “another,” not “the only.”

The scale is staying
The scale isn’t going away for me. In fact I recently purchased a Wi-Fi-enabled scale that syncs with my FitBit (see the Withings Wireless Scale in the picture at the top of the post). My plan is to move away from the “every two-week weight check” and start taking daily checks and maybe even intraday weigh-ins. I hope to spot trends and also eliminate the stress build up that currently surrounds “weigh-in day.”

I’ll leave you with some fun facts about my experience in transforming my body.

  • Since purchasing a FitBit on December 14, 2015, I have logged more than one million steps. (Note: I do not wear it on the weekends or in the evenings.)
  • I still enjoy adult beverages. While I’ve totally cut out alcohol in past efforts (read: “A dry 2014? Worst New Year’s resolution timing ever”) I did not this time. Hey, it gives me a lever to pull if I get totally blocked moving forward, right?
  • 121 of the past 178 days (~68%) I’ve performed aerobic exercise of 30 minutes for a total of 56.9 hours of sweating.lifts2
  • 78 of the past 178 days (~44%) I’ve completed an average of 37 minutes of weight training (began lifting in mid-December). That’s 48. 4 hours of lifting. BTW, I work a different group of muscles each day for 5 days each week (see log to the right).
  • I am not starving myself. I have eaten steak 19 times, spaghetti 15 times, and chicken 20 times since I started keeping track 137 days ago (This is not the full list of meals, FYI). It is all home-prepared except for six times eating restaurant food.

My parents recently asked me “what kind of diet am I on?” I told them, honestly, it’s really not a diet, but a life style. Yes, I want to lose weight. Yes, that’s a goal or a KPI. But I’m eating when and what and how much I want (mostly). The emphasis this time for me has been on kicking up my activity level. Having a routine – a schedule – has been really important to me for many reasons even beyond health and fitness.

“THE SCHEDULE” is everything, I say to myself. That gets me out of bed in the morning. That gets me out the door for my lunch-time walk. That gets me to the gym even after a mind-numbing day at work. “THE SCHEDULE” gets me to push myself a little more every day. And it pays off. Maybe not on the scale all the time, but in other ways.

This seems like a nice place to once again share my motto: “I’m nowhere near where I need to be, but I’m closer than I was before.” #NeverGiveUp

I write about more than fitness:

Follow me on Twitter @AllanTowns.

Who am I? My “About” page needs updating, but it has some good information.

One thought on “A Slave to the Scale

  1. Pingback: Lifting weights with my son | A little bit about a lot of stuff

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