2019 · fitness

weight ain’t nothing but a number

Like most women I know, weight has often been a topic of girl’s night or our inner conversations. Over the years, I’ve worried about my weight – often irrationally. If I had a dime for every time I’ve said I need/want to lose weight, I’d probably be well on my way to debt-free life. If I had a dollar for every time it was true, well… I might have $10. And yet, we still often look to a number on a scale for validation that we’re doing well and sometimes, it’s not giving us the information we need.

Fortunately, the folks at Blended Athletics know that like all data, the weight your scale is reading to you is pretty useless if you can’t mine it and understand what it means. Weight simply tells you how heavy your body is; it can’t tell you what it’s made up of. Enter the InBody Test.

An InBody Test basically gives you the opportunity to see exactly what your body is made up of, shows you what your metabolic rate is, and can help you track progress along a fitness journey – whatever your goal. I have an at-home scale that’s moderately effective at giving me a good reading but InBody is about 95% accurate so I can have a true baseline as I head into 2019.

I was so excited to meet with Dave Rafuse, the owner at Blended Athletics, and we spent a lot of time talking about the misinformation and misconceptions surrounding weight, weight loss, and fitness and, in particular, how women seem to be more likely to be negatively impacted when the scale rises – even when the clothing sizes are dropping.

One of the challenging things about using weight to track your progress on a fitness journey is that muscle weighs more than fat, so as you gain muscle… you can start to weigh more. For this reason, in the past, I’ve thrown in the towel on what I had called a “weight loss journey” because my goal didn’t make sense: I didn’t really want to lose weight, I wanted to change my body composition and look better. But when we’re comparing our progress against the wrong criteria, we can’t be successful.

That’s why I no longer consider my weight a goal. Take the photos below for example. On the left (in the black bikini), I weighed between 110-115lbs. In the photos on the right, I’m about 120-123lbs.

Perhaps ironically, I actually look my best when I weigh more than the number I used to believe was my “perfect weight”. It’s a realization I came to about a year ago when I started lifting weights and quickly began gaining muscle after years of running and gentle yoga as my only exercise. (Go figure, you need muscle!) Over the past six months, I’ve gained about 10lbs of muscle, but I lost a whopping seven inches and a whack of fat, mainly because I changed my workout routines and – perhaps shockingly – I eat way more!

If I was to simply compare weight alone, I’m “worse off” now than I was at 110 pounds. But at 120 pounds, I have a flatter tummy, defined muscles, and I’m strong as hell. See how deceiving that number is? I’ll be the first to admit that it’s still hard to reconcile what I know with the BS idea that weighing less is best.

Weighing more, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in! My body fat percentage is low, lean muscle makes up most of my body, and I’m alarmingly well-hydrated thanks to a 4L a day water intake.

InBody also gives recommendations on what you might like to do for a better score. In my case, it recommended I gain just under five pounds – 2.6lbs in fat mass and 1.8lbs in lean body mass, or muscle. Since I haven’t had a reading since January, I might need to head back to Blended Athletics soon to see where I stand now!

It also tells me I need a whopping 95 grams of protein to maintain my lean mass – just to maintain – because we should eat one gram of protein per one pound of lean body mass. And if I were to simply lie in bed watching Netflix all day, I’d need 1300 calories to keep me going. Since I exercise a lot and am seeking to GAIN muscle, my actual intake is around 2000 calories a day (when I can get all that food in!)

InBody also showed me I’m pretty evenly distributed in terms of weight and lean muscle across right and left, which is neat to see. Also: my left arm contains more lean weight than my right, even though I’m right-handed! Weird.

At the end of the day, I now know much more about my body than just how much I weigh. Understanding how much of my body is muscle, bone, and fat allows me to make more informed choices about diet and exercise, and suddenly… the number on the scale seems pretty insignificant compared to all the more important information I now have.

* Although I received a free InBody Test from Blended Athletics, I am not employed by Blended Athletics nor did I receive additional compensation for this post. I am super proud to have connected with their team and am pleased to promote their services – from the Loft to CrossFit training and so much more. Thanks to Dave et al. for their support as I embark upon my fitness journey!

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