The Measure Meant 6/06

June 2006

Your kids are home from school, report cards in hand. How do you respond? Do you quickly scan the marks and read the comments later? Do you celebrate effort, improvement or simply high marks?

In our home, we have always emphasized effort and attitude; hence we pay great attention to the comments. We have to constantly remind ourselves of what’s important, as we live in a very result-oriented world where the marks matter all too much. Leadership, citizenship and sportsmanship are also cause for kudos. An easy ‘A’ isn’t as sweet as a well-earned ‘B’. And if all our child can muster is a ‘C’, that’s okay too when the effort is totally ‘A+.’

Yes, we need to have goals that are measurable to know if we’re succeeding. However, to have only one measurement would be of limited value, wouldn’t it?

So how do you evaluate your weight loss efforts? Do you rely solely on the read-out of your bathroom scale? If so, you could be making a big mistake. There is so much more to consider.

Here are four good reasons not to focus on the weigh scale.

1) Weigh scales are rather fickle, as the results can vary through the day or week. Water retention, or loss, and hormonal changes can tip the Toledo either way and have nothing to do with fat loss.

2) Muscle weighs more than fat. So if you are actively building lean muscle mass, the weigh scale will not provide immediate cause for celebration as you lose fat and build muscle. Your body is changing favorably, as is your health, but the numerical result is slower to appear.

3) You risk giving all your power to the scale when you let it alone determine your success or failure.

4) When you focus strictly on results (the goal weight) they’re much more difficult to get. It might feel like pushing a rope – not fun or effective. Focus on the process and you will always get results.

If you really want to weigh yourself, limit it to every few weeks. And don’t let the results dictate your feelings. Make sure you always weigh yourself at the same time of day. Mornings are usually preferred. Use the same, reliable scale. Lastly, don’t wear your steel-toed work boots for the weigh-in, unless you wear them every time!

Other Meaningful Measurements

1) Have someone measure you at your arms, thighs, chest, waist and hips with a tape measure. Repeat the process every few weeks to see your progress. The waist measurement is very important, as it is a red flag for disease, including cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. At high risk are women with a waist measurement of more than 88cm. (35″) and men with a measure of more than 120 cm. (40″).

2) Body Mass Index(BMI) is the weight to height ratio. It is a well-known standard that is better than looking at weight alone, but also has limitations. It is not credible for athletic, muscular bodies, or people over age 65.

A BMI of over 30 is considered obese. If the possibility of being labeled obese does nothing for your esteem or motivation, move on. If you want to calculate your BMI, click here.

3) How do your clothes fit? This is the ultimate measurement tool. If you pull your pants on and they fall off, you know you’ve lost significantly and you’re entitled to tap dance in your underpants.

4) Pay close attention to how your body feels and functions inside and out. What is happening to your energy level and endurance? How is your mood? How do you feel about yourself and others?

Just as you accept your children with their Bs and Cs, accept yourself with your current weight and shape. Have several goals and measures, beyond the goal weight. And have faith in the process. When you do your homework, with your effort, attitude and behaviors aligned, you will get results – with or without the weigh scale.