Most people have a love-hate relationship with their scales. And while tracking your progress is understandable, even necessary, be careful not to become a scale addict, says Motheta Thabile (24).
Regularly weighing yourself can help you stay on track with your weight loss or weight maintenance goals. But we need to be tread lightly because this can lead to difficult relationships with food, all of which have an effect on fat gain or loss, says Thabile, a Bsc dietetics graduate at the University of Limpopo.
She is currently doing her community service to become a registered dietitian.
Numbers don’t reflect fat and muscle
In Cape Town, fitness loving Lorna Norolela (24) confesses, “I used to weigh myself every week when I was a starting out because I needed to see that the work I was putting in was reflected.”
She soon realised that the scale was not reflecting her progress accurately.
“I could feel the difference in my body and my clothes fitted better, but the scale did not reflect that,” she says.
Thabile adds that muscle responds to increased effort by storing more glycogen, which binds with water in your muscle cells to keep you fueled and can add one or two kilograms to your weight.
Controlling your weight can lower these risks and the same goes for being underweight. If a person’s diet does not provide enough energy to maintain a healthy body weight, they may also be lacking enough nutrients to fight off infections. As a result, someone may get sick more frequently, and common illnesses, such as a cold, can last longer than they usually would, emphasises Motheta.
“Do not skip meals! Even if you eat accordingly and exercise more, skipping meals can cause your metabolism to slow down, encouraging your body to store calories as fat rather than use them for energy,” she advises.
Your stress level is also a factor in weight gain, even if you eat according to a diet plan and exercise regularly, Thabile adds.
Try setting realistic health goals
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Cape Town fitness trainer Wandile Gugwana says personally he’s not obsessed with the scale. People who obsess about weighing themselves are usually people with both weight loss and weight gain goals to keep track of how they are progressing, he adds.
He believes that depending on your training intensity and how heavy you lift, will result in fluctuating weight and a scale doesn’t tell you that. Instead, you would think you’re getting fat but your muscle tone is growing and on the scale, it just shows that you’re bigger.
In his experience, Gugwana says that some people do not understand the effects of exercise and use a scale as an excuse. “Setting realistic goals is a great way of motivating yourself, because they are achievable and easily maintained without having to stress about them.”
The best option would be to follow a balanced nutritional diet with good, healthy natural foods, he advises. Combined with a good exercise routine, you will be sure to conquer your scale blues.