What do these guys have in common?
- Frank Gore
- Arian Foster
- Marshawn Lynch
Well, there are a couple of obvious similarities. All 3 men are elite NFL running backs. They’ve all played in multiple Pro Bowls. Some of them have even won or played in Super Bowls. Each of them have run for multiple 1,000 yard seasons too.
Bottom line: These guys are studs on the field.
But what you didn’t know they all have in common is that they are all OBESE.
How can an NFL running back who is in peak physical condition be obese?
Each one of these guys’ BMI is above 30, technically making them obese. Do you know how infuriating that is? BMI still exists. People still refer to BMI. Don’t even get me started…
I wanted to preface this article with that little tidbit of info. Extreme example? Yes, but it truly helps illustrate the point I’m trying to make.
The greatest piece of fitness advice I can give anyone is this:
Look deeper than the number (weight) on the scale.
Weight is just a number, and a lot of the times, it can be misleading. In the example used above, weight was used to determine those guys as “obese” with the Body Mass Index (BMI) formula that is used heavily in consensus health reports and fitness institutions across the world. In this case, weight and height are the two driving factors in the equation.
The issue? There is no mention of body composition measurements such as muscle or body fat. If things like that were considered, there would be no way to slap the “obese” label on them.
I’ve heard fitness pros preach, “Throw away the scale,” but I’m not ready to get that drastic. Keep it, you paid for it already, just don’t use often – if ever.
Here are some tips on how you can improve your health progress simply by acknowledging that there is more to your body than just bodyweight.
Weigh Yourself Less
As I mentioned before, you can throw out your scale if you’re an extreme type of person. Or, you can just use self-discipline and allow yourself to weigh-in once a month. Put it in a bathroom cabinet so it’s not out and readily available to use.
Human weight fluctuates too often with drastic differences. You don’t need to start your day stressing about how you gained 3 pounds overnight. Chances are, you didn’t gain real weight at all. Conversely, I’d recommend you don’t celebrate your 3-pound overnight weight loss either. Neither are accurate.
Use the Eye Test
The best way to track your fitness progress is to use mirrors and friends. Ask your significant other or a close friend how you look, or check yourself out in the mirror. Seriously, there is nothing wrong with a little flex in the mirror. You put in the hard work. You deserve to see the results.
Before, during and after pictures are also effective ways to see changes. The camera doesn’t lie. Unless you add 3 Instagram filters, adjust the brightness and do a quick crop job. In that case, yes, the camera is kind of lying.
Plateaus for Plato’s
You finally broke through that plateau and achieved a goal – congrats! Bad news, now your clothes don’t fit. This is one of the most surefire ways to track your progress. When your clothes start to fit differently you know your body is truly changing. Now you’ve found yourself accumulating baggy jeans and ill-fitting shirts in a laundry basket labeled “Plato’s Closet.”
What a bittersweet experience. Three things are about to happen:
- You will take your clothes to Plato’s Closet and get absolutely hammered on the pricing. You’ll give them close to $1,000 worth of attire and receive a $53.76 offer because, “these clothes are actually out of season, sorry.”
- You take the money… *fist-pump* (NOT!), then go spend it (and so much more) on your new, form-fitting attire!
- Repeat 3-6 months later. This time, donate to Goodwill.
Here’s a shameless 1 & Only Fitness plug. Another great way to track your progress is to test your actual body composition beyond bodyweight. We have a medical-grade device called the InBody 570, which measures complete body composition at 98% accuracy.
The InBody, as some of you know, is a truly amazing machine. It uses bioelectrical impedance to scan your body and relay readings of skeletal muscle mass, body fat mass, body fat percent, visceral fat and more.
Of course, it tracks bodyweight too, but now you can actually see what your bodyweight is made up of. You can allocate certain amounts of weight to muscle, fat, water, bones, etc. It’s all laid out on a report that is easy to read and comprehend.
Still, I would recommend you only do this once every month at the very most. I typically have my clients re-test every 8 weeks.
Here is a real-life example on how the InBody is far superior to the typical bathroom scale. Client X did her first InBody and weighed 135lbs. She had 19% body fat and 66lbs of muscle. 12 weeks later, on the re-test, she weighed 138lbs, but only had 16% body fat and 70lbs of muscle.
Those are awesome results, she gained muscle and lost fat. That’s the name of the game!
If Client X would have been weighing herself every morning in the bathroom, she would have gotten discouraged with the lack of weight loss. In fact, she gained weight. I would have been fired as a trainer. But, she trusted the process and the InBody results show the true story of the amazing changes that happened to the body composition.
Like I said before, there’s no need to throw away your scale. Just use it sparingly. You can lay the groundwork for some really healthy habits by making your weigh-ins worthwhile. Make yourself work hard for an extended period of time before you check on the results. You can’t get out of shape, or in shape, overnight. Everything is a process.
Disclaimer: This is intended for general health enthusiasts. If you’re an athlete that requires weigh-ins for competition, you live by a different set of rules. Boxers, wrestlers, bodybuilders, etc. can disregard!