I believe you can learn lessons from anything in life. Now, I’m not a huge basketball fan but there is a great lesson here that we can apply to our fitness and health.
Rasheed Wallace was one of the most entertaining basketball players of the modern era, and he coined the phrase, “ball don’t lie.” If a foul was called that the defensive player didn’t believe was a foul — and the offensive player missed his free throw — ‘Sheed would yell, “Ball don’t lie!” This meant that the ball somehow refused to go in the hoop in order to appease the basketball gods, righting the wrong of the referee’s bad call. A little basketball karma.
Why am I telling you this? Because there are a lot of indicators of your health and fitness that you should pay attention to, but there’s one that you definitely shouldn’t obsess over. That would be your scale.
Sometimes, the scale flat-out lies.
It simply tells you how much your total body mass has fluctuated since the last time you stepped on the scale. For most people, a fluctuation of a couple pounds in either direction is normal from day to day.
That kind of roller coaster ride won’t make you healthier. It’ll just drive you nuts (you know what I’m talking about here). Unless it’s a really fancy scale, it doesn’t tell you anything about your body composition (i.e. how much of your weight is lean mass vs. fat mass). It doesn’t tell you your resting heart rate or blood pressure, your stress or hydration levels, or how well you slept last night. It doesn’t tell you your cholesterol, much less how much of your cholesterol is HDL (good) vs. LDL (bad).
The truth is, the scale might be the single least informative indicator of the current state of your health and fitness, yet it’s the one indicator that too many people obsess over.
It’s mostly media, marketing, and $$ that use the scale to sell us products, fad diets, exercise equipment etc. Think about it– “Lose 20 pounds in a month for $20” — The ad doesn’t promote getting healthy for $20 a month.
In fact, people I’ve encountered who’ve succeeded in losing the most weight all seem to have one thing in common: They rarely step on the scale.
I usually recommend weighing yourself once a month — at the same time of day — and making the reading multidimensional by also measuring your waist and hips, and/or taking progress photos. If you have access to a reliable body fat scanner, that could add another dimension that would be helpful.
Here is a great link to an easy body fat estimator that only requires a couple measurements https://www.calculatorpro.com/calculator/us-navy-body-fat-calculator/
The point is, don’t let one metric — much less the worst one — govern your health and fitness decisions or determine your mood and motivation.
Pay more attention to:
- how your clothes fit
- your energy levels
- how many hours you slept last night
- how much water you’ve been drinking
- how motivated you are to exercise today. (If you’ve been training consistently, a lack of desire to exercise today could be an indication that your body needs a recovery day.)
Don’t let a one-dimensional snapshot determine whether you’re succeeding or failing, or how you feel about your progress. Don’t let the scale lie to you. There are much better indicators that will help inform your decisions and make the health and fitness gods — and you — much happier.
Keep suiting up, showing up, and getting after it and all the pieces will align for you.