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September 22, 2016

Stay Off the Scale

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According to a study done in 2015, roughly 50% of adult Americans currently exercise specifically for weight loss, and 80% of those surveyed say they have experienced weight gain while beginning an exercise regimen rather than weight loss. The most popular myths behind this weight gain are, “I am getting too big and bulky and putting on too much muscle”, and, “my body is so screwed up that even working out makes me fat”. But in reality, there are tons of factors that can result in weight gain while starting an exercise program. None of which are due to these popular myths.

There are 3 major factors that can make an individual’s weight flux after starting an exercise program.

The first, is the individual’s hydration levels. Water can alter an individual’s weight by as much as 10 pounds. This not only applies to weight gain, but to weight loss as well.

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The second factor is the workouts themselves.  "A person's scale mass is a combination of muscle, fat, bone, the brain and neural tract, connective tissue, blood, lymph, intestinal gas, urine, and the air that we carry in our lungs. Immediately after a workout routine, the percentage of mass in each of these categories can shift as much as 15 percent."

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The third factor is compensatory eating. This usually takes the form of sugary “recovery” drinks and things marketed as “healthy” post-workout snacks. We’re a nation of consumers, and we’re all playing a role. Lots of people just starting with exercise buy special workout clothes and stock up on sugary sports drinks and protein bars because we’ve been programmed to associate these props with exercise. So, many of us sweat for an hour, and then eat back every ounce of energy we just worked off in an effort to “recover.” 

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So setting these reasons behind weight gain and weight loss aside, we get to the real problem. The scale itself. The scale is a problem because all in all, your weight says nothing about your fitness level or body composition. No, muscle does not weigh more than fat, but it IS more dense. Therefore, by building muscle mass and decreasing your body fat through exercise, the scale may increase, decrease, or stay the same without us seeing the actual effects the exercise is having on our bodies and overall levels of fitness and health.

In the end, the fitness world is filled to the brim with calorie counters and scale slaves who are too focused on an arbitrary number rather than the real goal in fitness; to feel better and live healthier.

Cody Gergen
Momentum Sport Fitness