The Scale Says What?!

I know the number on the scale is not just a tender spot with women. I am sure of this because I share an office with men that are concerned about their figures. I believe that the guys (even the interns that use the training office a lot) are on the scale in the back room wayyy more than I am.

That being sad, we all, men and women, are conscious of the number on the scale. We like it to be at a certain number and if it fluctuates a little bit, eh, so what. But when that number reads something we haven’t seen in quite some time…watch out, emotional/mad/freaked out/crazy person coming your way.

I can tell you that the scale is not everything, and I know you won’t listen to me but I will tell you anyway.

Your weight doesn’t really tell me tons of information. It doesn’t tell me what you eat during your day. It doesn’t tell me how much you exercise. It doesn’t tell me what type of exercise you do. It’s not considered a food or exercise log. It can give me ideas on what you could possibly be doing in your daily life but I can’t really tell for sure based on that number.

So why am I telling you this? Because, as a trainer, I am more concerned with other aspects of your life and that usually will bring the weight down on its own.

On the other hand, when you already have a healthy lifestyle and you have been looking towards losing weight for some time, and yet, you have not lost weight or maybe you have gained weight, something needs to be looked at.

I am also telling this to you because I have been in your shoes. I know that there is a golden number that you weighed before or maybe a certain number you’d like to get to just to say you’ve been there. Oh yes, that YOU have been there.  Yes, there, that beautiful, happy, thin-place that will make you feel so good because YOU are that number. And because I’ve been in your shoes, I have also had panic attacks when I’ve stepped on that cold, hard surface to see what number I was that day. I can tell you that I have been consistently the same weight for the last 6 years except for minor fluctuations.

I can also tell you that my golden weight was when I got my wisdom teeth out and I weighed 122 pounds and I thought those were beautiful numbers to be seen. I can tell you that during my time with the MSU rowing team I couldn’t keep weight on and dropped to 124 pounds and my body could not give anymore of what the coaches, nor I, asked of it.

But without those exceptions I have always been 129-132 pounds. So you can imagine my despair and utter bewilderment when I stepped on the scale recently and saw a whooping 137.4, up from 131.0 days earlier. What the %@$^!aim-at-scale

I can honestly say I haven’t seen that number. Ever. I’ve never been this ‘heavy’. And no, I’m not asking for a pity party or for you to tell me I’m thin or something. I lead a very healthy life and again, have maintained my weight for years and years. So 6.4 pounds is quite a drastic jump. I completely understand that other people fluctuate that much in a day sometimes. But not me. I’m asking for you to look into this from my perspective and see how it may help you.

Because hadn’t I just weighed myself 5 days previous?How in the world did I gain that much weight? Is that even possible? What did I EAT??! When is my monthly gift coming? What changes have I made? What have I been DOING?

These were all questions running through my head, and all of them were logical because they can give you some extra LBS. As I sat in panic at my desk, and after a lot of swear words, I started thinking of what was going on.

I knew my pants had been getting a smidge tighter in the thighs and rear. I knew my bras bands were starting to dig into me and literally cut me. Could this all be a sign? Was I really just getting bigger?

As I held a silent/not-so-silent freak out for the next day I began telling people of my recent weight gain. And I was very surprised to hear the responses.

“No, that’s not true.”

“It’s probably water weight.”

“You’re probably just going to start your monthly cycle.”

And these were all very friendly answers that were not comforting at any level.

“That’s not true”? Well, my body doesn’t tell the scale to read out some RANDOM number. It’s there because that’s what I WEIGH.

“Water weight”? Really? I must’ve had a ton of sodium, be retaining water like a 9-month pregnant woman, and drank 150 ounces of h20 for the last 3 days straight.

And my “monthly cycle”? Yeah, that gains some weight for sure (don’t worry, ladies, I got your backs) but surely not 6.4 pounds, which is what I gained.

When I went back and thought about what I had been doing differently, I realized I was on the last week of a 4-Jess TGUweek training program that had an emphasis on low reps, high weights. I had been very consistent in my workouts and did progress in lifts. I, no doubt, was stronger than I was 4 weeks earlier. With that comes bigger muscles, and in my case, a bigger rear end and lats.

I hadn’t really been doing anything different with my diet so I wasn’t necessarily losing fat during this process.

When I got back on the scale to do my body composition and compare it to the one I had taken just 3 weeks earlier, I was scared. What if my body fat was up really high? What if I lost a lot of muscle mass? Well, here we go.

OH! Well, now! It seems to be I gained 0.4 pounds of fat…okay,whatever, and gained 6.0 pounds of muscle  mass. Wait, what. Six pounds of fat-free mass?

My emotions literally went from “Chunky McChunk” to “HELL YES” in an instant. I was so proud of myself for packing on some muscle. It has always been a struggle for me to get ‘bigger’. I know most females do not want that, they want the ‘lean, toned’ look. Well yeah, that’s what I want too and in order to have that you have to have you muscles large enough to be seen. So therefore, you have to lift heavy weight!

Jess front squat

After my freakout, followed by my relieved state, I took a look back at what had happened. Like any normal person, I was scared when I saw just those numbers, and I was scared when my clothes were getting tighter. I didn’t look at the big picture; I went right to assumptions.

Even though a specific number may be what you want to see, you have to understand what it IS showing. There are why’s and how’s for weight gain; it’s not always mysterious, like we imagine, or hope to imagine. Look into your body composition, training structure, eating habits, and see where you find yourself excelling and where you need to work on in order to reach the goals you have set for yourself.

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