I stopped weighing myself about four months ago. The scales, I became convinced, were lying to me. I know what you are thinking, scales – like pictures – don’t lie. Well mine was confusing and depressing me. Here’s what happened, I went on a diet and came down from 138lbs or there abouts to 125lbs. I was ecstatic. But then the scales started to tip back up and I was back at 132lbs again.
There was something really weird going on. None of my clothes fit me. I was using safety pins to tuck in the waist bands of my skirts. My pants hung around my hips. Tops that used to hug my chest were loose. And I was looking good. Why were the scales telling me a different story?
To get to the answer, I need to backtrack a bit. Around the time that I was getting the weird scale readouts, I was exercising a lot. I had traded in cardio and pilates for – mostly – circuit training with weights. This form of resistance exercise (I had discovered Jackie Warner’s routines) promise to be fat burning and to build “lean muscle”. The more I did, the thinner I looked but the heavier I weighed. What did it mean?
The obvious answer was that I was replacing muscle with fat. So? Does that mean muscle weighs more than fat? You’ll find plenty of people who will tell you that it does – I would have done so myself. But when I stopped to think about it, it wasn’t logical. A pound is a pound (whether it’s a pound of feathers or a pound of lead, a pound of fat or…You get the idea).
So I did some reading and found that muscle is much more dense than fat, so that, by volume, it seems
to weigh more. Being more dense, a pound of muscle occupies less space than a pound of fat. Ha, so this was why my skirts were too loose!
The best thing about a pound of muscle is that it burns more fat than a pound of fat, even at rest. So by increasing my lean muscle tissue mass, I was helping my body burn more calories. I was in a virtuous circle.
I haven’t been on a scale since I worked all this out. Rather than being obsessed with what I weigh and whether I put on a pound or two from day to day, I keep an eye on where I notch my belt and reach for the tape measure.