Why does that number matter to you?

Last week I was doing a session with one of my clients and the subject of her measurements came up, which is something I do with my body composition clients fairly regularly to keep them on the right path.  By the way, fairly regularly means every 4-6 weeks, not every week like some people would think.  She also basically said she was concerned about her scale weight, because it hadn’t gone down a lot.  When I asked her “does it matter?” she said yes.  Then, when I asked “why?” she couldn’t come up with anything.  This is a woman who can deadlift over her own bodyweight, sprint, do pull-ups and push ups without batting an eyelash, generally is very strong and healthy, plus can do it all without the back pain she came to me in the first place about.  The fact she couldn’t even explain it really made me think about the reasons she cared in the first place.

One thing I’m constantly trying to do with my practice is really make people think about the reasons that things happen to their bodies, but also the reasons behind why they are there in the first place.  When I’m doing an initial session with someone and taking girth and calliper numbers (if that is something they want to change as a goal) they often ask if I’m going to weigh them.  The truth is, I really don’t care what you weigh and neither should you.  If you do, then there is something else going on that we need to explore.

None of us walk around with our weight tattooed on our foreheads, and even if we did it would change hourly throughout the day.  To most people, however losing weight means scale weight, which is really kind of a dumb way to look at changing your body anyway.  One of my main goals with clients is to actually add muscle tissue to them (and the fear of that requires a whole other article) while also reducing the bodyfat on top of it in the hopes that they will not only be able to do more with their tension producing tissue (ie lift stuff, run, whatever they want to do) but also look better doing it – if that is their goal.  All scale weight really means when it comes down to it is how much gravity is pushing down on the tissue that you already have.  By trying to get lighter, you are more commonly going to actually reduce muscle tissue along with fat, and be actually worse off than before, even though you might think because of some arbitrary number that you are better off.

One of my clients who is a fitness competitor was training for her second show and it was a year since her first show and she looked amazing.  She had also gained ten pounds from what she had competed on stage at last time weight wise.  This actually upset her until I pointed out that she looked better and placed higher, while also having the same bodyfat level.  She could also lift more and do more without hurting herself.  So why did that silly scale number matter?

Here’s my suspicion, and you can jump all over me if you like but I’ll say it anyway.  While they are growing up, people hear about some ideal “number” that they should be, and either have a bad experience with a person who made them feel terrible because they weren’t at that number or had a good experience while they were at that number and think that the good experience was a result of their weight, not because they might be a good person or deserve something good.  Our society conditions us to think that one thing is “good” while another is “bad” which is typically garbage marketing anyway.  We have conditions in our brain that tell us that we are not where we should be, and more often than not those are imposed by somebody other than ourselves.  An abusive spouse, a really nasty co-worker, a friend who is jealous of something can all be examples of this.  When people come to see me I try to get them to focus on what matters, which is what you can do, not what you look like.  It’s how you live your life for yourself, not for anybody else.  Like I said, if you tell people you weigh a certain amount and it changes the way people think about you – then those people suck.  In my opinion.

So the next time you want a good experience, come and see me for a session and ask me how much you weigh.  My answer will simply be: “I don’t fucking care.  Let’s go change your body for the better.”  And then we will go and have some fun.  Sound good?

One comment

  1. Marianne

    Hi David,
    You are so right. The article made me laugh. I will try not to focus so much on the scale even though I know I have to get that number down as well while I transition.
    Entertaining read.


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