by Mark Wolff

“In the Middle Ages, they had guillotines, stretch racks, whips and chains.  Nowadays, we have a much more effective torture device called the BATHROOM SCALE.“ – Stephen Phillips

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The following statements will probably mean a whole lot to most of you on an emotional level. When engaging with people I often hear so much about the bathroom scale, and I thought it was about time people out there actually became more knowledgeable about its use and how to change their bad bathroom habits.

“I gained a kilogram of weight this past week”, or 

“I am 500 grams heavier today then I was yesterday”, or

 ”That bloody scale it’s my best friend and my worst enemy it just depends on the day”. And finally,

“Please don’t make me stand on that scale I can’t sleep at night just thinking about it”.

It’s amazing how some are so dependent on the scale and others dread it to a severe degree. After most workouts I see the guys in the gym change room lining up to weigh themselves. Some even do it with their clothes on as they exit to head towards work.
Ladies don’t you even think of laughing, you are far worse. Many of you love to weigh yourselves at least 2 to 10 times a day. It’s like some form of addiction, the nicotine craving of this century or are you just plain mad?
I think it is about time the record was set straight because grams, kilograms and pounds are enough to drive anyone insane.

Weight is often used as a reflection of general health.

The BMI (Body Mass Index) is a quick measure to determine your general health based on your height, whether you are overweight or not. However, it is not an accurate reflection of your true health status. There are various body types, and without going into too much technical detail, every human being is unique, everyone has different musculoskeletal structures. Some people are tall and thin some medium and muscular and some short and stocky, well known as ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph classification.

Some of us are pure in our classifications, while a large percentage of us have combinations of body types. It is possible to be ectomorphic and with diet and exercise gain some more mesomorphic characteristics.

Basically, what I am trying to say is that the scale is not useful in determining an accurate picture of what your bodies status really is. Let’s be blunt about it, most of you are trying to achieve weight loss or gain, with no knowledge of your body’s composition.

For whom is a scale the most useful?

I find the scale is mostly useful for elite athletes or professionals that need to fit into a certain weight category for competition, such as powerlifting, boxing, and others. In cycling, a lot of preparation is geared around power to mass weight ratio, in other words how much power is required to propel a certain amount of weight to achieve maximum performance. You can understand that for a cyclist in the mountains, this is a key measurement.

The other use of the scale is a more scientific use of how much fluid should be taken in by an athlete during exercise, and this is usually a replenishment volume for fluid lost in the form of sweat. Some serious athletes will weigh themselves before and after exercise in various environments from hot to cold, to get a fairly accurate idea of the amount of fluid they lose and how much they need to take in to keep their hydration levels up during an event.    

Are you Wasting your time weighing-in 10 times a day?

Now I have told you where the scale is most useful, and I bet very few of you fit into those categories. You are probably wondering if you are wasting your time weighing yourself ten times a day.

In short yes you are. It really is not a realistic reflection of your true body composition, and the most basic reason is, how much percentage of that weight comprises of muscle and fat? You have no clue, and I can tell you that many times I have monitored people who are fatter at a lighter than heavier weight.

Simply put, a simple bathroom scale cannot differentiate between muscle and fat. In terms of weight and health, I was once deemed to be a health risk, due to my weight being excessive at a medium height. This was however so far from the truth, as I had a higher percentage of lean muscle mass. I was a poor “health statistic” thanks to BMI ratings, but in more than excellent health. 

Thinner does not always mean healthier.

A lot of women often say they don’t want to gain muscle. Well I have news for you ladies, this does not mean you will be muscular and bulky, the contrary, toned in shape and healthy.

A leaner muscle mass means you burn off more calories to move around as it requires more energy, you use a lot less energy to move fat, as fatty tissue is an already easily tapped energy source.  Thinner does not always mean healthier, either. Extremely thin people often have a lower-than-desired lean muscle mass percentage which can lead to health risks.

When we do not ingest enough calories, not only do we lose a percentage of our fat, we also diminish the percentage of lean mass. Starvation studies have proven that losses of lean mass and fatty tissue leave people with the same percentage of body fat after weeks of starvation. So, in truth you are wasting your time and harming your health.        

If You Want the Scale To Show You Are Losing Weight Then Focus On This!

A shocking fact is that fat takes up more than four times as much space as lean muscle mass but weighs far less. So, if you want to reduce your size, then reduce your percentage of body fat.

An obvious indicator is your waistline which is well known as a health measurement factor of visceral fat. If your pants are loosening around the waist and your weight is staying constant, then you are heading in the right direction. 

So, what do I recommend?

Straightforward and simple, invest in two simple items, a skin fold calliper to measure body fat and a tape measure to measure body part circumference. If you can afford it, an impedance meter can also be used to measure body fat quite quickly and although not the most accurate it still can form a baseline if used correctly. 

A skin fold calliper measurement is a good reflection of body fat measurement, and I would use at least a 7-point test for a more accurate measure. Also, when measuring, once every 2-3 weeks should be enough to monitor your progress, you won’t notice major difference daily. The second measuring device I mentioned earlier is the tape measure. You can use this to record your neck size, waistline, biceps, thighs calves and chest.

Always measure at the same time of the day to ensure less accuracy fluctuations. The other option is to go to professional to do these measurements for you.

Based in the Johannesburg area in South Africa? I can highly recommend contacting Zac van Heerden. He is vastly experienced and works will athletes all across the world.

Below is a table showing general body fat guidelines of course athletes drop even lower on the body fat scale.  

Health RatingMaleFemale
Healthy10% – 20%15% – 25%
Moderately High20% – 25%25% – 30%
High25% – 30%30% – 35%
Obese 30%35%

People who fall into the Moderately High category to higher have an increased risk with health problems such as diabetes, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

I hope this has set you on the right track, try quitting that adrenaline pumping scale routine for a while, which significantly affects your emotional health. Track your progress in a more beneficial way, and you will start to realise the scale is totally “overweighed”.

Want to ask me more questions? Join in on my FREE weekly webinars.

All the best,


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