The tyranny of the scale

Just weighed myself. To my horror, I’ve gained 6 pounds! Huh? I’ve been diligent about taking my calories, having solid confidence in my data. My pants are another belt notch tighter. I can see better definition in my upper body. “How could I have slipped”, you might ask. My answer: it’s more complex.

Besides running and cycling, I’m into taekwondo. Actually, martial arts is my primary fitness activity. And that’s the main complicating factor. Recently, I’ve focused heavily on core training. My abs, arms and back have been worked hard. I was frustrated by failing to get past ten pushups. And I’m getting results. I can do more, way more pushups and crunches. But muscle weighs more (pet unit volume) than fat. Thus, significant muscle growth often gains weight faster than fat loss will lose it.

So many folks’ single health metric is weight. Really, we should add other pieces: arm, leg, chest size, distance, time, weight lifted, etc… All of these are more important measures of fitness. And, if fat loss is the goal, then BMI.

My goal is better health, to grow fitter. More pushup capacity, to be able to run with joy, and greater endurance with my running and cycling. Over the next year or so, I want to ride the Seattle to Portland, run a 5k, increase my flexibility and crank out more pushups than the twenty-year-olds in my taekwondo studio.

That will serve me better than simply focusing on weight. And my vision is long-term.

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