To top
22 May

It’s time to stop looking at the scales!

There’s a glaring misconception amongst women about what it means to lose weight and recent encounter with a woman at a soiree made me realize that weight loss and fitness are still abstract concepts for many in the country.

I met this acquaintance after several months so she was surprised to see that I looked fitter than I did the last time we met. “Have you lost weight?” she asked me, to which I replied thoughtfully, “I have.” “How much,” she wanted to know. Here is where I stumbled because on the weighing machine, my weight appears to be a kg more than it used to be. “I’ve made a lot of muscle since, but I’ve gained a kilo actually,” I chuckled. She persisted in knowing the exact amount of weight I had lost and when she couldn’t understand my rant about muscle mass and fat percentages, I simply concluded the conversation by telling her the difference in my measurements since the last time she saw me.

That’s where women keep getting it wrong, I feel. We are still obsessing over how much we weigh and proceed to feel good about our bodies based on what we see on the weighing machine. And the weighing machine cannot tell you how much of your weight is actually healthy and how much of it isn’t.

Basically, our bodies carry a lot of things: organs, bones, water, fat and muscle, for instance. So when one stands on the weighing machine, they see an accumulative score of all these things. That isn’t really helpful because your muscle mass needs to be higher than the percentage of fat in your body for you to look lean and a weighing machine can’t tell you that.

Why is it important to have a higher muscle mass than fat percentage? Aside from the obvious importance of keeping your body healthy so that it operates at optimum level, having muscle means being in shape. Since fat and muscle have differing densities, it affects the way your body looks. For instance, one kg of muscle and one kg of fat look drastically different from each other: the fat will be spread out while the muscle will take up less space.

 

1 kg fat vs 1 kg muscle.

 

When people start working out and building muscle, they often complain that their weight isn’t going down on the scales. In fact, they see that sometimes it starts to go up. But when they take their measurements, they discover that they’ve actually slimmed down despite looking heavier on the weighing machine. That’s because they’ve made muscle and muscles take up lesser space in your body despite weighing the same as fat.

So there you have it. What you weigh becomes irrelevant then which is why women need to stop trying to lose “10 lbs in one week,” or say that their goal is to “lose 20 lbs” because weight is not the best indicator of what your body should look and feel like. You could lose 10 lbs in one week by starving yourself but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost weight. Your body is going to look the same even if your weight appears lesser on the weighing machine.

Measure your body regularly with a measuring tape if you’re trying to lose weight and get your fat percentage checked out at a local gym. The healthy range of fat percentage of the body is anywhere between 16 percent to 24. And that’s the way to know if your body is getting thinner or not!

 

Manal Faheem Khan

The author is Contributing Editor at Something Haute who has studied film and journalism from SZABIST. Will be found at the gym if not in the office.