Oh, the dreaded scale. The most “enlightened” of us don’t use it, or own one, or have a need for one. It’s number doesn’t tell the complete story of who we are, what we look like, how we feel, or our health. So, it’s useless, right?

WRONG. The scale can be a helpful tool in achieving one’s goals, charting progress, and keeping people accountable for their actions. The scale can, and should, be your friend. You should have one. You should use it, and you should react to what the numbers say.

Yes, I said it. You SHOULD own a scale. Now I know this is a controversial statement, and it flies in the face of what you’ve been told, but let’s explore things in depth before passing judgement (or condemning me to a fiery death). First, we need to put the scale in it’s place (and I don’t mean the trash).

What does a scale tell us? Nothing really.  It simply gives a number. It’s not a measure of one’s worth, or even close to a complete picture of one’s health. Just a number. It’s how we choose to interpret that number, and what that interpretation means for our goals, which determines it usefulness to us. In short, the scale alone isn’t enough in the long run.

As a trainer, I see people jumping on the gym’s scale constantly (You might not own one, but funny how everyone still finds access to one). Truthfully, it a completely waisted effort for most people. So what if the weight is going up, or down, or staying the same… What’s that mean? Absolutely nothing, because you can’t make any conclusions based on the one number. More data/numbers are needed.

Example: Your scale weight is going down (Good, right?), but what if your Squat, Dead lift, and Press working weights are going down as well? What if your appetite is decreasing too? That doesn’t sound good at all, does it? Might mean you’re getting/are sick… or worse.

Let’s put in a goal and explore some more: So you want to lose fat, and gain strength, but not necessarily gain mass. Ok, so you’re keeping track of your training, and your strength is going up (1Rep Max, working weights, etc…), but the scale says you’re going up in weight too.  Not all good, but not all bad. What’s the deal? Without getting too detailed (Mainly because this is a CONPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL scenario), but it sounds like training is kinda on point (you’re getting stronger), but something else is off. Maybe it’s nutrition (too many calories), maybe it’s a stress/lack of sleep deal, maybe it’s the fact that you’re “Paleo plus dairy”, or having “a beer” on the weekend. LOTS OF POSSIBLE VARIABLES, and the scale doesn’t address any of them.

It’s not fair to give the scale so much power, and influence. If anything, it creates more questions than answers. Maybe you need a food log, and to chart sleep too. Perhaps armed with all that data, you can begin to make changes and effectively assess your progress. However,  based on the scale alone, you will never be able to make any conclusions or correlations. So, again, why have one? Why use it?

Truthfully, if you’re not going to use it correctly, then you shouldn’t have one. The number fluctuations, or lack there of, will do nothing, but upset you. However, if you’ve got a plan, and you’re working toward a specific goal, then it’s data can be very beneficial in understanding yourself, your actions, and what steps need to be taken in order to achieve one’s goals.