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Why you shouldn't obsess over the scale

In her new book, nutritionist and writer Kavita Devgan explains why worrying too much about your weight is unnecessary

You weight is not the biggest indicator of overall health
You weight is not the biggest indicator of overall health

‘My scale is showing a kilo more in just one day. What did I do wrong?’ asked a client in a shellshocked voice on the phone. 

‘I followed the diet exactly as planned—didn’t even eat the chocolate cake at a friend’s birthday, but even then, my weight hasn’t budged a gram this whole week. I am exactly the same,’ wailed another. 

‘I am just a kg and a half away from my target. Why am I unable to shake off this last bit?’ demanded a client who had already successfully lost 9 kg in the last three months. 

All three of them had one common grouse: their weight was not what they wanted it to be. However, I feel that the grouse is nonsensical, and none of them actually have any reason to worry. Because the fact—even if you believe otherwise—is that your weight or what you weigh on the scale is just one part of the whole weight loss story. The narrative is much deeper than ‘just’ the number blinking on the scale. 

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Please understand that the scale only calculates pounds or kgs; it does not tell you what percentage of the body contains super healthy muscle and how much is the laggard, unhealthy fat. Two women standing on the scale, both of the same height and both weighing 70 kgs, could look completely different, as contrasting as chalk and cheese. One could be a picture of health, and the other, a person who is severely out of shape. 

This could possibly be because of difference in their muscle mass to body fat percentage—the more the body fat, the more out of shape you will appear, whereas muscle tends to streamline the appearance, making you appear lean. So, the aim (the target weight to chase) for both these women would (and should) be as different as chalk and cheese too. 

Besides the muscle-fat difference, the height of an individual too makes a difference, as more length the body has, more the muscle and the bone weight is. Your weight is not the be-all and end-all criteria to run after, rather what that weight is made of is of importance and has a far greater say in how you look. 

It’s All Fluid!

 The water content of your body is an important player too. A big chunk of our body (between 50–65 per cent) is water. So, very often when we try to lose weight by the wrong means (starvation or low protein diets), all we lose is water from the body and the scale shifts quickly too. You go to the bathroom, and you’ll lose a few 100 grams, or you have two cups of tea, and the scale will go up a few 100 grams—enough to send some people into a fit of panic at the weight gain. 

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Body weight can actually change on an hourly basis, depending on activity levels, state of health and nutrient intake, so it is not a very dependable parameter of checking your health status anyway! You can, of course, check the number flashing on the scale regularly, but always take it with a pinch of salt. 

Don’t give it excessive importance. It is, after all, just a number, and just one indicator amongst 20 others of your health. Don’t stand on the scale too often. In fact, check your weight once a week (maximum twice a week) and always early in the morning, wearing the same kind of clothes, and on the same scale. An average individual will weigh about a kg or so heavier after dinner than before breakfast. So, if you must then weigh yourself at the same time every day and ideally first thing in the morning.

Extracted from The Don’t Diet Plan by Kavita Devgan with permission from Rupa Publications


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