Recently Carleton University, located here in Ontario Canada, removed the scale inside its campus gym. The reason for the scales removal? So students don’t stress about their weight. As a society, what is it about our weight that we fear so much?
Bruce Marshall, Manager of Health and Wellness at Carleton University told a local newspaper,
“We don’t believe being fixated on weight has any positive affect on your health and well-being. The body is an amazing machine and even when we are dieting and training it will often find a homeostasis at a certain weight.”
A freshman at the University, Samar El Faki, supported the decision stating,
“Scales are very triggering. I think people [who disagree with taking it out] are being insensitive because they simply don’t understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness.”
Personally I agree with the rational of the Health and Wellness Manager, that most people can be way too fixated on the numbers on the scale. However the decision to totally remove the scale from the gym is overkill and truly solving the issue. Why does weight matter so much when in relation to being happy with our bodies?
The Scale Is Only A Tool
The gym is full of tools; no I’m not talking about people flexing in the mirrors between sets for selfies, I’m talking about the weights, the machines, the equipment and, of course, the scales. The scales is a very simple tool, it presents us with our overall bodyweight and nothing else. A scale can’t tell you the difference ratios between your muscle, fat, bodily fluids, bones, and all the other measurements that add up to that simple number which can be oh so triggering.
Weight is a factor for sports that involve weight classes (Wrestling, Boxing, Bodybuilding etc). Usually these classes are made for fairness as two competitors being 20 pounds apart can cause a huge disadvantage and can be potentially dangerous. Imagine Floyd Mayweather facing off against a young Mike Tyson, not exactly fair or safe! But athletes don’t rely on the number on the scale as a way to tell us if we are “in shape”. That would be ridiculous, the scale is not an all-in-one wonder tool when it comes to our health.
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Take a look inside most homes in North America and you’ll have a hard time not finding a scale. Most people do not need to own a scale or check there weight daily. It’s been awhile but I’m pretty sure office jobs don’t have weight classes.
Why do people rely on weight as an overall indicator of health? Weight is easy to measure. If the number goes up or down too quickly, that’s bad, if the number goes down then that’s good. Right? Well not always.
Weight loss has become a marketing cliche in the health industry. Every trainer, gym, or weight loss plan will guarantee you they will help you shed those pounds because it’s a simple and easy way to get you through the door. Here’s a weight loss plan for you, take a 20 min walk daily, drink more water and lower your sugar intake. I take payments via Paypal by the way.
Weight can also be a great way to brag. For most people, weight can make the difference between being happy or miserable. A lot us believe that we should be a certain weight because we compare ourselves to those around us. You need to realize that no two people are the same and find what feels best for yourself. If your weight defines your happiness than let me help you out.
Gym Scales, A Small Piece Of A Larger Picture
Bodybuilders and most athletes know that they can roughly weight the same but look completely different. I have been the same weight for months but look completely different that I did 4 months ago. I was also that same weight in 2011 while preparing for another competition and I wasn’t nearly as muscular as I am now. This is why weight can only tell us so much and, really, it isn’t much. My weight lets me know what changes I need to make in order to be placed into the best weight class for me.
A much better indicator of progression are pictures, like the one I’ve included above this section; all taken at roughly 190lbs. It is very easy to recognize the changes our body has made by observing progress pics yet how many of us have photos to compare progress with at all? Many people fear taking photos of themselves or even checking themselves out in the mirror, but you can’t solve a health issues if you just run from or ignore it. That’s kind of like making a gym scale the bad guy and banishing it from our safe spaces.
Another way to track progress is checking yourself out in the mirror; a keystone in bodybuilding. It’s not something that has to be done everyday, just once a week. Bodybuilders don’t flex in the mirror for just vanity reasons, we appreciate our bodies like pieces of art which we are molding through exercise and proper diet. If a body part needs more or less, we adjust our workouts to match our overall vision; much like an artist with a brush or sculptor with clay.
Lastly, we can gain a lot of information from the way our clothes fit (or don’t) and examining any changes. For example, the sleeves on many of my old shirts are a lot tighter than a couple years ago but the waist is much looser. This tells me that my upper body has grown but my waist has slimmed down. Don’t even get me started on the experience of finding a pair of pants to fit into; if you don’t skip leg day than you probably already know that feeling.
Being Proactive With Our Bodies
Along with weight, progress pictures, measurements and the occasional glance in the mirror, these are all tools that can be used together. All of these methods help us get a much better idea of how our bodies are changing; if we want to do something about it we have a much better idea of what’s working and what’s not.
As amazing as the human body can be at finding “homeostasis at a certain weight”, if you’re not in shape or holding onto too much fat, your health will suffer. Along with routine checkups from a trusted physician, it is important to be proactive with our own bodies by tracking changes. We are ultimately responsible to confront any issues we may have in our lives before they get out of control. There is no one size fits all formula. Not every regular gym goer is the pinnacle of health, even if they look like Hercules.
If the number on the scale is causing enough anguish to be banished from a local university’s gym, we just running from the massive health crisis that’s happening now in North America. So let’s do something about it. I know you’re reasonable person who is more interested in burning fat than gym scales. If you’re someone who wants to be proactive with how you look and feel, let’s talk. I would love to hear from you.