During a recent session, the lovely Jen (let's call her Jen) told me she was almost at her target weight. As we'd been working together for months and I didn't even know she had such a goal, her session came to an abrupt halt. The target figure she gave me was so precise that I asked her; why? What was it about that specific figure she had fixed in her mind? When she couldn't answer, we had made the first of many breakthroughs towards her personal fitness and fulfillment, but crucially, I finally understood why her confidence was so fragile.
The many variables, including fluid levels and muscle mass, that alter our BMI on a daily basis are perfectly normal yet the data on the scales can have a powerful impact on our mood and how we ultimately conduct our day.
The question is, why do we want that information and what can we do with it?
As a personal trainer, I'm not in the slightest bit concerned by how much you weigh because unless my plan is to pick you up and carry you around the gym, that sort of data doesn't tell me what I need to know about you. I would never weigh another human being and I don't think that sort of treatment bodes well for a healthy trusting relationship.
Scales Are for Baggage Handlers
People are much better served when I put my energy into designing the best training methods for them, not when I encourage a negative self-image by advising people who trust me to treat themselves like cattle or cargo.
A fit, able body is a far more liberating pursuit than a mattress full of money or a random figure plucked from someone else’s BMI chart and liberty, which is a circumstance, not a science, and can't be quantified by data.
In the end, it turns out Jen just wants to feel good and be happy. She knows she'll improve her chances by getting physically healthy and cleaning up her nutrition. The problem is her chosen yard-stick was preventing her progress. Instead of relying on how she felt, she was distracted by the unstable data the scales kept presenting. Now that she's stopped treating her body that way, her teenage daughter might not have to go through years of the same self-sabotage.