Regular weigh-ins are back in my toolbox

December 14, 2009

To weigh or not to weigh? Tis the question indeed

I used to think that a scale was a pretty evil piece of technology because people would obsess over a number instead of enjoy the experience or focus on the changes they were making in their lifestyle habits, but I have since become aware of other factors which lead me to reconsider my stance.

 

Sure this can happen, but its our job as coaches to help our clients see that a number isn’t everything. As I have learned slowly but surely, a little interpersonal skill does wonders!

Anyways here’s why my mind has changed:

1) I need objective feedback – A number tells me if a client is making progress in fat loss or muscle gain. If I’m not re-assessing, how do I know if both my program and client are on the right track? As you probably guessed, I can’t know under those circumstances; I’m just guessing. ‘Nuff said.

2) I need objective feedback OFTEN – Yes this warrants its own point. This point is based on accountability. If I weigh my client once a month, technically they can haphazardly follow my advice for the first 3 weeks then put some effort on the last week or weekend (or just fast on that last weekend) since they know weigh-in day is coming. Even if scale weight is down in this case, I haven’t done anything to ensure long term fat loss success. What this point comes down to is fighting human nature, which is such a large part of any body composition transformation goal.

3) It tells me what adjustments to make AND the magnitude of these adjustments – If the client is paying me to help him or her lose fat, is the scale going up or down since the last measurement? How much has it gone up or down?

Its not enough to know whether a client is progressing or regressing relative to their training goals, I also want to know how much they are regressing or progressing. For example, a high school athlete is trying to gain 20 pounds of muscle over an off-season, and one week I find they put on 5 pounds. Physiologically you can’t build muscle that fast, so we’re getting some added fat gain. At 5 total pounds, this would be more fat gain than I’d be happy with, especially since I don’t want this type of weight gain to become a habit. So even though the scale is moving in the desired direction with this individual, there are still adjustments that need to be made. If I’m not weighing this individual (or using some other body comp assessment), then chances are I notice they look a little bigger and think I am doing a wonderful job training him or her — the devils in the details.

Another example is a client who wants to lose fat. There’s a difference in the recommendation I would make if he or she gained 1 pound in a week versus 5 pounds.

Bottom line is that I have learned that a scale can be useful in a training program simply because I have changed my thinking about it as a tool.  I still don’t want my clients becoming fixated on a certain number, but their are other benefits to regular weigh-ins which I believe play a larger role in my system for delivering results.

Anyways enjoy your Monday, and I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday parties going on right now! Definitely a fun time of year!!

CB

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