One thing that many people struggle with is the often inevitable weight gain associated with lifting weights and building muscle. I often tell people that the scale offers a useless number, yet I still catch myself thinking negatively on occasion.
When I began lifting weights, I weighed 65kg (143lbs). A couple of years earlier, at the same height I am now (5’8″), I weighed just 57kg (125lbs). When I started my weight training journey, I felt too big in my skin and my goal weight was 60kg. I always kept the weight of 70kg (154lbs) in my head as a ‘scary’ number – I knew that if I ever hit that number, I would have ‘let myself go’.
As of this morning, I weigh 72kg (159lbs). This is down from the 75kg figure I hit in December. That’s a lot of meat!
Over the years, I’ve learnt that my weight doesn’t really tell me anything about my progress. Sure, in the beginning it can be helpful to know whether you’re gaining or losing too much weight too quickly, but it soon becomes more trouble than it’s worth.
On the morning I weighed in at 75kg, I told Rob. His response was to strive for 80! Despite my weight gain over the past couple of years, I was still horrified to think of weighing 80kg (176lbs).
Many of the guys I work with barely hit 80kg on the scale, and three of them are 75kg or less. I could easily be embarrassed that I weigh the same as grown men, but instead I choose to feel proud. I have worked damn hard for my muscle and they are the ones that should feel embarrassed for being overshadowed by a woman!
Last week, I was doing inverted rows with one of my new clients and she said she would probably break the support, as she weighed more than me. I shook my head and told her to trust me when I said I weighed more than her. She then said she weighed 60kg! I had a good 25 pounds on her, and yet she still thought I was smaller than her.
Muscle mass can be deceiving. There is a widespread myth that muscle weighs more than fat but a pound is a pound, people! The truth is that muscle is denser than fat. Hence I can be exactly the same physical size now as when I started lifting, but I can weigh significantly more.
One of my party tricks that I have mentioned before is that I will often jump on the scale right after I weigh a client for the first time. People often feel depressed after seeing the number on the scale, so there is nothing I love more than to shock them with my weight – which is usually much higher than their own! Women especially tend to feel embarrassed about their weight, and guard it like some national secret.
I turn the focus away from the figure on the scale, which is nothing more than a number. I encourage the use of girth measurements, body fat testing and the fit of clothes to measure progress instead. On the occasion that you do give in to temptation and weigh yourself, remember that your weight will likely increase if you have built some muscle.
Regardless of all that I know and preach, I still sometimes fall into the trap of letting the scale dictate my feelings. For example, last week I was feeling really lean and assumed that I had to have lost weight. My weight had actually increased by a kilo, and I immediately felt depressed. I again had to remind myself to focus on how I felt and looked.
Has your view on weight changed since you started lifting? Do you ever feel ashamed of how much you weigh?