While at dinner last night my son informed me that one of his teachers had a condition that attacked her “humane system.” I told him I suffered from the same condition and now I hate puppies and small children…
Scales are evil; maybe not as evil as tyranny or prejudice or reality TV, but not far behind. I hate scales. The scale, much like other elements in the world of health and fitness, gives you one piece of information without disclosing other relevant pieces of information. The scale does not paint a complete picture and this fact becomes evermore hazardous as we age.
Muscle is metabolically active tissue. Fat is not. We are losing, on average, 4/10ths of one pound of muscle per year after the age of 50 through the process of Sarcopenia. So if a 65 year old steps on the scale and sees that she has lost six pounds, she might think that is a good thing. But it may not be a good thing. It may be that she has lost valuable muscle mass, which has lowered her metabolic rate and decreased her functional strength. Some of her weight loss will also be water weight, which will have a negative impact on brain and muscle function.
Here is a real world example of healthy weight loss. A client of mine, who we will call her Irene, went in for a checkup after six months at our facility. She had lost four pounds. At least that is what the scale said. But remember that the scale is giving you a skewed, one dimensional slice of reality without the substance to give it any meaning whatsoever, like the Jersey Shore. What a body composition analysis would show was that Irene’s four pound net weight loss was actually a twelve pound fat mass loss and an eight pound muscle mass gain while dropping multiple pant sizes along the way. Based on her beautiful smile, I would say it had a positive impact on her humane system as well.