Finding Balance on the Scale

For years I was a slave to the scale, weighing myself nearly every single morning for years.  Why?  Well, when I was a competitive lightweight rower I had to compete under a specific weight: 59kg for regional and national regattas, and 57kg for the World Championships (average of the crew).

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Thanks to my university education, specializing in physiology, I was able to apply everything I learned in sports nutrition to maintain weight when needed and even drop weight in a safe and healthy manner for the international stage at Worlds (I went from 58.5kg down to 55kg over 3.5 months).   And it wasn’t just about having to lose weight, but it was about ensuring I made the most of each kilogram – lean muscle for performance.  [Thank goodness this was after experiencing my own bout of sports-related bulimia when I was a junior triathlete prior to rowing.]

While I was incredibly fit as a rower, I couldn’t (nor would I want to) realistically sustain it.  It was for sport at the elite level and not for me long term.

Pregnancy was a good test for this.  Pregnant women are told that they can gain between 25-35 pounds, so you can imagine how easy it is for a pregnant woman to be obsessed with her weight and ensure she falls within this range.  I was guilty of this too to some extent, but mostly around the fact that I was obsessed with wanting to stay active and have a healthy pregnancy.  I saw how much this helped with my first pregnancy in my delivery, postpartum recovery, and even my daughter’s strength and energy to date.  So of course I wanted to make an effort to keep active in one way or another with my second pregnancy journey.

When you shift your energy from the scale towards being active instead, it’s truly refreshing and fun.  For me I was forced to think about creative ways to be active on days where I was glued to my chair all day for work.  And because I couldn’t walk to work (like I did with my first pregnancy), I really had to look around me to be creative.  I used lunch to bike indoors for 30-45 minutes, took the stairs at work when I had the energy lol, and walked with my food during my lunch breaks too.  Oh, and chasing a toddler was one way I kept active as well;)

And while you may want to avoid the scale during pregnancy, you can’t.  In my case with an OB, I was weighed every 1-4 weeks (depending on my stage of pregnancy).  It is still important to be weighed during pregnancy as it’s a way of ensuring that baby and mommy are growing well, but it shouldn’t be something one obsesses over. 

Now that I’m postpartum, I only weigh myself for sports-related reasons, such as determining my power-to-weight fitness in cycling and running.  I don’t weigh myself on the daily or even a weekly basis. I do it every 4-6 weeks when I do a fitness test to see if my power-to-weight ratio has improved, but it does not define me or my overall fitness. 

Here are a few key things to consider:

  • Height and percent of muscle vs fat all play a role in determining how much you weigh on the scale. 

  • Muscle weighs more than fat.

  • Appearances can be deceiving!  Two people can be of the same height and weight, but one of them has a higher percentage of visceral fat (fat around the organs).  I’d rather weigh more knowing I had less fat around my organs and I had more muscle!

  • Pregnancy is NOT a time to focus on weight loss.

  • If you are active, then make the choice to live your life by how you feel – embrace the endorphins you get from performing your activity of choice and be grateful that you can do what you love.

Would love to hear how you feel about weight and the scale?

Until next time,

Laura

Laura Sanhueza-Miller