Posted On:
Friday, February 2, 2018
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: Don't be Defined by a Number on the Scale

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Has it been seven days already?? Why, yes it has. It’s time for Coach Tip Tuesday!!

This week I’m going to tackle something that has come up for a lot of the athletes who I worked for over the years. We’re going to talk about healthy weight and endurance training/racing. I can narrow down this entire blurb to this: don’t define yourself by a number that pops up on a scale.

Okay, okay.  So you’ve heard MANY quotes and sound bites about how a number on a scale shouldn’t define you.  But it’s true.  The number that is on the scale only tells you what your relative mass is to Earth’s gravity.  THAT’S IT.  It does not tell you how strong you are, how much muscle you have, how many babies you have given birth to, or what your story is.  It’s literally just a number.  It’s sad that popular culture has made it SO MUCH more than a number to so many people.

When athletes tell me that they want to lose weight, I always ask them why.  The why is incredibly important.  Do they want to make performance gains??  Has their doctor advised them that losing weight is important for them health-wise??  Do they want to fit into some old clothes??  Do they want to get back to their high school weight??  Do they think that they’ll be happier if the scale shows them a smaller number??  Some of these reasons are valid, and others, in my humble opinion, aren’t as valid.  

When considering weight, it’s important to look at a bunch of factors.  First off, it’s important to determine what is a healthy weight for THAT person.  Sure, generalized charts can give us “healthy ranges,” but those may or may not work for some people.  News flash, folks: My current weight puts me in the “Overweight” category on most of those Height/Weight charts you see.  Any of you who know me in real life probably would find that to be ridiculous, and to be honest, I’m right there with you.  Yes, I’m above my racing weight, but by no means am I unhealthy.  My current weight is healthy for where I am right now.

Once we have an idea of what a healthy weight a for a particular athlete, we can move forward to consider other factors that may contribute to weight loss or gain. Is the athlete eating enough every day?? Is the athlete fueling workouts appropriately?? Is the athlete consuming nutritious food, or are their calories coming from poor sources?? Bringing these things into balance generally results in an athlete who has good overall health and wellness. As a result, the number on the scale may or may not change; in fact, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the athlete’s body composition shifts so that they lose body fat and gain muscle mass, and this can result in the athlete’s weight staying the same. There is such a thing as a “healthy XXX pounds” and an “unhealthy XXX pounds” in the same person.

Moral of the story after all of my preaching at you: don’t let yourselves be defined by a number on a scale.  Instead, try to look at the complete picture of your health from ALL angles.  Trust me, you’ll be all the better for it. :)

About

Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at laura@fullcircleendurance.com.

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