Confession Time: Why the Scale Sucks

Today I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons and her Thinking out Loud link-up!

Rather than simply thinking out loud like the topic suggests, I am taking a page out of my dear friend Becky’s book and using the link-up as an opportunity to reveal a confession or two.

My confession: I am insecure about my weight.

When I started running in January 2011 (just 1.8 miles 2-3 times per week, mind you!), I was unknowingly embarking on a ~1 year long weight loss journey. That increase in cardio activity, paired with calorie counting/nutrient tracking, was definitely the key to my weight loss success.

I reached my ideal weight a little over a year ago. When I say ideal, I mean it was the weight I was at when I realized I had lost 2 pants sizes and was truly happy with how I looked (and more importantly, how I felt!). Starting at 136 pounds and a size 8, I plateaued at about 119 pounds and a size 4 sometime in 2012 and stayed there for most of 2013. I was coo with that, and I feel like it’s a pretty good size and weight for my body type. (P.S. Here’s my before and after pics just for funsies!)


at the color run in august 2013 looking quite svelte!

Since so much of my weight loss success was tied in with my running, when I decided to run a half marathon a few months ago, I figured, if anything, I’d lose some more weight.


Over the past 3 months, I’ve gained about 8 pounds. For those of you keeping track at home, that would mean that I have gained back half of what I lost after college. At first, this felt like a huge setback. Some part of me (brainwashed by society, no doubt) kinda liked the fact that I was under 120 pounds. Anything with a ‘teen’ in it sounds skinny, right?

But the reason I decided to run a half marathon was not to lose weight. Upon further reflection, the main reason I signed up to run the half was to feel strong. The question I’ve found myself asking myself is: What makes me feel stronger: a number on the scale, or being able to run 11 miles without stopping?

after my sub 60 min 10k!

after my first sub 60 min 10k!

Um, NO BRAINER people. I feel like a bad ass any time I run for over an hour. Every hill I climb, every curb I hop over, and every mad dash to the end of my run…makes me feel amazing.

One of the most recent times I was able to weigh myself, I looked in the mirror first. Was I happy with what I saw?

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a picture of the picture on saturday to send to my BFF and pretend i wasn't on a plane coming to see her!

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a pic of the pic on saturday to send to my BFF on snapchat to pretend i wasn’t on a plane coming to see her! #SNAPCEPTION

The answer was still yes. Since I don’t have a gym anymore, I do a lot of ab work. My legs are freakin’ tight and lean from all that climbing, hopping, and mad dashing. I proceeded to step onto the scale, see that I was still 8 pounds heavier than “normal”, and….did not really care.

The problem with relying on the scale to track my progress is that as my mileage increases, so does my muscle mass. Most of my weight gain is muscle. The only clothes that fit differently are my jeans around my thighs — which are HUGE and hard as rocks now, by the way.

What really put everything into perspective was the realization that even though I am only about 8 pounds away from my 2010 weight, I am still 2 sizes smaller. Basically, all of my weight is compacted into a smaller package than before, even though I weigh more now than I did 4 months ago.

There are other added benefits to building muscle that outweigh any disadvantages (pun intended). According to a recent issue of Women’s Health, one of the biggest misconceptions about women and building muscle is that if you stop weight training, it turns into fat. The fact is, muscle tissue and fat tissue are two completely different kinds of tissue: muscle by nature requires more energy to metabolize, meaning the higher ratio of muscle-fat your body contains, the more energy (calories!) it will have to expend to keep things running.  Sounds like a good thing, right?

This is a big reason why, though I still track my food pretty often throughout the week, my focus is less on calorie counting to lose weight and more on replacing all of the calories I lose on my workout days with calories from healthy protein sources. I am trying to teach my body to run 13 miles at once…the least I could do is properly fuel it!

So that’s my confession: I am not always happy with the number I see on the scale. But I am happy with what my body is capable of, and I feel so great physically most of the time that it is hard to let a big little number keep me down. 😉

How do you track your fitness progress?

Have you ever experienced muscle weight gain?

25 thoughts on “Confession Time: Why the Scale Sucks

  1. Ugh, I hate the scale too! I try not to go on it because every time I feel my strongest the number is always higher than normal and it’s so misleading. I just try to go off of how tight my pants feel and how my stomach and arms look, etc. I know when I’m doing well and when I’m not at my best. I don’t need a scale to tell me that.

    • Totally! You should’ve seen how surprised I was when I first realized how much I weighed.. I’d been feeling like such a badass with all my running. Just gotta focus on that feeling and not the number!

  2. I agree that the number on the scale means nothing.
    Muscle weighs a lot more than fat so of course the number on the scale is going to go up if you build muscle. You’ve gained weight, but you didn’t gain fat, or get any bigger in size.
    And you look great!

    • Thank you! And yep! It makes so much sense that muscle will weigh more, but the scale is the easiest way for us to measure progress, even if it’s an inaccurate one.

  3. culturedchaos says:

    As someone who has gained and lost weight since puberty I urge you not to care about the scale! The “skinniest” I ever was had me weighing in at 128 lbs (at 5’2″), but I had so much lean muscle and looked so slim that my Mom actually asked if I was eating. She thought I was down to like 110. The scale LIES. As long as you like what you see in the mirror and feel healthy and strong, the number does not matter.

    • I absolutely agree with everything you just said! I actually was getting some similar comments around the holidays from family and was proud to be able to retort that I had in fact gained weight. The scale is the worst!

  4. I am definitely on the same page with you! It’s easy to get hung up on the scale even though it doesn’t tell the whole story – I mean, just look at your abs!) Congrats on all your successful running, and be proud of those rock-hard legs! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. A pound is a pound, whether it is of muscle or fat. Now, fat is less dense and takes up more space, so if you would like to know your accomplishment in the reduction measure how much less space you take up.

    Measure your legs, waist, chest, arms, and neck. That will let you know how much you have accomplished.

    Clifford Mitchem
    Advocare Distributor
    Nutrition + Fitness = Health

  6. And that’s basically why I don’t bother weighing myself — the scale will never tell you the whole story and will only mess with your head. The same thing always happens to me in the winter. I snowboard a lot which works my legs like crazy and leads to a good amount of muscle gain. I definitely notice my pants fitting differently, but am I going to give up something I absolutely adore doing because of it? Heck no. You look great, girl, and if you’re feeling good too, then just keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

  7. Ashley @MilesonOats says:

    PREACH SISTA! When I train for half marathons and packed on the miles I have about a 5 lb swing. I sat comfortable at 146 all summer. Once I got injured and had to switch to cross training and more upper body strength vs. running 30 miles a week, I slowly but surely dropped down to 140 ish. Then when I start running again (even 6 miles) my body weight fluctuates like cray. The scale is a 2 faced betch! Keep doing your thing lovely 🙂

  8. i love this!!! i gained almost ten pounds training for my half marathon and was like wtf. i few months ago i gave my scale away and i’m so much better off for it–i have a pretty good idea of how much i weigh right now (i’ve lost about 40 pounds since college, at one point it was 50), but i don’t feel good about my body because of the number, i feel good about my body because i take good care of it.

  9. Katie, I love this post! I have definitely beaten myself up in the past over small weight fluctuations. I got so focused on the scale at one point that it began to dictate how I would feel the entire day about myself. That is when I decided to ditch it for good. It has also made me get a lot more in tune with my body. There are so many more important indicators of health. And a low number is not good when you are aiming to be strong.

  10. Totally agree! The scale is complete BS! I try not to give so much power to a number on the scale, and more so how I feel.. It’s a hard habit to break, but I feel so much more free and happier in the long run! This post was awesome- thank you!!

  11. Love, love, love this post!! You look incredible!!

    I hate when people measure themselves by the number on the scale because it isn’t an accurate reflection of what’s going on under your skin. Like you said, muscle weighs more so don’t obsess over the scale. Worry about how clothes fit & how you feel (energized, healthy, strong, etc).

    & I gain weight every time I start training for long races. In fact, I lost a ton of weight after having Atlas & when I started running/working out I gained weight. But I feel sure it was muscle…hence, I only weigh myself about once a month.

  12. I love this post! I actually made a New Years Resolution to step off the scale. I’m at a point where I’ve never felt this thin but it just doesn’t translate to the scale. I’ve started adding weight training to my 40 min cardio, so I know I’m building muscle. Thanks for the encouraging words and posting about a really sensitive issue.

  13. You are looking amazing! (Though even at your biggest, you looked pretty good.) Totally agree about not caring what the scales say. I haven’t owned any scales in years, and actually prefer not to know what I weigh, as I think people can become over-focused on, and even obsessed by, the number they see. Focusing on your weight can actually blind you from seeing what matters: how healthy you look and feel. I eat fairly healthily but enjoy indulging in some treats too, and go to the gym and the pool as well as walking to and from work. So I think my lifestyle is pretty healthy. But I know straight away if I’ve had a bit too much cake and need to hit the gym!! Keep up the good work!

    • Aw thank you, you’re really sweet! I agree with everything you said. If you can find a balance between being healthy and indulging, and make it to the gym to kick your butt every once in a while, it doesn’t really matter what the number on the scale is if you’re feeling great!

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