Throw away your bathroom scale. Here's why.
The Weight Loss Contest
Over the years, we've received several emails from people taking part in office weight loss contests. You know the deal: everyone throws in 10 bucks and they compete to see who can drop the most weight in a set period of time. Winner gets the prize money.
Inspired by TV weight loss shows, these little competitions are supposed to provide motivation and help everyone at the office lose some fat and get healthier. Sometimes even the company pitches in the prize money.
But the people emailing us aren't asking for effective and sustainable training or nutrition advice. They're asking us how to rig the results so they can win the cash.
How to Win This Stupid Game
Okay, let's play along. Let's answer the question, "How do I lose the most weight by a set date?"
- Starve yourself. If you actually do eat something, throw it up.
- Do tons of cardio, as much as you can fit in. Do not lift weights.
- Before the weigh-in, use a water-purging plan like bodybuilders do before they get on stage. Try to pee and take a mondo dook before stepping on the scale. Take laxatives. Don't drink any water that day. See if you can steal one of your grandma's prescription diuretics.
Here's what will happen:
- You will lose muscle along with body fat. Your metabolism will crash. Who cares, muscle and fat all are just numbers on a scale, and this is a scale-weight contest.
- You will feel terrible and act terribly to those around you. You will barely be able to function, physically and mentally.
- You will suffer from various issues of malnourishment and invite eating disorders, body image issues, and lifelong bad dietary habits.
- You will weigh less but you'll look like a pile of cat puke. People will think you're getting chemotherapy. Your hair may start falling out too.
- You will gain all the weight back very quickly, plus a few bonus pounds of fat. Hey, as long as you win the 120 dollars, right?
Please, Don't Do That
The sad part it, many people trying to lose fat adopt many of those self-destructive practices. Why? Two main reasons.
First, they want to lose weight as fast as possible. Sure, everyone who has weight to lose wants that. But they don't differentiate between "weight" and "fat" (or even fluids). You don't really want to lose weight. You want to lose fat.
In fact, since the amount of muscle you have is the largest contributor to your overall metabolic rate, you should actually be trying to gain weight... muscle weight. If the scale number goes up and your pants size goes down over time, you're doing it right (as long as you're not starting off obese, of course).
Second, it often just comes down to not knowing any better. Even today, every weight loss commercial on TV focuses on the scale, that blind device that doesn't know the difference between muscle, fat, water, and that big poop sitting in your colon. With media bombardment like that, even those who do know better can fall into the scale-weight trap.
Throw Out the Scale
The scale can be okay to use if you have a ton of fat to lose, but it should be third on your list of progress measurement tools, behind photos or mirrors and tape measurements. Those who are already in pretty good shape and just want to bring out their abs don't need a scale at all. Seeing those natural, daily functions in weight can be demotivating and get you off track.
You probably already know better, but many of your family members and friends do not. Help spread the word: ditch the scale. And don't participate in that silly office weight loss contest.