When Scales Lie

Charlie Martin, who is making good progress on his goal toward healthier lifestyle, notes that the focus on weight is misguided:

In the first 13 weeks I lost two inches on my neck and two inches around my waist. In the following four weeks, I’ve lost another 3 inches (a total of FIVE inches) around my waist.

Obviously, I like the Army’s numbers better, so let’s use them — according to the Army, I’ve lost 5 percentage points of my body fat over the last four weeks, with my weight remaining stable. (Other methods give me somwhere around 29 percent, which is the most common value from the Withing body impedance too.) My weight is around 273, and 5 percent of 273 is 14 pounds close enough.

To have lost that much body fat, and still gained roughly 2 pounds over that four weeks means I’ve exchanged some amount of body fat for muscle, while also being around 32,000 kcals in arrears for that whole four weeks.

I’d remind Charlie that a lot of linebackers weigh more than him. I don’t think they’re necessarily fat.

3 thoughts on “When Scales Lie”

  1. I’ll admit, right off the bat that I am WAY heavier than I should be. Some of it from overeating, some of it though, from 6 years of prescribed rounds of steroids, taken as things turned out, for a misdiagnosis.

    Having said that, before I became disabled and couldn’t work, I worked HARD and I did some very physical labor. The week before I originally got sick in April of 1992, I climbed a 28′ ladder into a cooling water structure, with a 80lb motor on my back in an improvised pack board. I swapped the old motor for the new one, and climbed back down with the old motor on the pack frame. Even when I was ‘pushing paper’ in a records vault on a nuclear power station construction site, I used to move FILLED filing cabinets around weekly, alone, with just a hand truck. so much for desk jobs being non-physical!

    In 1992, on the day I went to the doctor feeling bad, with the illness that eventually disabled me, I was 5’9″ tall and I weighed 279 pounds. And not much of it was fat.

    When my doctor couldn’t figure out why I was sick, he sent me to a cardiac specialist, who looked at me and proclaimed that my fatigue was most likely from advanced heart disease brought on by a ‘sedentary lifestyle and most likely made worse by my low physical output career”.

    I walked out, and refused to pay his bill, and never did.

    But I got that same type of attitude from the pulmonary doc and the endocrinologist. They kept preaching the height / weight chart at me, and blamed my healthy problems mostly on my weight. Ultimately I was correctly diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and RA, both are certainly exacerbated by my weight, but neither is ’caused’ by obesity.

    At my heaviest I weighed 479. Two years ago I had a panniculectomy that removed about 30lbs and I’ve dropped another 90 or so lbs through eating better and LESS and by getting some activity again. But my experience is that it’s NEVER enough for medical people. They get my height, and look at that damned chart, then tell me I’m 200 pounds overweight.

    Here’s what I don’t get and why the chart drives e crazy.

    Back in the mid 1970s, I had a big physical for a truck driving job. The doctor who did the exam, used a tape on me to measure my bone structure and the basic physical ‘style’ of my body. Then they did a ‘float’ test to get my body fat %, which was 27.5%.

    He then took out this crazy ‘board’ that had sliding tabs, that he moved in and out to get ??? factors about my physique. The nurse called it his ‘Ouija Board of Happy Health’. He told me that based on my bone structure, and the dunk test, I should weigh between 215 and 245 pounds. I was at about 250 that day.

    I am in no way a trained physiologist, but it certainly seems like an extensive test given to an INDIVIDUAL is a better system for deciding optimal weight, that taking a height measurement, and looking up the ‘optimal’ weight range on some damned chart.

    When I joined the Navy in 1977, I weighed 236. I actually knocked off a few pounds TO join. When I got to Boot Camp they told me I needed to lose another 20 lbs, and there’s the ‘Ouija Board’ doctors 215 again.

    The docs put me in a mandatory special diet and exercise group, we had to flash a ‘Diet Chit’ in the chow line. The chit told the guys working the line to give us limited carbs, but it also got us extra veggies and protein. We also had PT twice a day except on Sunday, Sunday we only had to do 50 jumping jacks and 25 squat thrusts.

    After 7 1/2 weeks on that program, I had slimmed down, most of my issued clothes were hanging on me, but I actually GAINED 9 pounds. I was undoubtedly in the best shape of my adult life. By the standards of the day, in the civilian world at my height / weight, I was obese.

    The current system of jamming everyone into a ‘box’ to grant them a ‘You’re Officially Healthy’ card, is short sighted and foolish given the advances in modern medicine.

    Mr. Martin, good luck on your project I wish you the best. In point of fact, I wish you will achieve the outcome YOU are seeking, not the Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz thinks is best!

    I’m kind of glad this is in here tonight Rand. My wife and I are starting a two week liquid diet in the morning at although I agreed to do it with her, I wasn’t all that pumped up about it.

    After spilling this tirade, and thinking about maybe feeling better, I’m ready, so thanks to you and Charlie Martin for sharing his experience.

  2. Der Schtumpy, I agree the wt/ht charts are bogus, unless you are right at the physical mean. I am the tall, skinny type. I recently started a desk job and added about 15 pounds of fat, and probably lost muscle too. My Dr didn’t even mention wt on my recent physical, as I am and always have been ‘underweight’. Those charts may be useful in some scientific measurement sense, but for health care of the individual, no.

  3. I was 262 the first week of January when I went ketogenic. I just weighed 238 earlier today. I have to say that the recipes over at Grace2882 have really been helpful. The toughest part has been the lunches. I used to just take a frozen dinner with me to lunch but they all have potatoes in them and sugary sauces. But she has some really good ones that are cheap and make for good on-the-go entrees.

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