What’s in a number?

healthy living waterfall  Many of us assume when we see “the numbers,” they are absolute.  Blood pressure is indicative of this–it is expressed as systole/diastole; almost like a fraction.  Contraction/relaxation–in its simplest terms.  BMI is another example, and then there’s the scale.

Now the latter two, particularly the scale, can be a major source of frustration.  Why?  We believe numbers don’t lie.  That may be, but they don’t paint the entire picture either.  The scale is a such an example.  It reminds me of viewing a lengthy movie; the very first time.  Provided it sustains your interest, you never really catch all the nuances; until you see it a second, even a third time.

Sounds a little strange? Let me explain.

The scale may read 15-20lbs over your desired weight, because muscle outweighs fat.  While most of us realize this, it’s still a difficult reality to face, when stepping onto that numeric platform.  Scales do not differentiate between bone, muscle, fat, or even the weight of a human head.  Jim Carey illustrated this once, many moons ago on the Oprah show.  He actually weighed his head.  Turns out that head weighed 25lbs!  As you can see, the scale cares little about H20 weight gain, whether your biceps are ripping through your shirt, or the size of your head.  It simply states what the weight is, that is placed upon it.  Of course there are ways to differentiate between what’s what.  But the fact of the matter is, the scale remains the most accessible tool available.


Women arguably face the flux more so than men.  Our weight can fluctuate with ovulation, menstrual cycle, hormones, and even that occasional piece of lemon meringue pie, post barbecue ribs.  The question is what if anything, should we do about it?  For me, it is as simple as this–everything and nothing.

If you are consistently working out, you realize by now you may be hungrier.  Female or male, your appetite is going to be revved up.  Yes you must feed, but know when it turns to greed.  Being conscientious about it is more than half the battle.  It may take a little time to discover where hunger leaves off, and hoarding begins.  I find this particularly true of those who are eating to satiate something other than hunger.  See my post ARE YOU EATING BECAUSE OF WHAT’S EATING YOU?  If you fit into this category, realize that food is not the enemy; but it is not solace.  It’s nourishment–not comfort, nor a filler for the potholes of life.  When you place food where it belongs–as sustenance, you can orchestrate change.  No diet or exercise will do this for you; and neither will really work until you bring yourself to this conclusion.

Whether its food or alcohol laying waste your waist, you have to understand your triggers; or boomerang effect.  As a nurse, I have seen many–but they still come from the same source.  Yes stress, other people, and of course circumstances.  Yet like that boomerang you flail with all your might at the stressors of life, it returns–with equal force & intensity.  Really, only you can decide whether or not to set that force in motion.

As far as weight fluctuations in general, know we all have them.  Medications, cravings, or even pulling or pushing extra weight in the gym can effect such change.  My rule of thumb for myself and clients is 5-8lbs.  Anything over this, regardless of circumstance, gets my attention.  While I’m not professing to be anyone’s psychologist, I have no problem asking “what’s changed for better or worse, over the past 2 weeks?”  I haven’t any problem asking myself this either.

In summary, we shouldn’t be afraid of a platform stating a numeric value.  That’s all a scale really is.  We realize it cannot differentiate or discriminate.  It’s comforting to know at least one thing that can’t.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.  I will be re-posting ARE YOU EATING BECAUSE OF WHAT’S EATING YOU? shortly.

Questions? Comments?  Extra help?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com













  1. So true. I suppose there are those who might finish a great week of workouts, healthy meals, then proudly get on the scale they couldn’t wait to get on and not see a difference. Then what? Change the workout; change the meals, all because the scale told you so? Don’t worship your the scale; your well being and piece of mind are much better scales to a healthy lifestyle.

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