…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

Notes About Scales

Cheryl Haworth completing snatch in Olympic Trials

What are you weighing?

Confession:  I weigh myself on a scale several times per week.

The scale, or more specifically, body weight, is something of a loaded subject in our modern ego-driven, hyper-sexualized, glamour driven, air-brushed, before -and-after culture.   Most people associate its use singularly with weight-loss.  Weight loss being about as pervasive, yet non-specific a topic as can be found in health discourse.

(Check out these guys for great discussions on this topic: What is Fit?, Olympian Sarah Robles, Also check out Behind the Lens documentary on Cheryl Haworth)

I do not weigh myself with the aim to lose any weight.  A few things I am looking for:

  1. Significant fluctuations, and corresponding behaviors
  2. Ensure my nutritional intake is in line with my training volume:  specifically to stay in a certain range above what I’ve determined to be my best racing (fighting) weight.
  3. As a figure in calculating body-fat percentage.  Again monitoring body-fat for significant fluctuations, and to stay in a certain range.
  4. To keep my training weight a couple of pounds over my race weight.  My race weight being that number I was at when I felt the strongest in a race.  Not sluggish, and not depleted.  This is only known by tracking weight against performance, along with some other numbers, and adjustments for other impacts on weight like detox and cleanse.

What I don’t care about is the number for its own sake.  I don’t care about height weight charts.  I don’t care what other guys at the gym weigh (many are bigger and weigh more, but can’t lift more).  If the FDA or USDA said it, I probably don’t care about it, and will likely do the opposite, knowing how wrong they are.  I don’t care what some guy in Men’s Health looks like, as he probably can’t out-lift, out-run, out-swim, out-survive me, especially once the airbrush work is done.  (Wow, how’s that for some vanity)

I track body weight in correlation with several factors, and have determined what is healthy for me.

For example, after Augusta last year, I noted a significant weight loss.  I also discovered I was overtrained.  The low body weight began before Augusta and also accompanied an increased resting heart rate for a few months post race.  My deduction from all this was that I had overtrained going into Augusta.  It was likely the result of injuries a month or so ahead of the race, and then my push to compensate for the lost training time.

Lesson:  Carefully monitor my training volumes against my recovery times and nutrition, using several measurements to augment my own intuitive sense.

Another use for body weight it determining my hydration levels.  If my weight is low, and my body-fat numbers are screwy, despite how I feel, I’m likely dehydrated.  It could be my plasma hydration is fine, but my general electrolyte levels are off, affecting my muscle hydration.

Low body weight (below my training weight), can indicate I’m not taking in enough calories, or maybe my protein intake is off.  Each of which can cause training to be a negative, or can lead to overtraining.

As mentioned a couple of times above, I track body-fat composition and use that as an indicator for several things.

A pop in body weight, especially after an out-of-town trip, can indicate I was eating too much crap on the road, and am now bloated.  Time to flush my system.

Almost all of these indicators are accompanied by a feeling, that if I tune into, my body will tell me what is going on. However, one of the things about being an athlete, is ignoring certain signals our body sends us, despite how loud they may be screaming.

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Jalal

Find my on Twitter.  Twitter.com/Old454

One response

  1. Example from today: I weighed in this morning down about 3 pounds from my goal training weight (sign #1). I rode 64 miles today, and drank A LOT of water during and afterwards–still down about 3 pounds (sign #2). The ride sucked more than it should have (sign #3) Indication: Something is off in either my hydration, electrolyte levels, nutrition, training levels or some combo thereof.

    Sun, 19 Aug 2012 at 2127

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