A Pound is a Pound is a Pound
(For the record – I’m neither a fitness nor a medical expert; but I do know a wee bit about shedding a pound or two*)
I have aspirations of running a marathon. There. I’ve said it. It’s out in the open. It’s not going to happen this year. But I think a half-marathon might. I know that it’s within me to accomplish. But I also know that I have a lot of work to do in order to get there.
I’ve run 5 km distances countless times. I’ve even done two 10 km runs (one the weekend before my wedding, no less; yeah, I didn’t think that one through very well.) But I respect the challenge enough to know that dragging my arse across a finish line that’s a full 21 kilometres from the start line is NOT in the same category. At all.
As someone who spent a lifetime being unfit & out of shape, my battle toward fitness has proven to be a more attainable goal by gleaning advice & inspiration from outside sources; Weight Watchers was a fantastic resource that gave me the support & knowledge I needed, at the time, to shed an enormous amount of weight. Now that my aspirations are more toward fitness, however, I’ve looked elsewhere. The world of running, for one, has proven to be outstanding means to an end.
As a result of my focus shifting gears, I now spend a lot (I mean, a lot) of time surfing around various health & fitness websites and personal blogs looking for success stories, workout routines or recipes.
I’ve learned to take in the information that’s helpful and toss aside the garbage. Unfortunately, though, not everyone has a knowledge base that will allow them to filter through what’s valid and what’s not.
And, while there is a tremendous amount of correct & proven information out there from people with varying levels of experience & expertise – it never ceases to amaze me the number of times I see (in print!) “a pound of fat weighs more than a pound of muscle.”
First of all, let’s look at that sentence. Semantics aside, that statement is such a flagrant violation of the laws of physics that it makes my teeth itch. How can one pound of one substance POSSIBLY weigh more than one pound of another substance?
Remember that riddle we used to love to tell when we were kids? “What weighs more – a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers?” Didn’t we all just think we were sooooo clever? Well, this is the same thing. One pound (of anything) weighs exactly the same amount as one pound (of any OTHER thing.)
A pound of fat does NOT weigh more than a pound of muscle. A pound of fat takes up more space than a pound of muscle – yes, this is true. But volume and weight are two separate measurements.
And that’s one of the reasons women are encouraged to add strength training and exercise with weights to their cardio routines. Trust me… you’re not going to end up looking like Ah-nold. It’s not in our genetic makeup. Those female bodybuilders you see on TV? They had to work way harder than their male counterparts to get that bulked-up and ripped.
It’s also one of the reasons you’ll hear fitness experts say things like, “get rid of your scale,” or, “don’t base your success solely on the number your scale gives you.”
If you base your success (or failure) on just the number on your scale, you’re missing the big picture. Because, while you work out and feed your body natural foods within your daily caloric range, that number may change very little… and sometimes, not at all. This is because, while you’re burning away that pesky body fat, you’re building lean muscle mass at the same time.
And, while one pound of muscle still weighs as much as one pound of fat, it’s going to take up a LOT less space in your Calvins.
So do yourself a favour: invest in a tape measure & use it. If you’re trying to affect a change in your body composition you need to look at more than just your scale. Can you climb a flight of stairs now without getting winded? Does jogging around the block seem slightly less daunting than it used to? Is that mark where your bra strap used to dig into your flesh now gone? Then you’re doing something right. Keep it up. The number on the scale will move in its own good time. But, with all these other points of reference, it won’t seem like the end of the world when it doesn’t do it instantly.
And can we please (for the love of jebus!) STOP perpetuating the adage that “a pound of fat weighs more than a pound of muscle”?