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Want to Improve Body Composition? Here’s how to know if it’s Working

CrossFit Ethos in Orange County CA shared a post by Beau R. relating an incident he and his wife had regarding her weight (Ed: now deleted).   She had been feeling fabulous about herself after CrossFitting for 8 months.  Then she casually gave in to temptation and stepped on a scale at the store.

You can guess the rest of the story, because it’s so common in our society.  We have been taught all our lives that how much we weigh determines our self worth.  For many of us, a five pound decrease and we’re elated, a five pound increase and we’re despondent.  For those, mostly men, trying to gain, the directions are reversed, but the emotions just as powerful.  When Beau’s wife went by how she felt and how she looked, she was elated.  When she looked at the scale, all that social programming came rushing back.

Related: On-Ramp Accelerates You to CrossFit Speed

When we start improving our diet and begin exercising, we have been told again and again to watch the scale.  But muscle is denser than fat, so replacing a pound of fat with a pound of muscle will make you smaller (see photo).  There will be a pound less of fat covering your muscle.  You will be more capable of performing tasks in the real world because you have traded useless weight (fat) for useful weight (muscle & bone).  This increased capacity will raise your self esteem, even though the number on the scale hasn’t changed.


The scale just tells you how much force gravity applies to you.  It doesn’t tell you anything about what that force is pulling – whether it’s fat, muscle, bone, or brain.  A standard scale cannot tell you how healthy you are, or whether you are attractive to your preferred sex(es).  It does not tell you about changes in what makes up your weight.  And since we have loaded that number with so much emotional firepower, and losing muscle, bone density, or capability is not reflected in that number, it is rarely a positive motivator.  Since it provides no actionable, positive information, it should be tossed out with the rest of the trash.

Related: Everybody’s Getting on the Strength Train(ing)

So, what should you look at?  How you feel.  How your clothes fit.  How you look.  How you perform in the gym.  If you must quantify your efforts, then the number you need is your body fat percentage.  This tells you how much of your total body mass is fat, versus functional mass like bone, muscle, and organs.  To satisfy this desire, CrossFit Slipstream is introducing body fat assessment as an additional service.  Contact us at info@crossfitslipstream.com to make an appointment, get a baseline, and then track your progress using a number that actually tracks your real goals.

body fat

–John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer