50% off Strength programs

Fuel Your Strength 386 - Why Athletic Women Should Toss the Bathroom Scale

Why Athletic Women Should Toss the Bathroom Scale

Women are starting to fuel better, lift heavier, recover smarter; they are having fewer aches and pains, but yet we still collectively place huge importance on the number we see on the bathroom scale.

This can be problematic for women athletes, as that number is not an accurate representation of the gains you’re working towards.

Click play to listen right on this page, no app is needed:

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher

Want a free week of strength workouts? Click here to get started!

Key Takeaways

  1. Understand that there are many nuances and complexities when dealing with your relationship with the scale
  2. Work towards stopping weighing yourself in whatever unique way feels good to you
  3. Remember that the scale is not an accurate representation of the strength gains you are making

The Power of the Scale

The bathroom scale has a collective power over many of us when it comes to being an athletic woman who wants to train and be strong.

We can make an entire list of things that have been improving since we started training, but if the scale isn’t going down, we have been conditioned to think it is not successful.

But the truth is, there are so many gains you get from taking care of yourself that have nothing to do with counting calories, eating less and moving more, or weighing yourself every day.

The scale can get in the way of your ability to feel at ease with things and fully embrace your identity as an athletic woman.

The Scale Doesn’t Tell You Everything

Weighing yourself less, removing the scale from your environment, and keeping things in perspective when it comes to gaining muscle mass and bone strength are all ways that you can work on your health rather than the number on the scale.

This is not just an aesthetics game anymore; you need to move past being ‘toned’ or ‘skinny’ and focus on what really matters.

When you’re fueling yourself better, lifting heavier, and recovering smarter, you begin to have more energy, see more muscle definition and size, see improvements in your recovery and your energy, and so much more.

These habits might not lower our body weight to what society idealizes, but they will help you stay strong and healthy for as long as possible.

How does the bathroom scale factor into your relationship with your body, your weight, and your training? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Why making strength gains has so many benefits that have nothing to do with the scale (8:29)
  • How to know if you are fueling enough for your training (13:59)
  • The impact of pressure from diet culture when it comes to maintaining unrealistic weight standards (20:45)
  • Understanding how body dysmorphia plays into our relationship with our weight (25:35)
  • What you can focus on instead of the bathroom scale (28:26)


“I want to help you move past the bathroom scale as having so much power over you as a woman athlete.” (2:21)

“Especially as athletic women, who constantly have the message drilled into us that we need to just eat less and move more, eat less and move more, we deserve a little bit more of a sophisticated conversation than that.” (13:33)

“There can be a lot of reasons why we still continue to put so much emphasis and importance on the scale, even when everything else is better!” (26:06)

“As an athletic woman, relying on weighing yourself less as a metric of your strength, as a metric of your improvements in the way that you are taking care of yourself and the things that you are prioritizing, is a smart way to move eventually.” (30:01)

“There are lots of different things that you can think about, instead of just keeping track of your body weight on the scale.” (39:36)

Featured on the Show

Apply for Strength Nutrition Unlocked Program

Follow Steph on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Pinterest

I’d really love it if you would take 1 min and leave us a rating and review on iTunes!

Podcast production & marketing support by the team at Counterweight Creative

Support the Podcast

Get 20% off Legion Supplements with code STEPH

Get your first month of Whoop free ($30 off)

Save 10% off GORUCK with code FUELYOURSTRENGTH

Follow Steph on Instagram

Rate and review on Apple Podcasts

Related Episodes

Ep 120: The Scale 

Ep 350: Are You Eating Enough? Low Energy Availability in Sport 

Ep 373: The Problem with Tiny Pink Dumbbells with Nikki Naab-Levy

Why Athletic Women Should Toss the Bathroom Scale Transcript

Every day was like Groundhog Day, I’d wake up, head to the bathroom, do my thing, and immediately get on the scale. Whatever the bathroom scale said, had the power to make or break my entire day, at the time I was racing mountain bikes.

And I did care about being a great athlete. But it also cared a lot about the number on the scale. And that ultimately led me to a lot of unhealthy choices with my training and my nutrition. And if you’re a lot like me, you’re an athletic woman, probably over 40, you might have a bit of a hate-hate relationship with the bathroom scale.

In this episode, I’m taking a look at why women athletes should consider tossing the scale. And hopefully change your mind about what the scale really has the power to tell you in terms of your training, and your performance.

If you’re an athletic 40, something woman who loves lifting weights, challenging yourself, and doing hard shit, the Fuel Your Strength podcast is for you. You’ll learn how to eat, train, and recover smarter. So you build strength and muscle, have more energy, and perform better in and out of the gym. I’m strength nutrition strategist and weightlifting coach, Steph Gaudreau.

The Fuel Your Strength podcast dives into evidence-based strategies for nutrition training and recovery. And why once you’re approaching your 40s and beyond, you need to do things a little differently than you did in your 20s. We’re here to challenge the limiting industry narratives about what women can and should do in training and beyond. If that sounds good, hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s go!

Why We’re Talking About the Bathroom Scale

Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. I’m so happy you’re here with me today because this conversation is so important. And it might get a bit spicy at times. But I promise you, it’s because I care. I’ve been there. I’ve seen these things. I see these things now. And I want to help you move past the bathroom scale of having so much power over you as a woman athlete. Now, before we go any further, make sure you hit subscribe on your podcast app that means a ton and is so very helpful in spreading the word about the fuel your strength podcast. Okay, so let’s think about this. It’s been a long time since I first talked about the bathroom scale.

On a previous podcast episode, I just took a pause to go back and check. It was episode 120. And this was in 2018. So over four years ago, I first talked about this more explicitly on the podcast. And as you can imagine, a lot has not changed when it comes to athletic women who continue to struggle with this albatross of the scale, the bathroom scale, and the power that it continues to have over us collectively.

Even when we feel like we’re making progress away from a lot of the other things that we used to do like undereating and overtraining. So on this episode, I’m going to be kind of teasing some of this apart and looking at why is this still a thing.

What Can You Gain from Not Weighing Yourself?

What can moving away from the scale give you and what might you want to focus on instead, just upfront, I want to acknowledge that this is not an easy conversation to have. And you are an individual with your own life experiences.

And you may come to this conversation with different lived experiences than myself. I also want to say upfront that if a discussion of weight loss or changing body composition, or any of that is triggering for you, then this may not be the best episode for you to listen to.

But my goal is that you have a more honest and kind of frank discussion of the scale and weight and why we put so much emphasis on these things. And particularly why for women, especially women athletes, this continues to be so problematic. So I just want to acknowledge all of that before we dive in.

So recently I was talking to one of my students, Kristy and we had a chat about her results in Strength Nutrition Unlocked. Kristy’s 49 & she does CrossFit she used to be a runner, and Kristy was talking about all these really cool things that have changed for her since she’s been focusing on the framework inside of strength nutrition unlocked, and really following the process that we lay out. So she’s seeing increases in her strength. She’s running again and is running a half marathon at the end of October. And she just got her fastest time on her three-mile run.

She’s noticing a change in her, you know, definition in her shoulder muscles, which was something she’d always wanted to see was okay, I want to see that I’m actually getting some definition, and I’m adding some muscle mass. And she’s finally noticing that, and one of the most poignant parts of that conversation is where Christy was telling me all these wonderful things that had changed, and she’s feeling so much better and has so much more energy and strength improving. And she said, but I’m staying off of the scale. I’m not weighing myself because I just, I just don’t want to go there.

Why Do Women Athletes Still Struggle with the Scale?

And I hear this from so many women. In my program in the community, I’ve talked to so many of you in DMS and in emails about some of the things you continue to either struggle with or noodle on when it comes to being an athletic woman who cares about training and performance and wants to be strong. But yet, the scale continues to get in the way and caulk blocks your kind of complete feeling of being at ease with things and being able to fully embrace this identity as an athletic woman.

So I wanted to talk about this because like I said, it hasn’t gotten any better. In a lot of cases, I feel like this has just continued to intensify with stress from the last few years, and people are seeing their bodies changing and routines being disrupted. And, of course, all of the stress going on in the world. And I thought it was important to bring this topic back up because I don’t think it’s something we’re going to solve in one podcast episode.

But I hope to give you some really important perspectives. And by the way, if you want to get on a call with us and talk about if strength nutrition unlocked is right for you, and the goals that you have, you can go ahead and book a call with us at Steph gaudreau.com/apply.

So when we get athletic women over 40, to start fueling better, lifting heavier, recovering smarter, you know, maybe we’re changing our training or switching these mega-long cardio sessions. For shorter bursts of sprinting. We’re lifting heavier than we ever have. And we know that that’s important. We’re no longer fasting, or being ultra-low-carb, we’re not skipping meals every single day. We’re not just trying to push calories as low as we possibly can. What we’re oftentimes seeing is all of these improvements. And I guess you could sum it up by saying feeling and performing better. And everything’s great.

Why You Need to Fuel, Not Diet

So quite often I hear things like one of our amazing group members who just joined a couple of weeks ago in Strength Nutrition Unlocked was telling me how she’s starting to eat more and feeling better. And oh my gosh, now, instead of when her son asked her to play tennis, and she says no, I don’t have enough energy, I’m too tired. Or when her daughter suggested going stand-up paddleboarding. And instead of saying no, she had no energy, she had enough energy to go do those things. And so it’s not just the energy to feel awake and alert and present.

And like we’re not falling asleep. Of course, that matters. But it’s also the energy to go out in your day and engage in your relationships in a way that brings you a lot of joy. It’s being able to participate in the adventures that you find a lot of fulfillment from, it’s being able to really make a difference in maybe your community if that’s important to you, or with your career, if you’re on that focus track. So energy, of course, is great for you to feel good in your body. But how does that actually translate into the rest of your life? Right?

Many women are starting to see again, for the first time, they’re like, Wow, I’m finally getting the muscle definition, building the muscle shape and size that I’ve wanted. And it’s great to see that we’re moving past this idea that, Oh, we’re just going to go bulky and we shouldn’t get bulky and all of these things. But now women are realizing, even women who’ve been training for a while in different sports, like maybe myself when I was an endurance athlete. I didn’t start lifting weights until the very end of endurance training in my endurance career as a cyclist. And I wish I had done more of that because I now see that it’s very important but we’re seeing a lot more people embracing the idea that it’s not just toning.

Can You Still Be Athletic in Your 40s?

It’s not just tiny pink dumbbells that are going to get us there. We need to understand the real principles of progressive overload and why it matters for women, as we’re going through the menopause transition, right from peri-menopause to post-menopause, or losing the signal of estrogen. So we need to replace that with a strong enough signal that we’re actually lifting heavy enough. And it’s wonderful. Now we’re seeing more people embracing this idea of, okay, we, we don’t need to be a Kate Moss wave from the 90s.

Because that’s when a lot of us actually were in high school and growing up. Now that we’re in our 40s, we’re used to that. And that message that that’s the only right body type, or we’re used to lots of messages about toning and tiny, tiny weights are all we can do. It’s all we could ever handle. It’s all we’re capable of. And recently, I did a podcast with Nikki Nab Levy on this, we’ll link it in the show notes. It’s called tiny pink dumbbells or something of that nature, so you can check it out.

So women are starting to feel better lift heavier, recover smarter, they’re having fewer aches and pains. They’re not as ridiculously sore from every workout. I’m in a group where I come to look around on Facebook sometimes, and somebody was just saying that they did Karen, which in CrossFit speak means you did 150 wall balls for time, which is basically like, squat down with a heavy medicine ball and then throw it up into the air at a target on the wall. It’s a full-body exercise, and it really hits your quads. And you know what, it’s a lot of reps.

So a lot of people get super sore from Karen, but your regular training shouldn’t be causing an extreme amount of soreness. When people tell me they’re sore all the time, all the time. I’m like, What is going on with nutrition with the training itself with recovery? Right? I’m hearing from women, you know, I’m more mentally even-keeled, like mood swings, I don’t have the mood swings, I used to have able to handle stressful situations a little bit more easily. You know, I feel more mentally resilient. I have a more flexible relationship with food.

What is Low Energy Availability?

Right, I’m starting to understand that the middle zone here, you know, we’re thinking about the pendulum swing from a restriction on one side to binging on the other that there’s a middle ground, right of understanding how food affects our body, our satiety levels, our training, we’re getting more sophisticated with that understanding thing like carbs need not be feared. Although this is something I continue to, hear about.

So lots and lots of incredible things are happening. We’re having more conversations about, again, why over 40, especially as we’re progressing through the menopause transition, we need to make sure we’re not cutting energy intake too low. And I mean, that’s true of all phases of life, male-female, right? It’s very important, we’re not in a state of low energy availability, especially as athletic women who constantly have the message drilled into us that we need to just eat less and move more, eat less and move more.

We need some who deserve a little bit more of a sophisticated conversation than that. And you can go back and listen to the podcasts we’ve done on low-energy availability. But we’re seeing lots of positives, lots and lots of positives. And quite often I will talk to women in their listing this whole list, they’re like I’m putting more weight on the bar in the gym, I’m quite obviously getting stronger. Maybe I’m got my first pull up or I’m able to do push-ups from the full plank position with my hands on the ground.

Like I’m squatting my body weight, I just pulled 200 pounds and deadlift or 300 pounds in the deadlift. I mean, it’s absolutely incredible. And then there’s always a but the scale, the scale, I don’t know, unless it’s the scale has gone down, people are not happy. And I want to talk about why this is still the thing. And then what we might be able to focus on instead is why we can list an entire list of things that are going better, we’re feeling better, we’re performing better, maybe even our clothes are fitting better. And we’re still like but but but the scale is the same or maybe it went up.

What is Negativity Bias?

And it’s like that one thing has the power to negate all of the rest of those amazing things that you just told me you’re so happy about and you’re so pleased with and you’re feeling so much better about. And I get it, we humans have a negativity bias, right, we tend to focus on the one thing that somebody could give you 10 compliments, and then the 11 thing they say is something about your hair looking bad today, or whatever it is, and we focus on that. So I understand why that is.

But it tends to be one of the bigger sticking points with the athletes, the athletic women that I talk to and that I work with. There are people who have devoted their entire lives to studying why this is such a hard thing for women to stop doing, right the idea of constantly weighing ourselves and I told the story at the top of the show, that’s a true story. That’s how I used to start my day. And when I was an endurance athlete, I just wanted to be smaller.

Because the entire sport at that time, and even still, to this day, although hopefully, things are getting a bit more sophisticated, was really devoted to this idea that we just need to be as light as possible so that we can push more watts and go up hills faster, ride with more power, that’s called power to weight ratio is also a sort of prized metric in things like running, swimming, other kinds of endurance sports, especially, is that you be as light as possible, get as powerful as possible, and therefore you will be the best athlete. There was. There were a few stories that came out of the Tokyo Olympics when they finally had the Olympics in 2021.

Eat More to Perform Better

One year was delayed obviously, because of the pandemic. And a couple of these stories that came out were about these. It reminds me of when Molly Galbraith from girls gun strong posted, this photo of her that went viral a few years back that was like, this is you know, it’s January 1, this is not my before picture. This is just my Now picture, talking about how we so often go on these crash diets. So we collectively as a society go on crash diets in January. And then it’s such a preposterous headline that it just caught so many people’s attention as being almost absurd, right?

A woman can like her body right now and not want to go on a New Year’s diet. Well, the headlines of a few of the stories that came out, and I’m paraphrasing were like women athletes eat more and perform better. Like, it was shocking, because we don’t, it was a newsworthy story, I guess because this is something that we assume that women athletes or athletic women don’t do, right? And so the story was, was really amazing.

There were a couple that comes to mind. One was a decathlete from Team USA, who talked about all these terrible things, you know, being just drained during warm-ups and not being able to complete her workouts and like always thinking about food and cutting out all her carbs and how she then got out of that. And a very large part of that was fueling properly.

And then the second story that comes to mind was some of the women rowers from New Zealand, and how in 2016, some of their team nutritionists were like, oh, we should assess them and see if they’re in a are they at risk for red s which is relative energy deficiency in sport is the syndrome that can arise from chronic low energy availability, not eating enough compared to the amount of energy you’re expending.

And this means you don’t have enough energy left over for your basic bodily functions. And they assessed some of their female rowers and found most of them were at risk for or in this red S. state or nearly there. So they were not performing well. And then their antidote to that, of course, was education and looking at the training, but they also realized that their women athletes were significantly under-fueled.

Women Athletes and Weight Class Sports

And what happened was even in a sport like rowing where bodyweight is sometimes a contentious thing, these women started to absolutely crush their work and their training and went on to medal at the Tokyo Olympics. And so I tell that story because I think sometimes there’s pressure from coaches or pressure from being in a specific sport, especially if this is a weight-class-based sport. I used to participate in and coach in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. And of course, as somebody competing in Olympic weightlifting, there are weight classes.

As in the world of Brazilian Jujitsu, if you’re competing, there are weight classes. So class sports can put a lot of pressure on an athlete to try to maintain or cut to make weight. Sometimes, of course, maybe bulking, but more often than not, it’s going to be cutting in order to make weight. And that cutting is going to be some kind of dieting.

So that can be a huge element of pressure, as well. So we have just pressures from the sport that we’re in, or from coaches, or from other athletes, potentially, who pressure us into certain things like, you know, dieting, and trying to maintain a weight that’s unrealistic for us. So we have that element of it. I mean, culturally, we have things like the pervasiveness of diet, culture, and fatphobia, and how that intersects with things like anti-blackness, and racism. So there’s a whole element there of why, you know, why does weight continue to be perpetuated as a thing and how that plays out?

Why the BMI is Wrong

Right, the BMI, the body mass index, and we’ve seen over the years how it started to show some major cracks in terms of its ability to say anything about an individual’s health status. And it was never really designed as that kind of tool but then became co-opted, right? We also have unrealistic expectations or beliefs about what our own weight should be. For example, if you said you should be X number of pounds, do you even know what that would look like?

And have you considered you could be the same weight, you could be the same, that same weight, but look different ways because your body composition may be different? I mean, I think most of us have pretty unrealistic expectations and are pretty bad guessers when it comes to guessing other people’s weight, like at some kind of carnival game.

But we’re not very good at that. And your body weight may have stayed roughly the same. But you could have several different ways that your body composition expresses itself. So there’s that and you know, how old were you when you developed this expectation, or this ideal, quote, unquote, wait, that you should be where you were 14 when you read it in Cosmo, and you are still not a fully formed adult, because you’re still going through puberty. I mean, like, it sounds ridiculous.

But when we really stop and think about it, or maybe you’re thinking about when you were 19, and there was just this dress that you love to wear, and now you couldn’t fit into that dress. And you’ve also had two kids, or it’s 30 years ago, and we just think our bodies should never change. It’s, again, it’s just it sounds ridiculous. But that’s what a lot of us sometimes compare to. And it’s worth thinking about that recently, I was talking to a client, and they said something about a particular weight. And I said, Well, where did that number come from?

And they were like, Hmm, I don’t even really I don’t really know. So just stop and ask yourself, you know, why is this a thing for you that you keep thinking you have to get to this certain body weight, or you won’t be happy, or you’re not going to be satisfied, or you need to just keep going and going and going until you hit that point, and you’re not going to stop thinking about it until you do. Or maybe it’s a body fat percentage, I see a lot of athletic women switch the scale weight for a body fat percentage, because they think,

Is it Better to Measure Body Composition?

Okay, well, I know the skill doesn’t tell me everything. So now I’m obsessed with going to get DEXA scans or Bod Pod assessments. There’s a really great article that I can link to in the show notes about why these are not actual measurements of body composition. There are only estimations. And they are, there’s a lot of percentage error that goes into them. So sometimes we think well, I know it’s not, you know, the skill doesn’t tell me everything.

So I’m just going to keep going to get body composition assessments over and over and over again until it tells me what I want to hear. But again, there can be a lot of variability and percentage error that is baked into those estimations. You know, maybe you have beliefs that have certain body weight will bring this kind of happiness that you’ve been looking for.

And I’ve talked to plenty of people who say that I was finally happy once I got to be this size or this weight. And you know, I think when we stopped to think about it, maybe it’s because you’re feeling better, or you are taking better care of yourself, or something of that nature. A lot of times it’s not because some of the same pressures or stressors that you’ve felt in your life or the things that have been difficult for you have magically resolved.

And in a lot of cases, it sometimes can leave people a little bit more confused or feeling some sort of way, because people only gave them attention once they were smaller. And that can be really hard for people to reckon with. Perhaps you have some body dysmorphia or body dysmorphic disorder.

And if that’s the case, you know, you may want to have some assessments done by a mental health professional and get support on those things. So there can be a lot of reasons why we still continue to put so much emphasis and importance on this scale, even when everything else is better. Everything else is better, or many, many things have improved, we still think Oh, but I’m still not this weight.

Or I’m still not that, that pants size, knowing that clothing sizes are wildly different. And no one else knows what that label says other than you. So there are tons of things we could probably continue to explore here. But I just wanted to go down a list of some of the reasons why even when you’re committed to getting stronger and building muscle, and you’re on this quote-unquote, journey, and you realize you need to eat more and fuel better, and pay attention to your recovery and not overtrain.

And you’re feeling better. But like why is this scale still a thing? Why does it still haunt you? Why is it still that you could step on that scale? And it does everything that’s going well, it’s complicated, right? Hashtag. It’s complicated. Like we’re in some kind of Facebook relationship status. But it really is complex.

And there are, of course, so many things that play into this, for example, if you are someone who lives in a larger body, and you’ve experienced firsthand being marginalized. So I just wanted to bring up some of the different reasons why I think you might notice that this continues to be a thing for you. And regarding the diet culture piece, we have this conversation quite a bit inside strength nutrition unlocked. Because, yes, it is a program to help women athletes get stronger, but we’re not immune to living in a diet, culture, and continuing.

What to Focus on Instead of Body Weight

Even when we’re improving our relationship with food, or we’re training in a way that’s really smart, or we’re learning about nutrition from a really great place. Sometimes we’re still gonna run into things that make us feel uncomfortable or are difficult to deal with. And you’re a real whole person who is going to bring everything with you when you step into the gym. So what do we focus on instead? I mean, gosh, I think there’s just again, a huge, long list of things that you could look at here. But the one that I’ve seen making the most impact for athletic women is to stop weighing yourself.

Now how you go about that is up to you. Some people decide that they’re going to slowly taper off. Some people decide they’re just going to put the scale out of the bathroom for now or put it in a closet where they can’t as easily see it. This reminds me of my friend Joe, who used to freeze credit cards in a glass in the freezer before we had things like autofill and Shopify, that used to, you know, have to put something in there to wait, you know, he had to wait to let that thing thaw out before he could take it to the store.

Again, this is before you know, you could pay with your face on your phone and all the other things that we have for technology, but sometimes that delay right, the delay of having the scale in the closet versus having it right there in the bathroom is enough of an interrupter to make you stop and think before you automatically do it right. It’s like interrupting the automatic habit.

Some people decide that they’re just gonna go cold turkey, they’re done. I’m not here to tell you which one is right or which one you should do. But I do think that as an athletic woman, relying on weighing yourself less as a metric of your strength as a metric of your improvements in the way that you’re taking care of yourself. And the things that you’re prioritizing are a smart way to move as eventually. But no hate mail here. I’m not saying you have to throw away your scale, it’s just that it doesn’t necessarily tell you about what if anything might need to change, you might just have to take a really big poop, you may be ate something super salty, maybe you’re loading creatine.

And you’re right at the beginning, and you notice the scale is up a little bit, and you’re gonna freak out and stop taking it even though it’s a temporary thing, right? Maybe you are in the second half of your menstrual cycle, you’re in your luteal phase, you’re in the last week of your cycle, and you just are retaining a little bit more water.

There’s tons of reasons why the scale could be higher weights. Remember, weight is just how much gravity is pulling down on your body. It doesn’t give you that much information about what’s quote, unquote, wrong, or if anything is, quote-unquote, wrong. And we have fluctuations from day to day. So even if, even if let’s play the thought experiment, that this scale was a neutral tool for you, which means it doesn’t have any positive or negative association. It’s just a point of data, which there are some people that insist and tell me, it is just a neutral data point.

Why Your Weight Might be Fluctuating

For me, it doesn’t have any meaning. I’m so happy for you. Because that’s not something that’s very common in this world. But that data point still doesn’t tell you very much on an individual day, you would want to be looking more in terms of pattern over time. So weighing yourself daily, it’s just not super useful in terms of looking at broad patterns, and only causes you to further obsess about what you did the day before.

Related to that is remembering, and this is where things get a little, we got to put our thinking caps on. Right? Wait, again, is a combination of things, it’s a combination of our muscle mass, a combination of our bone mass, our fat mass, our hydration status, right, potentially even like our carbohydrate repletion.

So if we’re using a lot of carbohydrates in our training, potentially with that as well, because that’s also associated to water status, remembering that if you’re just stepping on the scale, and you’re like, Oh, I just need to lose x pounds. We don’t want to lose muscle mass ever. Never, ever, ever do we want to just purposely start losing muscle mass.

Okay, so most of the women I know are not carrying an excessive amount of muscle mass, to begin with. And then we’re going into our 40s, we’re losing the signal from estrogen as an anabolic driver of muscle growth, muscle satellite cells, and all that happy stuff. So remember that we don’t want to lose muscle mass, it’s incredibly important for longevity, and it’s incredibly important for function. So just stepping on the scale and thinking I need to go down x pounds. If we’re losing muscle, this is not a good deal.

Okay, we don’t want to lose muscle mass, we also don’t want to lose bone mass, for obvious reasons, putting us at increased risk for osteoporosis, especially as women because we are at higher risk, again, because of the loss of estrogen. And we are also more susceptible to significant breaks, like bone breaks, fractures, hip breaks, and the mortality rate associated with that is incredibly high. One out of two, if you break a hip, one out of two, okay, in terms of mortality rate, it’s very serious. So we don’t want to lose bone mass.

And we don’t want to end up dehydrated. So one of the biggest reasons people fail like a low-carb diet does them a lot of amazing things at the beginning as they see the scale, weight can go down quite fast at the very start because you’re taking less carbohydrate, which means that you’re storing less glycogen, which is associated with water molecules. If you’re an athletic person, especially if you’re doing workouts that have intensity, meaning you’re lifting weights, you’re doing hit training, even in endurance training.

We need glycogen in order to supply enough fast energy. Yes, we also make energy from our fat stores from the oxidation of fat, but it’s a much slower process and it’s not fast enough to keep up with the demand of your intense training. So dehydrating yourself and losing water in order to see the scale go down just doesn’t make sense.

It’s just not a good deal for you as an athletic person. And we don’t want to get dehydrated, just in general in terms of health and well-being. So we need to keep that in perspective. And sometimes, if you’re trying to gain muscle mass, you may see a slight increase a slight associated increase in your body fat, you’re adding mass. And to Soul, purely adding it as just muscle mass is a little unrealistic. So you might see a very slight increase, for example, in body fat percentage. But does this mean something is wrong or bad? No.

How to Keep Scale Weight in Perspective

So we have to keep these things in perspective. Alright, so remember, weighing yourself less removing the scale from your environment, keeping things in perspective, and remembering that gaining muscle mass is going to be a benefit for you. In the short, and in long term, it’s going to have to compound positive benefits. And then, of course, the associated changes that we get in bone strength.

So incredibly important, this is not just an aesthetics game anymore, right? We’re in our 40s 50s 60s and beyond, we need to move past just thinking about do we look. Shredded? Do I look skinny, this is literally high stakes. This is life, this is longevity, this is being able to live independently, move freely, et cetera, there’s a lot at stake. Right.

So just seeing it from an aesthetic lens is only seeing a very small part of the picture. And then also, I would recommend that you start keeping track of or thinking about some of these other things. Now you don’t have to do all of them. But maybe you also pay attention to and you literally write it down because you need to see it written in black and white, or else your brain is going to go into fear mode.

You’re going to freak out. And then you’re going to do something like cutting your food way, way back. Because you’re going into that response, right? So here are other things you can focus on your muscle mass, are you adding muscle mass? Are you seeing a change in muscle shape? Are you seeing a change in muscle size? Those things can indicate muscle hypertrophy, which is a really great thing. And when I say hypertrophy, no, I don’t mean like a comp of somebody who is competing in the Olympia, right in bodybuilding.

Summarizing Why You Should Considering Tossing the Bathroom Scale

In order to look like that, you’d have to do a lot of very, very specific things of 99% of people listening to this podcast would never do. So muscle growth or gain, right? Are we seeing an increase in strength, you need to write down your strength numbers, you need to write down your training, or have it written somewhere. Because you’re going to have those days where you think nothing is changing, I’m not getting any stronger. See, I knew this thing wasn’t going to work. See, I knew I should just cut back to reducing my carbs way back again, right?

You’re going to those things that are going to happen and you need proof in front of you. You need to see the numbers and how they’ve changed over time and have them right in front of you in black and white. Are you sleeping better? What’s your sleep quality? And quantity? Are your energy levels better? What on a scale of one to 10? What is your energy like on an average day? What is the quality of your energy like? Or do you have pretty consistent sustained energy throughout the day? Or does a workout wipe you out for five days?

Can you wake up in the morning without hitting snooze seven times? And then having a pot of coffee as big as you write? Those sorts of things? So what is your energy level? What are your what is your focus like?

Mentally being able to kind of focus on work or the task at hand, right? Maybe you’re working on learning a new skill or trying something new, you can focus on that. There are so many things that you can keep your attention on in terms of how are things going, and what is improving. What can you quote unquote, keep track of I hear that from a lot of people. I just need to keep track of something or else I’m going to stop with all my habits. There are lots of different things that you can think about, instead of just keeping track of your body weight on the scale. I hope that this episode has given you some things to think about in regard to why athletic women should consider not weighing themselves anymore.

Remember that when you’re fueling yourself better lifting heavier and recovering smarter. You begin to have more energy, see more muscle definition in size, see improvements in your performance and your energy, your moods and so much more. But because weight and being at a low body weight is still often prized in certain sports, and by society at large, there can be pressure to conform and look a certain way. And, by extension, end up changing our habits back to ones that make us feel less good, perform less good, and keep us stuck on the struggle with the scale. I’m hoping this gave you some perspective and some things to think about.

So please go ahead and share this episode on social media. It really helps if you share it on Instagram stories and tagged me. Also, hit Subscribe on your podcast app and consider supporting the show by telling a friend or loved one about this episode, or one of your favorites. You can also get the show notes for this episode at StephGaudreau.com.

And while you’re there, if you’re curious about getting support as an athletic woman over 40, towards the strength, the energy in the performance that you really want and you know you’re capable of then go ahead and book a call with the team and we’ll talk with you to see if it’s a great fit. You can do that at StephGaudreau.com/apply Thanks so much for being here with me today on this episode. I hope it made you think a little bit and know that it’s all coming from a place of love. Thanks so much. I’ll see you next week. And until then, stay strong.

Share this post

Steph Gaudreau

Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau (CISSN, NASM-CPT)!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


Build muscle, strength & power AND take all the guesswork out of your workout with this 3x weekly written-for-you dumbbell strength program.


Strength Nutrition Unlocked

For athletic women 40+ who want to get stronger, build muscle, boost energy, and perform better. Implement evidence-backed strategies to fuel, train, and recover smarter with the support & accountability you need.

free workout program