We’re Overweight. Fortunately, Weight Is Irrelevant.

For those who live in the Pacific Northwest, KING5 TV, the local NBC affiliate, recently featured a segment on The Smarter Science of Slim. During the segment I said I have a “small wife,” which gave my friends and family lots of ammunition to give me loads of grief :)

But their good-natured joking aside, it caused me to reflect on a subject many of The Smarter Science of Slim readers have recently discussed on chat boards, and that is how to measure success in relation to health and fitness. The discussion invariably comes down to two of the most problematic measurements one can possibly tie to long-term health and fitness: weight and body mass index (BMI).

Let’s consider my “small wife.” She is 5’5” and weighs about 140lbs. This gives her a BMI (body mass index) of ~24. According to that measurement, she is borderline “overweight.” Similarly, at 6’ and 200lbs I have a BMI of ~27, which characterizes me as borderline “obese.”

Here is a snippet of us on our wedding day, bloated BMI’s and all. Perhaps I’m biased, but I believe she manifests the apex of beauty here (and frankly each day I see her smiling face).

The point of sharing this video is to give an example of two people who have a lot of health and fitness work to do based on traditional measurements and to emphasize the following point:

How we measure our health and fitness matters, and we have to do it right.

So to be perfectly clear, as you start living The Smarter Science of Slim: BMI and weight are inaccurate and unhealthy ways to measure success. At best, these measurements distract from what really counts. At worst, they are unhealthy and fattening in the long term. Does any woman walk into a party (or a wedding) wearing a dazzling new dress with a sign around her neck that reads “My BMI is X and I weigh Y pounds?” Of course not. What matters is how well her dress fits, how lovely and elegant she looks, how she feels and the radiance of her smile. And how many of us know someone whose short-term weight loss “success” was soon followed by even more weight gain.

If you want to be successful with The Smarter Science of Slim, get rid of your scale. Feed it to the trash can. Let your kids beat it with a baseball bat. Back over it with your car. What your scale says has nothing to do with how we define success in The Smarter Science of Slim. We’re focused on how you look and feel long term. There are millions of people who weigh a little and look and feel broken, while there are millions more who weigh more and look and feel wonderful.

Why am I so adamant about avoiding this traditional measure of success? First, as we know from The Smarter Science of Slim, being traditional has nothing to do with being correct or useful.

Second, as a measure, it is relatively easy to manipulate. Want to make your scale as happy as possible in 48 hours? Do not eat anything other than diuretics and stimulants and exercise as much as possible while wearing multiple layers of clothes in a hot room. Your body will be malnourished (bad), burn pounds of muscle (bad), shed pounds of water (bad), slow down your metabolism (bad), predispose you storing more fat in the future (bad), and make the scale show a much lower number for a few days (irrelevant).

Third, why worry about weight when there is a measurement that is just as simple and proven to be much more indicative of long-term health and fitness:

The circumference of your waist.

Skip the $99 scale and treat yourself to a 99¢ measuring tape. Many readers have found this to be one of the most difficult steps to fully adopting The Smarter Science of Slim because their baseline of “good” or “success” associated with health and fitness is directly tied to their scale. And it has been that way for their entire lives. I am therefore asking you to immediately stop doing something you have done for as long as you can remember. That is a big request, and I know it.

But making a commitment to stay away from scales for at least three months is critical if you are interested in long-term fat loss and robust health.


Because scales focus us on short-term weight loss instead of long-term fat loss and robust health. If you are a boxer or wrestler who needs to weigh a specific amount for your upcoming match, think short term and evaluate your progress using a scale. However, if you are anyone else, think long term and evaluate your progress with a measuring tape. Using the appropriate timeline and tool to measure your success is so important because The Smarter Science of Slim will always lose to starvation if you look at short-term weight loss because more than 90% of the initial weight lost via traditional quick-fix techniques comes from shedding water and burning muscle. The Smarter Science of Slim does not dehydrate you and develops metabolism-enhancing muscle instead of destroying it.

Give yourself a break from worrying about weight and commit to making the fundamental metabolic change that enables you to look and feel better for the rest of your life while lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
“Overweight” Jonathan and Angela Bailor
(212) 465-3130

PS There’s a lot more on when you can expect meaningful results and how to measure them in the free companion eBook Smarter Success at: http://thesmarterscienceofslim.com/Smarter-Success


23 replies
  1. Sonja
    Sonja says:

    This makes me think of Lou Ferrigno, former Mr. Universe, and the actor who played the Hulk. He mentioned on Celebrity Apprentice last night that at his height of fitness he weighed 300lbs (with 2% body fat). An extreme example for sure, but it highlights your point.

    • Jonathan
      Jonathan says:

      Hey Sonja – Great point. It’s ironic that developing compact muscle tissue is one of the most important things we can do for our long-term health and fitness, but according to the scale it makes us weigh more, so we should avoid it. – Jonathan Bailor

  2. JoAnn
    JoAnn says:

    As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. You and your lovely wife are the picture of health and happiness. Congratulations to you both.

    And yes, many of us have felt broken by the way we look and how much we weigh. It is as much a mental weight as much as any kind of physical weight. I’m not yet ready to give up the scale, but I do have many other ways to measure success. On Valentine’s Day I wore my wedding rings for the first time in about 10 years. I think that was one of the best presents I could have given my husband. Wearing those rings was one of the first things I put on my goal sheet a year ago and it is a pretty amazing way to measure my success.

    Although I am convinced that this is a solid solution to fat loss and a path to real health, there is the unspoken terror of losing this weight only to gain it back and then some. I have been there, done that and I’m not sure I could survive it again. So I want to thank you for supporting people through this process, helping them learn how to be successful and what an appropriate measurement is. It is invaluable.

    • Jonathan
      Jonathan says:

      Hey JoAnn – What powerful words…thank you. Would you mind if I share “On Valentine’s Day I wore my wedding rings for the first time in about 10 years. I think that was one of the best presents I could have given my husband. Wearing those rings was one of the first things I put on my goal sheet a year ago and it is a pretty amazing way to measure my success.” on the SSofS Facebook page…that is just awesome. – Jonathan Bailor

  3. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Absolutely right on! You guys look so amazing.

    On another note, is there a “Smarter Science for Hair Loss”? I’m about your age and I need that pretty bad!

    (Only mentioning this because my wedding is coming up in a few months. I got my fiancee to read your book but my hairline still needs work!)

    • Jonathan
      Jonathan says:

      Hi Kevin – Thank you and I’ll see what we can do with the Smarter Science for Hair Loss since I need it to! For what it’s worth, I’ve been taking Propecia for about six years and it has been quite effective at halting my hair loss…maybe something worth chatting with your Dr. about. Congrats on the wedding! – Jonathan Bailor

  4. Wendy Knudson
    Wendy Knudson says:

    Measurements are a good tool to measure success, but I find that it’s easy to overlook the small changes. I always measure the same sites, and compare the total of all the measurements to previous totals for an overall change. Those small amounts can really add up.

    • Jonathan
      Jonathan says:

      Great point Wendy. I find that measurements every two to four weeks may strike the right balance between accommodating the body’s natural ebbs and flows, and the momentum “short-term” progress can help develop. What do you think? – Jonathan Bailor

  5. Tess
    Tess says:

    WOW!!!! how motivating, loving and generous that you shared this video.Love and happiness, in my opinion, are two MAIN products of wellness.

  6. Wendy Knudson
    Wendy Knudson says:

    I think every 2 to 4 weeks is enough for measurements. I find that since I’ve given up weighing myself, I’m learning to measure success in different ways, as your latest ebook outlines. It’s difficult to be patient sometimes, but I firmly believe I’m going to see results with this approach, which makes it easier.

  7. Phil
    Phil says:

    When my pants wouldn’t stay up without a belt, I figured it was time to weigh myself :) True story.

  8. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    The video is just beautiful. I get what you’re saying about the scale, the tape measure and other measures of loss.

    However, I think everyone has to do this in his or her own way. For me, I feel fantastic whatever I weigh and whatever I look like. I don’t judge myself in these ways so whether I’m 150 or 115 makes not a whit of difference to me. What I’m interested in is being healthy in ways that we can’t define by stepping on a scale, checking our BMI’s or even measuring our waists.

    I realize it’s different for everyone and for some people throwing out the scale absolutely is the right thing to do. For others, weighing themselves is necessary in order for them to stay with the program. The most helpful thing it seems to me is to encourage people as you have done, not to consider any number as proof of success, but to look at what is meaningful to them and aim for that (so if it’s loosening pants, great–if it’s bending over without a spare tire getting the the way, hooray–smaller shoes, yahoo or stepping on the scale and seeing the numbers go down until you reach a goal–fine).

    It’s clear to me now that muscle helps speed up our metabolism and may lead us to weigh more at the end than a goal weight. So what we might want to do is to re-think a goal if we have it. So yes, numbers are just numbers and we certainly can forget about them–if we can. If we can’t or it makes this too hard, the added stress may actually get in the way of what we’re trying to accomplish, so isn’t worth it.

    Personally, my goal is to get to whatever the weight may be where I can eat mostly SANE and maintain my weight with whatever exercises I am routinely willing to do. I have no idea where that weight is, but I imagine at some point I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and instead of losing, I’ll stop. That’s when I’ll know.

    But that’s me!

    Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful video.

  9. Elisa
    Elisa says:

    Alright showoff – your wife is gorgeous and you make a lovely couple! :-)

    I loved the bit about the scale. As a recovering yo-yo dieter, I know what hold that little number can have a on me and my mood. tape measure it is.

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