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I’ve been putting off doing this review for a little while now. I can give you a list of excuses, or I can tell you the real reason:
This is a review of a scale, and scales make me nervous.
Scales and I have a long history together, and while I’ve more or less come to terms with my bathroom scale, I still feel that familiar wave of apprehension before stepping on a new one.
Self-talk. (“The number you’re about to see does not define you as a person, Sharon!”)
And about that number. Before I proceed with the review, let’s get this out of the way, shall we? I know that I don’t have a weight problem. I’ve never been overweight. I’ve never been underweight either. I don’t have an eating disorder. But like many women (and men), I struggle with my body image. Body image has nothing to do with your actual weight or appearance. Rather, it’s “how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind.” (source: nationaleatingdisorders.org)
That means that when I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t necessarily see what you see when you look at me. It also means that the number on my scale sometimes carries a lot more weight (figuratively) than it should. My point? Negative body image doesn’t discriminate.
What is a Digital Body Fat Scale?
I’d love to write more about this subject down the road – it’s actually one of my clinical areas of expertise (that sounds fancy, no?). But for now let’s get to the matter at hand – the Surpahs Digital Body Fat Scale.
If you’ve never tried a body fat scale, you should – it’s a great way to monitor your fitness level. It measures your weight, of course, but it also measures your body fat, the amount of water in your body, your muscle mass, and your bone mass. It uses bio-electrical impedance analysis (a tiny electrical current that passes through your body) to estimate your body composition.
My husband and I periodically get measured on the professional grade Tanita scale at our gym. It’s a multi-thousand dollar body composition scale that has to be operated by one of the gym’s personal trainers – so we were both looking forward to having a smaller scale that we could use as often as we like, and in the privacy of our own bathroom.
Surpahs Digital Body Fat Scale
The Surpahs scale is much thinner than my regular digital bathroom scale. It’s less than 1 inch tall and weighs around 4 pounds. I selected the white model, but it also comes in black.
The scale requires a bit of programming, so it doesn’t work straight out of the box, but set-up is easy and only takes a few minutes. The scale estimates your body composition based on your own personal profile, which includes your gender, age, height, activity level, and weight. And it saves your profile (for up to 8 people), so you only need to enter your personal info once.
I recommend reading through the instruction manual before stepping on the scale. There are some people who shouldn’t use this type of device (e.g., pregnant women, children, women with implanted birth control, and others). There are also some considerations that can help maximize the accuracy of your reading (e.g., bare feet are required, but slightly damp feet are better).
How It Works
The body fat scale has 4 display screens. After it calculates your results, it will display each screen for 2 seconds. It will repeat your results 3 times, and then it will shut off automatically. The scale won’t save your results, so if you want to analyze and/or document the results, you’ll need to write the numbers down or snap a photo of each screen as it displays. The instruction manual includes charts to help you analyze each measurement.
Screen #1 – weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), and body fat percentage
Screen #2 – total body water (TBW)
Screen #3 – muscle mass
Screen #4 – bone mass
Getting back to body image for a moment – I think many of us, especially those of us who are particularly focused on fitness and/or weight loss, measure ourselves in comparison to other people, or to a set of standards or ideals. But the thing is, we sometimes make erroneous assumptions about what a “fit” person should be like. (Hello, fitspo. I’m looking at you.)
I’m a “fit” person. I run marathons. I exercise a minimum of 3-4 days a week. I have an active lifestyle. I watch what I eat (kind of). And my body composition might surprise you. So I’m thinking that maybe if I tell you what the body fat scale says about me, it might give a more realistic breakdown of a “fit” body.
So here goes. First, I set up my profile on the Surpahs Body Fat Scale. I am 39 years old and 5 feet and 0.5 inches tall. And since my resting heart rate is about 71 bpm, I set the scale up using the standard female profile. (There is also an “athlete mode,” which can be used for individuals with a resting heart rate of 60 bpm and who do 10+ hours of aerobic activity.) Next, I weighed myself on my bathroom scale, and then on the body fat scale, and there was only a 0.6 pound difference between the two.
Screen #1 – 113.6 pounds and 24.2% body fat. Based on my age and gender, my body fat is in the normal range. The Surpahs Scale does not give a numerical reading for BMI, which is really the only thing about the scale that I don’t like. Rather than a number, it displays a symbol, which denotes whether you are “under fat”, “healthy”, “overfat”, or “obese.” My BMI indicates that I am “healthy.”
Screen #2 – My total body water is 55%. TBW is influenced by body fat percentage. This means that based on my gender and body fat, my TBW should be between 52-58%. I’m smack in the middle of the normal range.
Screen #3 – My muscle mass is 31.8%. For women, normal muscle mass falls between 28-39%. (For men, it’s between 38-54%.) I’m normal again, but on the low end.
Screen #4 – My bone mass is 5 pounds. Based on my weight (between 110-165 pounds), it should be about 5.3 pounds. That means that mine is a little low, but my weight is so close to 110 (and is sometimes below it), and for women less than 110 pounds, bone mass should be 4.3 pounds. So I guess it works out to about average.
In a Nutshell
To summarize my body composition in one word – I am AVERAGE. I’m fit, thin, and strong, and my body is completely average. Try to remember that the next time you go to compare yourself to someone at the gym or to fitspo. And I’m writing this as much for you as for me – because I need to remember it too.
Now, back to the scale. Like I said, scales and I don’t always see eye to eye. But as far as scales go, I really like this one. Is it 100% accurate? I don’t know. But it’s a fantastic way of monitoring my fitness on a routine basis – not so much by the actual numbers, but by increases and decreases in percentages. I especially love the convenience of using this scale in the privacy of my own bathroom whenever I want, versus having to hunt down a personal trainer at the gym.