You have just embarked on your fat loss and fitness journey, killing your workouts in the gym, eating great, your friends are telling you how well you are looking and you’re feeling a whole lot better about yourself…you then jump on the scales and the number staring back at you isn’t what you expected; this leaves you feeling deflated, frustrated and questioning everything which have been doing. Ring any bells? You are not alone that’s for sure.
Motivation is a key success factor in fat loss, and there is no bigger motivation killer than the scales not moving. But I want to explain to you in this post why it shouldn’t be the only factor that you base your progress and happiness on.
Five Reasons why you shouldn’t rely on just the scales to assess progress
1)Muscle is denser than Fat
You may have heard people say over and over again that muscle weighs more than fat, it doesn’t; muscle weighs the same as fat; 1lb of fat = 1lb of muscle. However as muscle is denser than fat it takes up less room in the body. Although the scale may have stayed the same, your body composition may have completely changed and you will look noticeably different in the mirror, your lumps and bumps will have been replaced with some smooth muscle tone instead. So when you begin a new weights routine at the gym with the aim of building some muscle, don’t be freaked out if the scales even go up a little bit, you may have lost 4 lbs of fat but gained 4 lbs of muscle in the process, you look and feel tons better yet that little number is telling you that you have stayed the same. Not cool.
2) Your weight will fluctuate day to day depending on many different factors
The scales measure your total bodyweight, which takes into account muscle, fat, water, bone etc. If you weigh yourself one week at 7am just after waking when you are dehydrated and have been in a fasted state for 10hours and then the following week you do so just before bed after consuming 3 litres of water and 4 meals that day, the readings are bound to be different. This is not a consistent accurate measurement. If you are insistent on tracking your scale weight, I recommend that you do so every morning when you wake up and once you have been to the toilet, write it down and then at the end of each week work out the weekly average in order to gage how you are getting on.
Bodyweight will be affected by how much water you drink; how much salt you had in your meals; how many carbs you have eaten; how stressed you are; how well did you sleep; amongst many other different contributing factors which are simply out of our control.
3) It doesn’t define you as a person
Nobody can tell from looking at you how much you weigh, so why do we place such importance on such an insignificant number. You will hear people say all the time; ‘I will be happy when I reach 10stone’, does that mean that they wont be happy if they are 10stone 1lb yet look incredible in the mirror? A number shouldn’t reflect your own self worth and happiness, so don’t place such importance on it. Nobody cares what you weigh, they only care about what you are like as a person.
4) Other methods to track progress can be a better marker of your health and fitness journey
I always take body measurements and progress photos of myself and my clients as a method of tracking progress. Take a set of photos every month, front, back and side, in the same lighting at the same time of day and compare. It is important not to simply rely on the mirror, because as we look at ourselves everyday it is hard to see any changes which are taking place even from week to week, but if you look back on what you looked like a month ago…the differences will be much more visible and gratifying.
Taking measurements goes back to my initial point of muscle being denser than fat, your scales may have stayed the same but if your waist and hip measurements have gone down a couple of inches then that is certainly positive progress which you should be ecstatic about!
How your clothes fit is also a great way of knowing how you are getting on. What feels better, the scales saying you have gone down a pound or being able to fit into your favourite pair of jeans without doing some sort of weird wriggle dance to zip them up? I know which one I would rather choose.
5) The number on the scales doesn’t measure everything
That little number doesn’t show:
- that you can now row 200m without stopping whereas before you struggled with 50m
- that you can now squat with an Olympic Barbell across your back confidently when you had no idea what a squat even was 4 weeks ago
- that your favourite dress is now too loose for you to wear
- that you managed your first set of 5 full press ups yesterday
- that your work colleagues complimented you on how well you are looking
- that you now can go and run about without your kids at the park without getting breathless
- that your blood pressure has decreased from the danger zone into the normal zone
- that you are a happier and more confident person
Fitness isn’t just a number, it encompasses a whole range of things in regards to your health and wellbeing. So if you are finding yourself focusing all your results on one little number changing, take a moment and look at how far you have come in other aspects of your life, chances are you have come a lot further than you first thought.
Love Abi xxx
*Disclaimer* I am not going to lie and say that the scales are completely useless. They are certainly a good progress indicator if your goal is fat loss, muscle gain or even just maintenance, but they should be used in conjunction with other qualitative and quantitative measurements for a truer reflection on how you are getting on…