I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people talk about their weight and how much anxiety is associated with what the bathroom scales say. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, seeing the number on the scales can lead to reactions of happiness and excitement, or sheer frustration, disappointment and loss of motivation. Many people have a ‘goal weight’ – but how often do you stop and ask yourself what this ‘goal weight’ actually means?
SCALE WEIGHT DEFINED
Essentially, your weight is the sum total of all the skin, bone, tissues, water, fat, muscle and other substances that make up your body. Not to mention the food and drink that is amid its journey through your digestive system. When we get on the scales though, most of us think only about the fat component – which is probably why we react negatively to weight gain. However, your weight can change for any number of reasons. For example, you may have a little fluid retention (perhaps from not drinking enough water the day before or from eating salty foods), or perhaps for those females out there, it could be related to where you are in your menstrual cycle.
An additional factor that has a major effect on your scale weight is the amount of muscle you possess. If you perform weight training and focus on using nutrition to gain lean muscle mass, your body will get leaner and more defined. Your body fat levels will reduce and your clothes will start to feel a whole lot looser. This positive change in body shape however, is most likely not going to be associated with a drop in your scale weight as you will be gaining muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. In fact, you may even find that as you get smaller, your scale weight actually increases. Clearly your scale weight is an extremely crude measurement of where you’re at with your fat loss goals.
DRAWBACKS OF FOCUSING ON SCALE WEIGHT
The primary problem with weighing yourself too often and placing too much emphasis on the number you see on the scale is its effect on your motivation. Say you have been eating carefully, exercising regularly and getting adequate rest. Then you jump on the scales full of pride at how good you’ve been and to your horror, the number is actually HIGHER than it was before. Confusion, anger and disappointment will kick in and your motivation levels may drop to an all-time low. You might think you need to change your training and healthy eating regime entirely or you may simply want to give up. What’s the point in trying so hard and putting so much effort into losing weight if it’s all going to be a waste of time anyway? Surely it’s just easier to abandon your healthy eating and regular exercise and revert back to your old and simple unhealthy ways. These kind of thoughts are completely normal if you’re judging your body shape by your scale weight only and they are also a sign that you need some different tools to measure your progress.
TOOLKIT FOR MEASURING PROGRESS
There are various other ways of measuring your progress that are not only more accurate, but also much more liberating. Here are my top picks:
1. Measuring yourself with a tape measure
2. Taking progress photos
3. Getting regular body composition DEXA scans
4. Focusing on how you feel energy and strength wise
All of these methods are much more accurate indicators of progress and the results will be truly indicative of your changes in body shape.
It’s time to liberate yourself from the scales and stop stressing about that massively misleading number. Focus your energy on accurate indicators of progress and you’ll see your weight loss goals and motivation levels move forwards together.