Why should we stay off the scale??
You’ve heard it before: Stay off the scale. The number doesn’t define you. The number doesn’t reflect actual changes in your body. You shouldn’t weigh each day. If you do weigh, pick the same time of day to stay consistent. Muscle weighs more than fat.
We know this. Or at least have heard it mentioned time and again. So why do so many of us step on the scale each morning? I’ve heard so many reasons to this, several being, “I want to make sure I am on the right track.” While yes, that is the perfect reason to be tracking your weight, there are actually so many more things that you should be focusing on in the beginning of your fitness and weight loss journey to track progress. Here are just a few:
1. Measurements- Weighing each day only tracks normal body fluctuations and can often give us a distorted view of changes happening. (spoiler alert, even if you are losing weight, there will be some days of the week where weight goes up and down. It’s hydration, hormones, food intake, time of day etc. Sorry!). So swap out the scale for a tape measure, especially when you’re just getting started into a new health routine. This allows you to see how many inches you are losing and how your body is actually changing shape. (Same idea as paying attention to how your clothes fit.)
2. Focus on body fat %- This is especially for those of you going for that “last 5-10 pounds”. The closer you are to your goal weight and those of you performing strength training may never hit the “number” you’re going for. Why? Because muscle weighs more than fat and takes up much less space in the body. So you may be losing body fat% and inches (which is our goal!!), but the number on scale may actually go up a couple pounds and that’s OK!! Focus on measuring body fat % the closer you get to your goals versus weight on the scale. This will let you know how lean you’re getting and how healthy you are, which should always be the focus!
3. Performance- When is the last time you jotted down your mile or 5k time? Tracked how much weight you were lifting in the gym? All of these things are example of tracking performance. AND performance in the gym will happen much sooner than you think when you’re sticking to your gym habits. (These can also occur much sooner than hitting large weight loss goals). So using these as markers for progress and success, can keep you motivated along the way and help you keep returning to the gym each day which in turn will help with managing your weight in the long run. Not to mention, build lean muscle mass which also aids in weight loss over time. Plus- there is nothing better than doing something that you could not do before! It’s addicitng!
4. Track your food- Want to measure something each day? Measure your food! Tracking food and macro’s is just as important (if not more) than tracking your workout progress. Focusing on meal prep and planning along your journey and hitting the gym most days should be your main focus and not hopping on the scale. Habits need to be consistent over a period of time for our body to start making changes. This can be frustrating if your constantly weighing early on in your journey and not seeing changes. Don’t worry- that’s normal. But this act will only lead to decreased motivation to keep eating healthy and exercising. So stick with your habits and track your food for a while before hopping on the scale!
5- Take progress photos- Take pics when you start and along the journey. Similar to measurements, you will be able to have an objective view of your body changing over time. We are so hard on ourselves and often see the same thing in the mirror over and over, even when others may be noticing our changes. So take pics and compare them! This can especially be great to see muscle mass changes when the scale isn’t really moving.
Yes, tracking weight will be apart of the process in the long run. But weighing each day and not seeing real changes can lead to decreased motivation and cause people to give up on their habits way too soon. Not giving their bodies enough time to actually change. So stick with your routine and use some of these other options to track progress, especially in the first 3 months of a new routine. That number looking back at you will never tell you the whole story, so don’t let it be the only thing you use to define your progress. Hang in there and ask for support when needed!!! For more info check out our weekly Q&A videos from September on Facebook as we discussed our No Scale September challenge!!! Join us weekly for Q&A Wednesays at 3pm CDT for tons of health topics, live Q&A and shenanigans LOL.