Don’t listen to the scale (most of the time). When it comes to tracking your fitness goals, many people rely on the scale as their go-to form of measurement. But what if we told you that the numbers you see on that little machine don’t tell the whole story? Let’s take a look at why relying solely on the scale can be detrimental to your overall health and fitness goals.
The Scale Doesn’t Show Everything
The scale only measures one thing—your body weight—and even then it can be inaccurate. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you are building muscle mass and toning up, your number could be going up rather than down. That doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress; it just means that you need to look at other forms of measurement in order to get an accurate picture of where you are in terms of your fitness journey.
Also, our bodies are mostly water. For men, about 60% of their bodies are made up of water. For women that number is 55%. The amount of water in our bodies fluctuates constantly. That means you can weigh yourself one day and then weigh yourself the next and see radically different numbers on the scale just from water weight fluctuations that have nothing to do with how well your diet is going or how much you are working out.
Weighing Yourself Too Often Is Counterproductive
If you weigh yourself multiple times throughout the day, chances are you won’t like the results very much because our bodies fluctuate in weight all day long due to factors such as hydration levels, food intake, and activity level. This can lead to feelings of discouragement which can put a damper on your motivation and enthusiasm for continuing with healthy changes. It is better to focus on long-term progress rather than short-term gains or losses.
Weighing yourself too often also has been shown to have a negative impact on mental health and self-esteem. We get wrapped up in hoping to see the number on the scale change. We’ve worked hard, we are eating right, we are exercising and making the right choices. It sometimes feels like a sacrifice and a massive challenge so we hope to see that reflected on the scale. When it doesn’t happen, it can have a serious impact on how we feel about ourselves. If you are under a doctor’s care and they recommend more regular weigh-ins, follow their instructions. Otherwise, try a monthly check-in on the scale to cut down on the times you put yourself through that experience.
Look Beyond the Scale
There are so many other ways to measure progress that don’t involve stepping onto a scale! Take photos of yourself regularly (or try out an app like Progressify), track your measurements using a tape measure, try some body composition tests, like DEXA scans (like we have at Upgrade Group Training), or simply track how different clothes fit over time. If you want to use the scale, make sure it is not the only way that you measure progress; combine its use with other methods for a more holistic approach.
You don’t even need to have fancy watches or tracking programs to measure progress. Here are some quick and easy ways where you don’t listen to the scale, but listen to your body instead to track progress:
- How do you feel? Getting more fit will help your overall feeling with more energy, better sleep, and improved mental health.
- How do your clothes fit? Even if the scale isn’t moving, you might notice your clothes starting to fit differently.
- You start looking forward to working out. It takes time to develop the habit, but if you stick to it, you’ll start to look forward to it.
- You are getting stronger. You can do more than when you first started. A sure sign that your scale can’t tell you that your fitness is improving.
At the end of the day, like we said at the start, don’t listen to the scale. Relying too heavily on numbers from a scale can set us up for disappointment which puts us further away from achieving our goals. While scales are useful tools when used properly in combination with other methods of measurement, they should not be our main source of tracking progress—and definitely not our source of motivation! Remember that everyone progresses differently; there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to getting healthy and fit so focus on what works best for YOU! Try out different strategies until you find one that resonates with both your lifestyle and values; this will help keep you motivated and give you tangible results along your fitness journey. Good luck!