I am a firm believer that when it comes to out health and fitness goals, we need to have a way to hold ourselves accountable. When it comes to losing or gaining weight, most of us turn to the scale to give us a way to track our progress. A scale, especially an accurate one, is an awesome tool to use. But, I have seen and heard about too many people getting discouraged when the numbers aren’t moving or are moving in the wrong direction. Here’s my secret; the scale isn’t telling you everything.
A scale that only gives your weight is only telling you part of the story. Not every scale can tell you all of the important measurements that you should be aware of when trying to change your weight. Plus, there are some everyday things that can effect your weight from day to day, or even hour by hour.
What the Scale Isn’t Telling You
One thing that a general scale doesn’t tell you is your body composition. Body composition refers to how much of your body is fatty tissue and how much of it is lean tissue. In this general two component model, lean tissue is not just muscle mass. Instead, it includes everything that is not fatty tissue. This means that it is looking at muscles, organs, bones, skin, and water.
It is important to remember this when you are only using scale measurements to track your weight goals. If you’re trying to lose weight and you see that they numbers on the scale haven’t moved, you shouldn’t get frustrated right away. Without looking at your % body fat and % lean mass, you really won’t know if you’ve been making the progress you want to. Especially if you've made healthy changes to your diet and exercise habits. If you’re losing fatty tissue, but gaining muscle mass, the numbers on your scale may move up, stay the same, or move down. Every body is different and needs different stimuli and a different number of calories to reach its goals.
A scale also can’t tell you if you are noticing changes on your body. Or if others have noticed that your hard work is paying off. If you notice that the waist band on your pants is loser or that you’ve reached the last notch on your belt, that is a success no matter what the scale says. Maybe you’ve moved beyond what your original goal weight was for your leg press, or you can now say “welcome to the gun show” with some muscle to show off.
These are accomplishments. Great accomplishments. And you don’t need the numbers on the scale to be in any certain place to be able to notice these things. Check yourself out in the mirror, take that gym selfie, and smile because you are beautiful and working hard.
Standing on scale also can’t tell you how much healthier, stronger, more energized, more confident, etc. you feel. In fact, it may even be able to convince you otherwise. Maybe you don’t hit that afternoon slump anymore. Or maybe you feel like you could conquer the world after your workout. Noticing emotional and energy related changes from healthy choices is just as important as you physical changes.
What to Focus on Instead
Look into getting a scale that does tell you your body composition and track that instead of weight alone. This is a good idea because it can expose changes in your body that scale weight alone can’t. By tracking body comp you can also figure out if you are giving your body enough energy. If you see %BF going up and %LM going down, but you’re watching what you eat, you may not be eating enough. Learn more by checking out my post about cutting calories to see how this can happen.
Find other numbers to track and focus on than your scale weight. Try using a tape measure to measure your biceps, hips, waist and thighs to get a better picture of your progress. Pay attention to how your clothes fit and when you’re shopping, don’t be afraid to pick up a size down ad see how close you are. You never know, you just might surprise yourself.
Take some time each day to stop and notice how you and you body feel. Lay in bed for a few extra minutes and wiggle your toes, roll your wrists and ankles, flex those hard earned muscles. See how well rested you feel after a good nights sleep on a day with a killer workout. See how much energy you have in the afternoons when you take your walk. Pay attention to how you're feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally and use those positive changes to keep you motivated. Any negative changes? Use those to alter your training schedule, food intake, food choices.
No Grit, No Pearl
Remember what I've shared with you in this post as you continue on your health and fitness journey. When the scale isn't moving the way you want - examine the what to focus on parts of your life and practice your grit. Stand tall and keep working hard. Make changes if you need to, but remember lovely - no grit, no pearl.