I used to be one of those people that freaked out if the scale went up a pound or didn't move at all. If you've ever tried to lose weight you've probably let the number on the scale dictate your success. I'd review my food journals, make sure to weigh all my food and eat perfectly, only to hold my breath until the very next morning as I stepped onto the scale. As the number lit up, I allowed it to tell me if I was a failure or not and let it set my mood for the day. This is no way to live and it's definitely not a healthy behavior.
While the scale is one way to measure progress it's not the only one and here's why:
- Your weight can go up or down every day depending on your diet, age, sex, workouts, hormones, hydration… almost anything. A 2-3 pound fluctuation each day is completely normal and isn’t a big deal. One pound is equal to 3500 calories – so ask yourself – did you really eat an extra 3500+ calories yesterday? My guess is that you probably didn’t.
- The scale doesn’t just weigh fat, it weighs bone, water, organs, muscle, and more. When you step on that scale and see a fluctuation there’s no real way to tell exactly what’s changed in your body.
- The scale doesn’t measure your health and fitness level or your metabolic activity. For example, foods break down differently; some take 2 hours to digest while others take 20.
Here are 6 alternate ways to measure your progress (and keep your sanity):
- Use a Tape Measure: Take weekly measurements and record your progress. Muscle is more dense than fat and although the scale numbers may not be decreasing, your waistline may be.
- Take Photos: Take bi-weekly or monthly pictures wearing the same clothing in the same positions. These pictures will help you see the changes in your body that you may not notice on a daily basis.
- Do The Closest Test: Pick a pair of jeans and try them on weekly. You know you’re doing something right when they start to get loose!
- Listen to Friends & Family: It’s said that it takes 4 weeks for you to see changes in your body, 8 weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for everyone else. If people are taking notice of the changes in your body and sharing them with you then take that as a great measurement of your progress.
- Check Your Workout Endurance & Progress: Are you able to do more push ups now than you were 30 days ago? Can you reach your toes now? Are you doing 15 instead of 12 reps per set? All of these are great ways see that your body is changing, getting stronger, and making progress.
- Ask Yourself How You Feel: Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping more sound? Do you seem happier throughout the day? All of these changes mean that you are doing more positive things to your body and that’s a win in anyone’s book.
Scales are a great tool to have in your toolbox, just don't make it the only one. If you are making better food choices and staying active everyday then you are already headed in the right direction!