For many people, “measurable” is jumping on the bathroom scales every night in the hope of shedding those extra pounds, which sounds reasonable?
The goal was to “lose two stone in six months” so jumping on the scales may seem the best way to determine if you have lost the weight, but I want you to STOP!
Weight on the scales does have its place when used in conjunction with other methods but on its own might be doing you, more harm than good!
So how can we track our performance accurately and healthily?
Healthy Ways to Track Success
Body fat % – For me, this is the most important metric when it comes to tracking and accessing body composition. Your body fat percentage will describe your weight far more accurately than the scales or the BMI. Body fat percentage as the name suggests lets you know what percentage of your weight is fat and which is lean mass (muscle) and checked regularly can show us how these are changing and if we are getting the results we want.
Photographs – Take a before picture and take another photo every month and compare them side by side. Progress photographs are a vital part of tracking your progress and seeing exactly how your body is adjusting to it from every angle.
Clothes – How you feel in and how your clothes fit you will change as your body does. Your clothes can be a great indicator of how your body is changing. When you burn fat clothes will become loose and baggy, and if you are gaining size, clothes will become tight and too small. Make a goal to fit a specific dress size or waist size as opposed to a weight loss goal.
How you feel – As you progress through your fitness regime take time to notice how your energy levels rise, you feel more confident, feel fitter, feel stronger and how much happier you feel as a result. Health and fitness shouldn’t be just about image, how you look and weight on the scale you have so much more you can accomplish.
Performance – This ties in with how you feel, but I often see performance goals getting overlooked! Isn’t getting fitter, being healthier, stronger, faster, more flexible and able, better than just your outward appearance?
All of the above – When it comes to tracking progress, to get an overall and more accurate picture, all of the above methods should be used, including weight on the scales! Weight on the scales does have its place when used in conjunction with other methods but on its own is very limited and does not give us the full picture.
Your weight does not paint the whole picture
Making fitness goals and wanting to change your body, lifestyle and diet are all extremely positive, and weight is a good starting point. However, too many of us focus solely on weight and only think about fitness and body image as a number on the scale.
As a personal trainer I meet many clients and when asked what there number 1 goal is, answer “lose weight” but when you get into it, what they really want to do is to burn fat.
Body fat percentage and even using the words “burn fat” as opposed to weight on the scale and “losing weight” is not only a more accurate measure of what you want to achieve but by using this terminology, you are retraining your brain to focus on what matters.
Scales can lie
Weight on the scales is your total body mass which is made up of muscle, water, bone, hair and fat so the scale can lie.
When you start a fitness regime and step on the scale and see a loss, it is possible, that the weight loss you see is water or even worse muscle which in turn will slow down your fat loss efforts.
When your goal is muscle gain, and you jump on the scale and see the number going up and think “gains” it is very possible that that number is a fat gain and not the types of gains you want.
The big problem with just using the scales is it is impossible to identify what the loss and gain are and even if your progress in the way you want or in an opposing direction.
Outdated weight loss methods
Cardio and dieting has long been seen as the number one way to lose weight and yes, doing these two things together can equal big drops on the scale, but at what cost?
Dieting usually involves cutting out one or more essential energy sources needed by our body and long bouts of cardio result in not only fat loss but muscle loss as well.
So in the short term, the weight on the scale can go down, but as a result, we are reducing lean muscle mass, slowing down our metabolism, starving our body and making it extremely difficult to maintain those results in the long run.
Body Composition is more important
I encourage all clients to lift weights as it will increase lean muscle mass (don’t worry, this will not make you bulky).
Which in turn will speed up the metabolism, burn those extra layers of fat, tone you up, make you feel stronger and straighter and look better but as a result.
The weight on the scales can go up, is that bad “no” yes I said it sometimes “you can look better if you gain weight”.
Think of it like this as you lift weights your lean muscle mass is increasing, and body fat is decreasing, depending on your starting point there may come a time when you’re muscle mass will increase more than your fat loss leading to an increase on the scales but a better, healthier and more aesthetic body composition.
Using the example of 2 stone in six months. Six months is a long time, and our bodies are amazing machines.
Every day of those six months, your body is continually changing, and your weight is fluctuating daily.
Weighing regularly can be as demoralising as it is motivating.
The more you jump on the scale, the more chance you have of being demoralised and even discouraged as regular weighing will show increases some of the time.
Be aware that losing weight takes time and be realistic about how much weight you can healthily lose in your given timeframe.
Just imagine what pressure you are putting on yourself in a day just by knowing in the back of your mind that you will be weighing in that night.
Stress and pressure alone can lead to overeating, lack of sleep and can result in weight gain.
Set your goal, stick to it and be safe in the knowledge that if you do everything right and adhere to the plan, you will get a positive outcome.
Remember a healthy weight loss is 1.5 pounds a week which is 6 pounds a month, so that’s just over nine weeks for a stone.
You are better than the scales
Don’t let a number on a scales define you.
The truth is that there is no ideal weight or ideal body type; the end goal should always be feeling happy and confident in yourself.
The only person you should want to make these changes for are you, to be a happier, stronger, fitter and more confident version of you!
If you need a plan, help with your goal, mindset or nutrition, please feel free to contact me.