Reasons Why the Scale isn’t Always the Answer…
Has this ever happened to you?
You have changed your eating habits, been training consistently and rocking your sleep schedule but… you haven’t lost any weight! In fact, you might have even gained weight!! That feeling of accomplishment immediately turns into disappointment. You start to wonder why you put in all that work. What was the point?
The point is: That scale is only one way to track and it isn’t alway the most accurate way of telling the story.
Have you ever heard the term “muscle weighs more than fat?” Well, that is partially true. Of course 5 pounds of muscle weigh the same as 5 pounds of fat but the truth is, muscle is much more dense than fat, meaning it appears smaller. The scale has no way of telling you that you have lost fat (usually our goal) and gained muscle.
Your weight can fluctuate up to 5 or 6 pounds throughout the day. The more water that your body holds, the more you are going to weigh. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you “gained weight”. This can happen after consuming a large amount of sodium. It can happen after a tough/intense workout the day before (exercise creates inflammation in the body and your body uses water to help repair your broken down muscle tissue). You can, also, retain water after eating a carb dense meal. Carbohydrates that are not immediately used as fuel are stored in the body as glycogen (every gram of glycogen holds 3 g of water) to be used as energy when your body needs it. In addition to these, women tend to hold onto more water around their menstrual cycle and typically drop the water weight after.
Although the scale is one way to measure, fixating on the number may cause unhealthy stress and occasionally disorders. Almost 30 million Americans (all ages and genders) fall victim to some sort of eating disorder. Now, not every person who steps on the scale is obsessed with their weight, but it is a common problem, and needs combatting.
Other Measurements to Track to show Progress
- The InBody Scale. The InBody scale is a non-invasive body composition analysis that provides a detailed breakdown of your weight in terms of muscle, fat, and water on an Inbody Result Sheet. And you’re in luck… we have one of these at the gym for members to use. The Inbody gives us a better understanding of what your body is made up of, how much of your total weight is lean mass and how much of it is body fat. It is a good tool to better explain the numbers (your weight) and to set goals around.
- Progress Pictures and Circumference Measurements. Have you ever had someone tell you that you look great, that it looks like you have lost weight, when YOU haven’t noticed a change at all? Typically this happens when someone hasn’t seen you in a while but we, on the other hand, see ourselves in the mirror everyday. Taking pictures (weekly/monthly) and measurements can show progress over time. We can look back at the pictures and see how much our bodies have changed since the beginning. Also, you can track measurements (waist, hips, thighs, arms, neck) and see where your body has gotten smaller or where you have “lost” weight/body fat.
- Journaling and/or Creating New Habits. With journaling, we can track how you are feeling, your energy levels, your happiness. These are all things that are equivalent to success and health. Maybe you have changed your habits and have been getting a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep every night, or maybe you have cut down on junk food, started eating more veggies. The scale isn’t going to tell us a story about our health, it's just going to throw out a “meaningless” number. Getting more sleep, eating better, managing your stress are all signs of success that should not be overlooked, these too, make you healthier and can change the way you look and feel.
- Track your steps or daily activity. Most people nowadays have some sort of smart watch that tracks these numbers for them but you can also use something like a pedometer or even just a traditional calendar. You can set small goals like taking a walk everyday or to move for 30 minutes a day. You can get steps and activity in other ways too. Instead of taking the elevator, make it a habit to take the stairs. Park your car farther away at the grocery store or market. Bike to work or walk to get coffee on a weekend morning. Small daily wins= greater success down the road. A body in motion will stay in motion!!
- Benchmark Testing or Fitness Assessments. We do quarterly testing at the gym and, also, test other benchmark workouts throughout the year. It is important for you to keep track of these numbers and revert back to them when we test again. Performance is a health marker that is easily tracked. Did you run a mile faster than last month? Did you add 5 pounds to your 5 RM deadlift? How about, have you added 3 reps to your max unbroken pull ups? These all show signs of success that may or may not affect the number shown on the scale.
Although the scale can be a way to measure weight and success, don’t let it be the only number you track. Remember the number never tells the whole story…