The Dreaded Scale
That little thing we stand on that tells us how much weight we bear on the earth.. and is somehow (in many of our minds) tied to how well we’re doing with health and fitness, or maybe even our self worth!
Why has the scale turned into something that controls us and makes us feel terrible about ourselves if the number is not what we want or expect it to be?
By the end of this blog, I hope to have changed that perspective for you.
Working on improving your health, fitness and even body composition is a wonderful thing! It’s great to have goals and to work hard towards achieving them.
And the best way to track your progress is to actually have something measurable so that you can objectively see your results.
It just so happens, that the most accessible tracking device is a scale.
Weight goes up? Bad
Weight goes down? Good!
You see, there are so many factors that will make your weight go up and down, and as a fitness professional, I am trained to analyze results to determine what may be the cause of a gain or a loss, and help you reach your desired result (regardless of what that number reads)
There are a handful of tools that can help paint a better picture of what’s actually happening.
My favourite of all the tools are the Harpenden Callipers. These callipers allow me to estimate body fat percentage, which tells me more about your body composition than the number on the scale. These aren’t accessible to everyone, so I always recommend tracking using things like photos and circumference measurements, along with the scale, to track progress.
It’s important to look at the whole picture, including the number on the scale. Don’t attach too much emotion to that number. Treat it as a tool that you can use to track progress, and get informed about why your number may be going up or down
Here are some possible scenarios that may make your weight go up:
- Excess salt or sugar intake will hold onto water in your body making you heavier
- Menstruating (also holding more water and inflammation)
- Muscle mass increase (this one takes time and will not make your weight increase overnight, but can slowly make your number creep up if your body is becoming more densely packed with muscle)
- Constipation (fecal matter not being eliminated)
- A full day of eating (if you step on at the end of the day)
Here are some possible scenarios that may make your weight go down:
- Fat loss
- Muscle loss
How often should I step on the scale?
Part of the problem is we are stepping on the scale too much, morning and night and beating ourselves up for every little change. Our weight will go up and down based on the above, so to track real progress, I would step on the scale weekly, on the same day, right after you wake and have your bowel movement.
If you find that you have a negative relationship with your scale, start with a monthly weigh-in, and use other tools to track on the same day every month like a measuring tape, clothing, photos, and journaling!
So when we start to think of the scale as something that is just ONE tool among many factors, it starts to lose its importance, doesn’t it?
If you have a fat loss goal, then yes, ultimately the scale should be decreasing over time, but it may not be so linear, day to day.
If you are working out and putting on muscle mass, then your weight loss may look slow, even though your fat is decreasing and your body composition is changing.
The point is, although the scale can be a useful tool, it is most useful when used in conjunction with other measurement tools to give you a bigger picture of your health and fitness.
If you are unsure of how to track your progress properly, I always recommend working with someone who can coach you through it! I’d always happy to chat if you have more questions!