For far too long many people jump on the scales to see what number jumps back at them. Although picking an arbitrary number for weight loss can be a good starting point (and it’s definitely good to set goals), your scale number certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes, they are valuable as a quantitative tool, and clinically can be useful for tracking progress. However, the number you see when you jump on the scales can either make or break your day and can send you on an unnecessary roller coaster of emotions. I want to encourage you NOT to jump on the scales every day. We are so much more than a number!
In my opinion scales are just a number, there are numerous other ways you can access your current health to see and know if you are in good shape.
The reason I personally don’t weight myself and recommended it my clients is because when you jump on the scales if you see a number you don’t like you immediately create negative self-talk which is often anxiety-fueled, you can also feel upset, disappointment, guilty, ashamed, “fat”. All these feeling affect your nervous system increasing your stress hormones.
If you happen to weight yourself first thing in the morning and suddenly see number you don’t want to see, immediately you then start your day in a negative, unhappy and disappointed way. Do you want this to set the tone the day ahead? If you’ve eaten and exercised particularly well but still see an increase in weight your motivation and drive can plummet, and can leave you feeling lost and confused. This may lead to self-punishment - over exercising, calorie-restriction, or maybe you beat yourself up and binge eat and say nasty things to yourself. All of this caused our body and nervous system so much damage.
Things which affect the scales:
- Did you know that your weight can fluctuate by a few kilos over 24-48 hours? This can be caused by water retention, hormones, change in bowel motions, what you ate, how much water/fluid you’ve consumed, if there was sodium in your foods, what kind of clothing you’re wearing, what time of day you weight yourself.
- Muscle weights more than fat. If you’ve been exercising i.e. lifting weights and doing resistance training more, more than likely you’ve put on more muscle and lost fat.
Don’t let the scales define you! And, don’t get caught up in the numbers game and compare yourself to others. Social media is terrible for this, often you see people post what their weight is, they may look a picture of health but you don’t really know what’s going on in their world, what they are eating, what supplements they are taking, what exercise they are doing, if they have balanced hormones levels, if they have good digestion, if their nervous system is being supported properly and they don’t suffer from anxiety or high stress levels. There is SO much more to health than the number on the scale.
What to measure instead:
- Become more health focused as opposed to weight focused.
Start to assess yourself in other ways, tune into your body. How are your energy levels? Do you have more energy? Is your skin clearer? Not only with your workouts, but also in daily life? Do you notice daily chores becoming easier? Does walking up those stairs/steep hill suddenly becomes a breeze? Maybe you’re sleeping better, not waking up during the night as often, feeling refreshed upon waking?
Assess your digestive system, are your bowels more regular? Is your stool formation one big soft log instead of looser stools or pallet like stools?
- How do you feel emotionally?
Are you happier? More confident? Higher self-esteem? Have you been nourishing your body and mind and working hard for your goals? By assessing all of this you will notice an increase in happiness and become more comfortable in your own skin. There’s no greater satisfaction than FEELING amazing.
- Go old-school, grab a tape measure and measure your hips, waist, bum, arm, things.
If weight loss is your main focus measure these areas of your body and do this once every 2-4 weeks. Just make sure you’re taking the measurements in the same places on your body at the same time of day.
- Progress Pics!
Progress pics are a great ways to assess physical changes. Before you start a new workout routine or change in diet, take a pic of yourself. A full-body picture – you don’t have to show anyone. It may be uncomfortable at that time, but just think about how amazing it will feel to look back at the old picture and compare it to where you’re at today. There’s nothing more motivating than your own before and after picture!
- Set fitness goals that are not weight-orientated.
For example say you want to do 20 push ups, run a half marathon, do 5 unassisted pull ups. With your mind focus on strength building or endurance goals you won’t have to worry about the number on the scale. If you can only do 5 push ups now, but next month you can do 10, you’ve definitely gotten stronger, so you should be proud of that, and you might have even toned your arms a little more, extra bonus!
- How are your clothes fitting?
Are your clothes getting a little bit looser? Or maybe your jeans are fitting a little bit better from those squat gains? Do you feel more confident in your favorite dress? Even if the number on the scale doesn’t change (or even goes up) your body is still changing in a good way! Remember that the scale doesn’t know the difference between fat and muscle. You may be leaning out AND building muscle at the same time, and the scale can’t recognize that.
Remember: It’s just a number, and it can be wildly inaccurate over a short period of time. A number should never ever control your mood. If you have enough self-confidence to understand that, then fantastic, using a scale once a month or every two weeks might be okay for you. But, if you know those things even have a chance at controlling you, don’t let them. Dismiss those tools from your life and focus on what matters…how you FEEL!
Keep training smart, eating clean, and being happy! That’s the biggest reward of all!