This is going to be a hard message for many of you to hear especially if this is something you do daily. I’m talking about stepping on the scale. So many of us are preoccupied with that number. Our weight. Doctors use an age old formula to determine who is a healthy weight and who isn’t. It’s an artificial number that doesn’t take into account body composition or body structure, yet it’s become that Holy Grail that everyone aspires to attain. If you’re not in the range, you can become compulsive about checking the scale until you are.
Maybe you have a weight number in mind that you think you need to be. Maybe it’s the weight you were in high school. Maybe it’s 5 pounds less than where you are now and you think you’ll look better if you lose those pounds. Whatever it is that motivates you, STOP. No good can come out of weighing yourself too much.
First of all, it’s normal for our weight to fluctuate. Particularly if you’re a woman, your weight can change one to three pounds per day. That’s right. Hormones, water, bloating, or whether you’ve gone to the bathroom can affect how much you weigh. If it’s your time of month, you can go up as many as five pounds! This is enough to make you crazy. Honestly, what are you really after when you step on the scale? You could lose weight and still not look the way you want to look. What if you took a different approach altogether? What if you tried circumference measurements and photos instead? Now, hear me out.
Many of the body fat scales now have apps that incorporate measurements into the formula. This is because it’s super important to pay attention not only to weight but also body composition. Muscle weighs more than fat and it takes up less space. This is why it’s entirely possible for you not to lose any weight when you first start a resistance training program. In fact, some people gain a little bit before they lose. It’s complicated!
So, if you shouldn’t weigh yourself every day, how do you know if you’re making progress?
- Weigh yourself once a month, same time of day.
- Take your measurements on that same day every month.
- If you have a body fat scale, watch the trend over time; again, only once a month!
- Take photos when you first start a new program. These are only for you (but you might be proud enough to share them later!). Take one from the front and from each side. Take the same photos again one month later, preferably wearing the same clothing. Ladies, consider a two piece swim suit or underwear. Men, just underwear. You want to see your body clearly.
I know it might be hard to avoid the temptation to weigh yourself each day, but you need to resist! Try removing the scale from your bathroom. Hide it someplace where it’s not easy to get to. Instead of weighing yourself, take inventory of how you feel each day. Are you overtired? Sore? Hungry? Not hungry? What’s your skin look like? How’s your mood? Those are all great markers to pay attention to when you’re trying to make progress toward a health and fitness goal.
Scales are helpful, but they’re not the only tool we have to assess our health. In moderation, people! Happy health and fitness!