Are you feeling discouraged by the number on your scale?
Have you started a new exercise program and/or weight loss/nutrition plan, but despite all your efforts your weight just doesn’t seem to budge in the right direction?
What up with that?!?!
Well, I come bearing great news …
Believe it or not, no changes in your weight can still mean your moving in the right direction with your health and fat loss. Here’s how this twisted idea works…
What your scale fails to tell you is how much fat, muscle, bone and water mass you have (also known as body composition). This missing piece of information is key since body composition tells us more about a healthy body than just weight alone.
Now wrap your head around this crazy idea…
Muscle weighs more than fat, which means that as you become leaner – and start losing fat – your weight may not shift much and … wait for it… your weight may go up!
This is a common story for someone who starts an exercise program or changes their diet to include more nutrient-dense foods that help burn fat and build lean mass.
So, contrary to popular belief – no changes or an increase in your weight when starting new healthy habits, may in fact be great news for you.
Ok, moment of truth – how many times have you stressed out about this…
Going up 1lb then going down 1lb then going up 2lbs, but coming down 1lb then coming down 2lbs, but now your back up 3lbs, but wait I’m back down 3lbs, oh shit now it’s back up 1lb…if you give me a moment to pee I can get it down another pound, but now I ate a bag of potato chips and I’ve gained 2lbs, so maybe I’ll skip breakfast and look now, I’m back down 2lbs…
Yep, unfortunately this song is a top hit on my music charts – and we need to have a little chat before I go bananas from hearing it one more time…
Small changes on the scale over a short period of time are usually an indication of fluctuations in water weight NOT fat weight. For example, if you consume extra salt in your diet, your body may respond by retaining more water which will increase the number on your scale. This increase in weight has nothing to do with fat but instead is a reflection of an increase in water weight.
So, next time the number on your scale goes up and down and all around from morning to night – PLEASE, sip on some calming herbal tea and stop stepping on that damn scale!!!
Now that you have a better understanding of the downside to using weight as a tracking tool, let’s chat about some other markers that are more accurate for tracking healthy weight loss and changes in health…
1. Body measurements – track changes in your chest, waist and hip measurements since these numbers are a better indicator of fat loss. Also, pay attention to changes in how your clothing fits – are your jeans feeling looser and more comfortable?
2. Energy levels – track changes in your energy levels throughout the day. Are you experiencing more energy in the morning and/or sustained energy throughout the day with fewer afternoon crashes?
3. Digestive health – track changes in your bowel movements (do they feel and look healthier?) and GI symptoms (are you experiencing less bloating, gas, heartburn, pain, etc.?)
4. Sleep – track changes in the quality of your sleep. Are you falling asleep faster, waking up less throughout the night and/or feeling more energetic upon waking?
5. Mood – track changes in your emotional state. Are you feeling happier, less stressed, more connected with friends and family, etc.?
If you’d still like to use the scale as one of your tracking tools, here’s what I suggest…
Weigh yourself once a week, in the morning before any food or water is consumed.
For women – since weight tends to fluctuate more due to our monthly cycles, I recommend weighing yourself once a month (at the same period in your cycle) to avoid getting discouraged by large weight fluctuations that can happen during the course of a monthly cycle.
If you are having ANY negative thoughts and/or feelings around weighing yourself – I highly recommend getting rid of your scale since it will not contribute to your health and may hinder it (both mentally and physically).
At the end of the day, the number on the scale is just that – a number. It can tell you a small story about changes in your overall weight when looked at over longer periods of time, but it doesn’t tell you a whole lot about your body composition and overall health.
I hope you found this article helpful. Leave a comment below and let me know if there are any specific topics you’d like me to address in future articles I write.
Written by: Jennifer DiGregorio, Health Coach and creator of the Lifestyle Change Program