When people consider how to measure progress and set goals, the most common way of doing so is by simply weighing yourself. Now, the truth is, the scales in many ways get a bad rep because they are a fantastic measure of progress however we must be objective in the way we look at this
Scale weight can be a controversial topic.
On the one hand it’s a fantastic measure of long-term progress, on the other hand unless you are a jockey or a boxer you could ask, “Does it really matter?”
The answer is always, IT DEPENDS.
My thoughts are that if you want to achieve fat loss then you can be sure that over time your scale weight will drop but you should also be aware of fluctuations and why they happen. That way you are in a much better position to deal with the emotions that can come with it.
Females especially will see their weight change a lot over the course of their menstrual cycle and other things like fluid intake, types of foods and simply volume of food in the body can play a part. This is something that most people don’t acknowledge but if you are going to use scale weight as your primary measure it is imperative that you understand It or at least that you are aware that the majority of day to day fluctuations are NOT BODY FAT.
What you should see it as is that scale weight gives you data, but it’s only part of the puzzle. We have to consider that in order to truly monitor progress there should be lots of different variables that we look at. Going back to the data element, the more data the better and if we can combine different types of data that all suggest there is progress then that means our results are more validated than simply stepping on the scales. Measurements and photos help you connect the dots too and in my opinion you should always use these alongside scale weight for the most accurate tracking of your results.
One of the biggest mistakes I think weight loss slimming clubs and to be honest most people make, is that they put all their eggs into one basket so to speak and they convince themselves that the scales are the only option, they don’t consider other avenues and this can lead to a lot of short-term disappointment and even some long-term issues with your relationship with, well… The ground.
There are however some tactics that I encourage to ensure you are getting a fair and accurate measure with your weight. We should be comparing one piece of data to another piece of data (in this case scale weight) from corresponding days, times etc. This way you can gain a better understanding of the possible future fluctuations and what is likely to be true weight loss rather than water or food volume fluctuations.
I always recommend that you should weigh yourself in the morning before eating or drinking (post-toilet) and ideally on the same day each week. I often suggest a Friday morning is actually a great time as it’s usually before you have a drink and a more relaxed diet approach at weekend which almost always results in TEMPORARY weight gain due to the influx of typical ‘weekend’ activity coming into the body. I use this strategy with many of my clients.
Please note that weekend activities CAN lead to fat gain if you are eating in a calorie surplus, however if you are sure you are in a deficit your body composition really won’t have changed all that much.
When we drink (alcohol) we retain more water. When we eat carbohydrates, muscle cells pull in up to 4g of water per g of carbohydrate. So for example eating a Domino’s Pizza could make you retain way over 1lb just in water, not to mention the weight of the food itself. Neither of these things correspond directly with stored body fat. They are merely temporarily stored in the body (some of the pizza may be stored – but most wouldn’t be). Couple this with a bit of a drink at the weekend and you could be looking at being 2lbs heavier or more just from your food and drink choices over the weekend. This would however probably drop off as you returned to a lower calorie diet and hydrated yourself over the coming days. However when most people jump on the scale on Monday, they feel deflated, upset and question whether it is all worth it. This can be very damaging to you not only your results but your emotional well-being too.
Most weight fluctuations are NOT BODY FAT!
On the flip side, when big fluctuations are celebrated week to week this can lead to confusion, it makes more sense to compare the current week to 4 weeks back and look for a downward trend overall rather than focusing on short-term fluctuations, as difficult as this can be to accept. This is another way in which slimming clubs that weigh weekly could improve.
It’s all about looking at the bigger picture and focusing on the process over time rather than short-term results.
Taking an average over 3 consecutive days is also a good approach to account for any fluctuation but the most important things are that you are consistent with whichever approach you take, that you track other variables to and that you don’t get emotionally attached to the scales.
I would go back to what I mentioned earlier that females will fluctuate much more than males and should always compare their current weight to exactly the same point in their previous cycle, it wouldn’t be a fair comparison to compare it to a different point. This again is something that the slimming clubs don’t seem to have much of a handle on and it can be incredibly discouraging for females when it is not acknowledged but this is generally down to poor education of the people delivering these sessions.
The final note here would be that regardless of the short-term number on the scales you should trust the process. Continue with the habits and routines over time regardless of the short-term result and over time you WILL see improvements in all areas.
Remember to use multiple variables to track progress and be as painstakingly accurate with them as you are on the scales e.g. same day, same time etc. These small little factors can play a huge part in the likelihood of you recognising success.
The scales are not bad, they are simply used in an incorrect way but I hope this blog has gone some way to highlighting how best to manage this and use them to your advantage moving forward.
So in summary – BE CONSISTENT & TRUST THE PROCESS.
If you’d like to learn more about how to be successful with your weight loss and be motivated along the way, simply click the button below to join my exclusive list of people of whom I help with these very things.
Dale Wallace – The DoTheWork Coach