By: Marley Carviou, Rierson Fitness Personal Trainer
How to heal your relationship with the scale and other ways to celebrate your progress!
The scale has been around for as long as we can remember, and many people have been continually haunted by the number that is shown at their feet. That number is the reminder that your most recent diet or bootcamp isn’t quite working, or the consequence of eating a few too many chips over the weekend. What that number should actually be is one small representation of your fitness journey, but it shouldn’t define it! When used in a positive way it is a tool to help us track data to make sure the healthy changes we are making are actually working. Read below for how the scale may already be helping or hurting you.
Why use the scale anyways?
If the number changes so much, why the heck bother using it? Scale fluctuations are a very normal, daily occurrence that sometimes have nothing to do with what you are or aren’t eating. Our hydration, sleep quality and quantity, hormones, stress levels, and workout routine all affect the number on the scale. For a fun example on how easy it is to see scale fluctuations in a short period of time, click here to watch trainer and author Ben Carpenter’s video. The scale will fluctuate no matter how much you starve yourself, so focus on putting quality nutrients into your body and staying hydrated.
The scale will continue to go up and down give or take a few pounds, but the overall trend of those numbers is what matters most. Continue recording your body weight, but instead of freaking out that your weight went up since yesterday, look back at what your weight was three months ago. Did it decrease steadily? Did it increase steadily? Did it spike quickly in either direction? This overall trend is what will help us figure out if we need to stay the path or if we need to adjust to continue to see progress. Make sure you are working with a trusted professional who can analyze your data and help find what works best for you as an individual.
How to use the scale in a healthy way
So now that we know the scale is one of our tools for data tracking over a long period of time, how can we best utilize it without getting flustered by the number changing day to day? I typically propose two ideas for those who struggle stepping on the scale. The first being just don’t use it! Although tracking our body weight can be helpful, it is not the only way to measure progress. I’ll explore this more in the next paragraph, but if you know that the number you see is something you aren’t happy with then simply take a break. Stick your scale under the bed or tuck it away in the back of your closet and after a month or two you can revisit its use and see if you are more comfortable with it. The second option is stepping on the scale every single day, even on the weekends. Most people like to step on it once or twice a week at random when they are worrying about the number and want to see if their worries are true. If you are comfortable seeing the daily fluctuations, I encourage you to step on the scale every day, right after you go to the bathroom for the first time that day. The most accurate measurement is done with an empty bladder first thing in the morning. Record your daily weight somewhere you can easily access it and share it with your trainer to help keep you on track. If you measure at night because you forgot to do so in the morning, don’t record that weight as that will be an outlier from the rest of the numbers.
Other measurement options
If you think that option one, not using the scale, sounded like heaven to you, there are still other ways you can keep an eye on your progress. Most gyms/personal trainers have access to technology to measure your body fat percentage. This is a great alternative or something to use in addition to body weight. Your body fat percentage will differentiate between your lean muscle mass and fat mass and how each plays a part in your total body weight. Tracking body fat percentage is actually much more accurate than body weight on its own because when we lose weight we want to make sure we are losing fat and not muscle.
If you aren’t a numbers person and find yourself continually discouraged by the data, I suggest using non-scale victories to track your progress. We recently made a post on how non-scale victories are an important part of a person’s fitness journey and are easily forgotten about. Some examples include having more energy, sleeping better, experiencing less brain fog, improved mood and clothes fitting better. Although these examples are more difficult to quantify, they still show how your hard work has helped get your body to a more healthy place.
No matter what your goals are, the scale is a great tool in your toolbox to track your progress, but it is so important to remember that the number you see doesn’t define your worth. It can be easy to compare ourselves to others, or to past versions of yourself and that is just too unrealistic. I encourage you to either use the scale to its full potential while remembering how unimportant the number is, or ditch it entirely. If you have more questions or concerns regarding the scale, weight loss, or the mental challenges of your fitness journey, you can send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call at 319-290-6319. All of us at Rierson Fitness want to give you the tools needed to succeed, without putting you in a challenging mental state. Yes your fitness journey will challenge you, but it shouldn’t break you.
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