Is your bodyweight the only thing you are measuring for progress?
Does the scale upset/frustrate you?
Are you only concerned about losing weight?
Are you working hard but not seeing the scale go where you want?
At some point the scale became the most important/popular measurement for your fitness goals.
And the truth is, people stress out about it. I mean a lot.
Some people will not go near a scale for fear of seeing a number they don’t want. While I still encourage you to weigh in regularly (its just feedback at the end of the day), it’s your choice to do what you want.
Not only do people use the scale as their only form of progress, but they also make a couple big mistakes when weighing themselves (more on this in a bit).
But if we can weigh in the right way and use other forms of progress then you will start to stress less about what the scale says.
Because the scale doesn’t tell us everything.
Ideally, we would be looking at 1-2 measurements besides the scale.
Let’s go over these and how to make sure you are progressing.
Tracking Progress 1: Scale
I believe the scale is a very valuable tool for measuring fat loss progress. However, it can become a problem when people:
- Use it as the only form of progress.
- Don’t weigh in properly.
- Get too caught up in the day to day noise.
Let’s go over some very common mistakes when tracking scale weight.
When you use it as the only form of progression then you are putting everything into a number that can fluctuate, it’s kind of crazy when you think about it.
And for many people this means that they could be getting better sleep, their workout performance could be improving, they are more energized, they may even look healthier overall but if that number says it went up one pound from the week before then they have made no progress in their mind.
Even though you are making progress. But if you are fixated on that one thing, then it will consume you.
Another mistake when people use the scale is they don’t weigh in properly.
Weighing in one time per week is asking for trouble.
I don’t think someone needs to weigh in every day because it can become quite obsessive for some (some people are totality fine weighing in every day, do what works for you).
Instead aim to weigh in 2-4 times per week rather than once per week.
You will get a much better idea of where things are going.
If you weigh in once per week you are running the risk that you are weighing in on day after where you ate a bit more, had a tough workout so inflammation is a bit higher, you had more salt than normal, you didnt go to the bathroom as much the day before etc.
There are so many factors at play that could throw that number off by 5 pounds or more.
Some people (you actually have probably been there yourself) refuse to weigh in because it messes with them mentally but then randomly decide to weigh themselves and then are upset with what they see.
If this happens with a client I tell them to either stop weighing altogether or do it at least 2-3 times over the next week.
They then do 2-3 weighs in per week and guess what?
The day they weighed in (and it was 5lbs higher) was just a bad day.
Your weight could look something like this if you track it 3 times per week:
If you just took it on Monday you would think you gained weight, but really it was just a combination of water weight and food in your stomach.
Not only do you make the mistake of weighing in once per week but its also at random times throughout the day.
Have you ever weighed yourself at the gym in the middle of the day during your workout?
What is that going to tell you?
So what’s better?
You want to make sure each time you weigh in its under the same conditions.
- First thing in the morning
- Post bathroom
- Pre water and food
- Same scale
There are still a lot of factors that could be off day to day. But this sets us up for the most accurate numbers. Which if you are going to use the scale as your only form of progression, at least make sure it’s consistent and gives you somewhat of an idea of what actually is going on.
So to sum this up if you are going to use the scale:
- Weigh in atleast 2-3 times per week
- Weigh in under the same conditions (first thing in the morning, post bathroom pre food, same scale)
The scale can lie to you on a day to day basis. But if done the right way, over time it tells the truth.
Take a look at this clients weigh-ins. If you zoom in its up and down. But over time its trending down. This is how it works.
Tracking Progress 2: Pictures
Another great way to assess your progress is by taking progress photos.
This is great to pair with the scale.
Let me give you an example of a client.
This particular client saw the scale stay the same, but when you look at his pictures he clearly leaned out while adding muscle.
So if we were just measuring his progress by weight, he would’ve been upset because things “weren’t changing.”
If the scale isn’t going down or up (depending on the goal) but your progress pictures are improving what else can you ask for?
The goal is to look better, right?
Progress Picture Tips:
- Take a front, side, and back picture.
- Same lighting if possible.
- Weekly or 1-2 times per month.
Tracking Progress 3: Clothes
Another way to make sure you are progressing is by how your clothes are fitting.
Particularly in the midsection.
Here is another example of a client
This client wanted to lose more weight in the beginning, so if she would’ve just went off the scale she would’ve been upset with her progress.
However, when you look into it more she lost 15lbs and was down a pant size and 2 shirts sizes.
The part you want to pay attention to the most is the midsection. If the scale isn’t going down but your pants and clothes aren’t as tight in the midsection, you are losing body fat and progressing.
Tracking Progress 4: Measurements
Taking your measurements can be a great tool to see if your losing body fat. However, if you don’t want to take a bunch of measurements, there is one that is simple and easy and can tell us a lot.
That is the waist measurement.
The size of your waist is a reliable indicator of fatness.
If you are tracking scale weight and are frustrated by the lack of progress there, but you take your waist measurement and that’s going down….
You are losing body fat. No matter what the scale says.
Tips for waist measurement:
- Measure at the belly button. Stay consistent with that.
- A measuring tape will do.
- Take it as often as you like, but stay consistent. For example, take it once a week on Sunday morning.
Tracking Progress 5 Biofeedback: Energy, sleep, performance, etc.
Another big mistake when tracking your progress is only relying on how your appearance has improved.
That will only get you so far, what’s the point of improving your appearance if you feel terrible?
It’s important we look at biofeedback measurements as well.
Biofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance.
So it’s important to always be asking yourself questions like:
- Do I have more energy?
- Am I sleeping better?
- How I am feeling during my workouts?
- Is my mood improving?
- Am I making better food choices?
- Have I been managing my stress better?
Don’t underestimate the long term effect of these.
If these are improving you will be more likely to stick to any fitness/diet routine you are following. The more likely you are to stick to your routine, the high chance you will see results.
Don’t just look good also feel good in the process.
Since you are probably already tracking scale weight:
- Make sure you start to implement the proper way to track your weight and
- Add in at least 1 other form of measurement for fat loss (clothes, waist measurement, progress pictures).
Don’t forget to check in to see how you are feeling throughout the process, even if your appearance isn’t improving as you would want but you:
- Have more energy
- Get better sleep
- Are in a better mood overall
- Are killing your workouts
- Make better food choices
Eventually your appearance will improve as a byproduct of these getting better.
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