How to measure progress and what’s wrong with the scale
You have been eating well and training hard all week and starting to notice the benefits of the nutritious foods, more water and regular exercise. You are feeling leaner, stronger, happier, more energized and sleep better. Things are going great!
Then you get on the scale and weigh the same or more and immediately feel frustrated and give up thinking it’s not working.
Unfortunately, most women get hung up by the number on the scale and they let the scale define them and how hard they work.
The scale is NOT the primary indicator to measure success. Your weight can easily fluctuate 1-2kg on a daily basis especially if you are overweight. This has nothing to do with body fat! Don’t let the scale push you back to old, bad behaviours.
What can influence your weight?
Glycogen – when carbs (sugar) is stored in our body as glycogen, it holds onto water. For every gram, you can hold onto up to 4g of water. That’s why low carb diets work fast at first but it’s mainly water loss. Don’t freak out if your weight is up after a carb heavy day or meal.
Sodium – how much water you are drinking, retaining. If you eat higher sodium you will hold onto more water.
Constipation – not having regular bowel movements.
Cycle – water retention
Food intolerance – bloating
Heavy/ high volume training session – when you train hard your muscles get sore and they can hold onto more water.
Quality and/or quantity of sleep
Stress (emotional and/or physical)
The scale only tells you what you weigh in that moment you step on it. It doesn’t make a difference between muscle, fat or water weight. What if you are gaining muscle and losing fat and there is no change on the scale but you actually look leaner and tighter?
The scale is just a general measure of your total mass.
If you cut calories too fast and start losing weight rapidly don’t celebrate too soon because chances are you are losing lean muscle and water and not fat. The less muscle you have the slower your metabolism gets and as soon as you start eating more again you will put back all the weight you lost and more.
To create a better body shape your goal is to lose body fat and retain and increase lean muscle mass. This will keep your metabolism healthy which is essential for long term success with your fat loss goals. Slow and steady wins the race. Quick fixes don’t work!
On a personal note, I used to weigh 53kg before I started lifting weights and I wasn’t happy with my body. I now weigh 62-63kg and I am eating more, feeling healthier, leaner and have feminine curves which I didn’t have before. Weights did not make me look like a man!
So what are the good ways to measure progress? These are the factors I take into consideration when I assess my clients’ progress.
Use clothes, tight jeans, dresses to see how your body is changing. Your clothes might fit better but you are the same weight on the scale. It means your body is tighter, denser – you are building muscle and losing fat.
Photos – taking photos regularly from the front, back and sides is my favorite way to measure progress. Sometimes you don’t realize how much you have changed only when you look back at your starting photos.
Assess your strength and endurance. How many press ups can you do in a minute? How fast can you run 1km?
Improvements in your self-discipline and confidence. You used to have binge cycles and couldn’t control yourself around food but now you can. You used to be intimidated in the weight area but now you can go in there and smash your workout without worrying about who’s watching you.
Less or no cravings
Improvements in your menstrual regularity. Experiencing less cramps.
Going out without feeling the need to overindulge
Improved sleep quality
Better mood and energy throughout the day
Increased focus and productivity
THESE ARE ALL AMAZING VICTORIES THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STUPID NUMBER ON THE SCALE!
Pay attention to what’s going on behind the scenes! Notice how you feel, how you sleep, your mood, your energy, your libido, fitness level, confidence!
These are the things worth celebrating and not a number on the scale.