You know, I used to be a BIG time weighing scale enthusiast. Every day I’d look down in between my feet hoping that the weight loss fairies would grant me the glass slipper of fat loss.
I’d cry if I gained. I’d binge on workouts if I lost weight. And I’d hate it. Every time.
That was back when I counted calories, went to the gym for two plus hours every day, strictly scheduled meals and took what seemed to be every weight loss supplement I could get my hands on.
And that’s why the scale and I broke up (sort of).
We all know how it feels to stumble upon one in a friend’s house or gym and find out you’re five pounds heavier than the last time you checked.
You feel hopeless. “I thought I was doing well,” you say.
I hope you felt that.
You ARE doing well. I’m here to tell you why the scale isn’t the best indicator of progress when it comes to fitness, and why you should avoid getting on it every day or too often.
We’ve all heard the age-old phrase: “You are not a number.” And while it’s annoying that this always the first thing someone tells you, it’s true. Scales can’t tell you body composition, measure body fat percentage, tell you how much muscle mass you have, pinpoint your personal body fluctuations or assess the inches of your waist, arms, legs or butt!
The only thing they can tell you is a number. That’s it. And that number is as purposeless as… invisible nail polish.
Hear me out.
The way most people use a scale is what troubles the fitness coach in himself or herself. In that sense, having the scale there for validation or for reaching “goal” weights set by standards other than your own personal ideal body composition (when you are your fittest, not when you think you are) is just plain bad.
Jillian Michaels tells us that there is an effective way to use a scale. And just one.
She says, “To use the weighing scale effectively, you should weigh yourself once a week. I want you to weigh yourself once a week at the same time, on the same day of the week, wearing similar clothing, and most importantly, ON THE SAME SCALE. “
Without these constants (clothing can be excepted), there’s no way to tell if you’re making any progress. Your body is constantly changing throughout the day between meals, water consumption, time of day and other factors, so it’s impossible to get a good grasp on your success if you’re not accurately “testing. “ All variables must remain THE SAME.
Jillian also suggests not avoiding getting on the weighing scale. While sometimes we want to rely only on feeling, the scale can be a great indicator of overall health. It’s not totally useless!
Hello Beautiful writer Robby Darby also informs us that it isn’t good scale practice to continuously compare ourselves to certain weights or judge our own happiness off of reaching our “goal weight.” Goal weights should be measured after you reach a point of wanting to “maintain”: least amount of body fat, satisfied bodily measurements and overall body contentment.
Only then is your “goal weight,” of any use to you.
And Nia Shanks, writer, coach and leader of the Lift Like A Girl revolution, says we should also use other “scales” to gauge our own fitness journeys as well:
- How you look in the mirror
- How your clothes fit
- Are you following simple, stress free nutrition guidelines?
- How you feel. Do you feel strong and healthy? Do you feel better than ever? Do you have more energy? Are you performing well in the gym, or other activities? Do you find daily tasks easier?
- Focus on your actions. Are you eating well? Are you training consistently? Are your actions in line with your goals?
- Improved self-confidence and body image. THIS is what matters, and it’s one of many benefits to strength training.
- These aren’t necessary, but some people like to track some number. In that case, keep track of a few measurements like waist, hips, thighs, and arms.
So the next time you think about getting on a weighing scale, think about what you’re doing: who is this for, what is this for, when are you doing it, can it be repeated at the same time next week, am I looking to maintain, am I gauging my health, what am I doing!?
Understanding your own body comes with time, but it shouldn’t start with a number on a scale. It should start with a healthy change in diet and exercise.