Don’t trust the scale. You’ve heard it before. But, really, do yourself a favor and don’t listen to its insidious lies. Your scale tells you one thing and one thing only: how much you weigh (at this exact moment, on this planet). It doesn’t recognize and can’t report on things water retention, muscle gain, bloating, or how many carbohydrates you housed the night before.
It also doesn’t know if you’ve started a new workout routine. If you have, it’s very likely your weight will go up for the first few weeks. That means even if you have a fancy schmancy scale that can tell you about bloating and muscle mass, it still won’t tell you not to freak out if your weight goes up when you start working out. (Psst – that’s what we’re here for.)
Look, I get it. For some of us (myself included), the scale can be a mental measure of fitness success. I weigh myself every morning. And it used to be that whenever that number was higher than the number I saw the day before, I would get bummed out. But, then I started to realize that scale weight isn’t real and now I just use it as a measure that things are generally heading in the right direction.
It also became extremely clear (through weighing myself every morning), that weight loss isn’t linear. Some days I was up a pound. Other days, down two pounds. Here is a look at how my weight has fluctuated over the last month so you can see what I mean. (I didn’t weigh myself between the 15th and the 19th as I was traveling. That’s why that part is flat.)
Still, knowing all of this, I wanted to lose 10 pounds. My pants were tight and I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t like this. So, 30 days ago, I (and a team of 5 of my coworkers) started doing FOCUS T25 and tracking what we ate. I’ve been good about keeping up with the workouts, but not so good about dialing in my food. I have a penchant for burgers and beer, both of which are fine in moderation. The numbers on the scale went up and the numbers on the scale went down.
After 30 days, I feel fitter, my pants fit better, I can start to see more definition in my arms, and my legs feel stronger. Guess how much weight I lost? 0.4 pounds. Not four pounds. Point four pounds. I had just spent 30 days working out and watching what I was eating and I only lost a measly .4 pounds. Harumph.
But I did notice real results somewhere else. In my photos and in my measurements. If you haven’t taken photos and measurements, start. If you’re on Day 5 and forgot, don’t wait to take them until Day 30. Just take them tomorrow morning. And then take them again on Day 30. I take measurements of my waist, the widest part of my waist, my hips, my chest, my biceps, my thigh, my forearm at the widest point, my wrist, and my neck. I use the forearm, wrist, and neck measurements to determine my approximate body fat percentage.
In 30 days, I lost .75″ on my waist, 1.5″ on my lower waist, and .5″ on my hips. I also lost 1.5 pounds of fat and my body fat percentage dropped from 29% to 27.8%. If I had had eaten better, I probably would have seen even more impressive results. Now, a fancy scale could have told me my body fat percentage, but it couldn’t have told me the rest. I haven’t yet reached my fitness goal, but I definitely look like I’ve dropped more than .4 pounds.
How much do you rely on the scale?