I have an admission to make to you all, I do not like scales when it comes to tracking fat loss.
Most people get up in the morning and weight themselves first thing. The rest of the day it is on their minds and they are already judging themselves before the first cup of coffee.
They let the number on the scale dictate how they feel about themselves starting at the very beginning of the day.
If the number was higher than expected they person feels depressed, if it was lower than expected they feel excited. We have all been there!
When someone sets out to meet a goal “ I want to lose 25 pounds” it can be a good starting point for motivation. Scales don’t tell the whole fat loss story, and can have powerful impacts on a person’s emotions and self esteem.
I’m here to say that I think you and the scale should take some time apart. Don’t worry there are plenty of other metrics we can use to track fat loss. I’m not saying to never step on a scale, but I’m going to share why you should do it far less often than you currently are.
1. Weight Fluctuates Dramatically
The human body is truly amazing, and very responsive to the signals we send it. We are constantly eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, sweating - hopefully you’re not going to the bathroom and sweating together though!
The point is your weight will change based on what you ate, how much water you drank, if you worked out, how much salt you had in your food, bathroom frequency and what time of day you weighed yourself. Quite a few factors to keep track of eh ?
Morning and night time weights will also fluctuate because you have been eating and drinking liquids all day. I regularly fluctuate between 3-6 pounds in a day based on how I ate, water consumption, trips to the bathroom and workouts!
2. Weight Doesn’t Reveal The Whole Story!
There are plenty of fat loss pictures out there where someone weighs roughly the same if not more, but with a dramatically improved body composition. Same weight on the scale, but different muscle and fat mass.
We all know that muscle is denser than fat and takes up more volume, but in the process of losing “weight” you never want to sacrifice hard earned muscle!
Ignore the losing “weight” talk we are interested in losing body fat. Even scales that give a body fat percentage are very inaccurate.
The goal is to reduce body fat while preserving and even building muscle mass. Weight loss doesn’t tell us if we are losing fat, or burning up muscle.
3. You Are Not A Scale Number!
Having a goal and wanting to make changes is an amazing part of life, but DO NOT let a number on a scale control how you feel about yourself!
Maybe you set out to lose 50 pounds, and lost 40 pounds instead, while you didn’t hit your exact goal I’m betting you had to buy all new clothes, inspired those around you, are healthier and feel better about yourself. Those all sound like a net positive to me.
Don’t fall victim to playing the up and down emotions game associated with scale addiction. More important do not let the number on the scale dictate how much you eat that day, that is how eating disorders are created and perpetuated.
Look how far you have come, and realize you have EARNED every step along the way, strive to make daily progress towards your goals, but appreciate the changes you have made.
Everybody is a work in progress and has their own journey in this life. Focus on your journey, and the distance you have traveled since first starting on this path!
How To Track Your Progress
When you strength train, eat properly, sleep and adopt healthier habits the body will shed fat. We have addressed a lot of these on the Eat To Evolve blog.
Losing fat is simple, however you should not mistake simple for easy. Because something is simple doesn't mean it will be easy.
By tracking progress you will be able to make adjustments when necessary and see what is and isn’t working for you. You will have a gauge for measuring your fat loss.
Before we cover how to track progress let me say this: DON’T TRACK EVERYTHING DAILY! Any form of daily tracking can become an addiction, and fosters an unhealthy relationship with your body and food. Once more DON’T TRACK EVERYTHING DAILY!
I recommend tracking your progress every 2 weeks. Take pictures and measurements at the same time, on the same day of the week. A Monday of Friday morning before you eat breakfast are best.
Methods For Tracking Fat Loss:
Take a picture:
Get into a bathing suit or your underwear, and use your cell phone to take a picture. If you have someone who can help you take pictures even better, if not the mirror picture will work.
Take a picture facing forwards towards the mirror, then turn sideways and take another side profile picture. If you have someone who can help take a picture of your back profile as well.
You may not like what you see, and you may not want to see that picture again,that’s fine. Put those pictures in a special folder on your computer and add to the folder every two weeks.
We have a hard time noticing any changes on a day to day basis, but if you have a few months worth of pictures to look at you can see your body composition changing and make any necessary changes.
Go to a store and look in their craft section for a soft measuring tape. Make sure to measure yourself in the morning before any food or liquids and don’t do it right after a workout either.
Measure the exact same point every two weeks for accuracy. Pick a landmark on your body like a scar or a freckle to make sure you are at the same spot as the previous measurement.
Take circumference measurement at each these points every two week and write the numbers down. You may need some help with a few of these, others can be done on your own.
Shoulders: Put both your arms down at your side. Measure at the widest point from shoulder to shoulder.
Chest: Put both your arms up in the air and wrap the tape measure around the chest. Just a little bit above the nipple, then put your arms down and take the measurement.
Waist: Right at the belly button, wrapping the tape measure around until it gets back to the belly button.
Hips: Measure the widest part of your hips, going all the way around.
Thighs: Measure around the widest part of both your left and right thighs, but use the same body landmark to keep measurements accurate each week.
A Measurable Workout: You will do this workout before entering into the fat loss challenge and record your score or time. You will do the same workout at the end of the challenge as well so you can bask in your hard work and improvement. While this is not necessary for those who have taken pictures and done measurements, this is an option for the more performance driven individual.