When we start on a fitness journey usually our goal is to lose weight – to make that number on the scale go down.
While the scale can be a good way to track some of our progress, it is a very dangerous thing to focus on completely. We can become so obsessed that the scale ultimately can trap us.
How many days do we step on the scale just because we need to see if the number has gone down? How many days do we weigh multiple times? How many times have we seen a number we don’t like and remove clothing or move the scale to see if we can get a lower number? And how many times have we seen a number we don’t like and get discouraged?
There are many different reasons why the scale can be a dangerous way to track progress, but let’s focus on some of the main ones.
Each person can weigh up to five to ten pounds different in the very same day. There are many factors that come into play here. What time of day did you weigh? How much have you eaten? How much water have you drank? What clothes do you have on? Are your muscles at all sore? Have you used the bathroom? There are so many factors. How can we base our progress on numbers that can vary so much in one day?
Also, if your weight loss journey includes working out or building muscle, it is very hard to track your progress with a scale. You’ve probably heard the expression “Muscle weighs more than fat.” And while that is not exactly true (1 pound of muscle will weigh the exact same as 1 pound of fat), the general idea behind it is worth taking a look at. Muscle is more dense than fat, meaning 1 pound of muscle will take up less space than 1 pound of fat. So while you may be getting slimmer, you may also be gaining more muscle, which means the number on the scale hasn’t moved (or has gone up).
Another reason we cannot trust the scale is that when our muscles are worked (and sore) they will retain a lot of water to try repair themselves. Don’t worry; this is a good thing! But when our muscles retain water, we will weigh more.
One last thing that I have to mention briefly is that women will find that their weight can vary drastically (up to ten pounds) depending on what time of the month it is.
While most of these things mentioned are good things (and do show we have made progress), if we focus on the scale too much and that number hasn’t gone down, we will eventually get discouraged and more likely than not, give up.
So then, how should you track your progress? Take your measurements; compare them every week. Take pictures and compare them (a lot of times you will see a difference in pictures even if you don’t otherwise.) Focus on how your clothes fit. And with all that being said weighing is still good tool, but it should not be the main focus.