When you’re working hard and your training and nutrition are on point its only natural to want to track your progress some how to make sure you’re moving towards your goals.
It might seem like the scales are the best way to monitor your progress, particularly if weight loss is your goal. However there are 5 very good reasons why the number on the scale might not actually be the most useful measure of your progress.
– Weight is misleading – Even if weight loss is your goal, weight loss isn’t really your goal. We say we want to loose weight but what we really want is to loose fat. You may have heard the saying that muscles weighs more than fat, this isn’t strictly true, a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle (it’s obvious when you think about it!). But muscle is more dense than fat, that means that a pound of fat takes up a lot more space than a pound of muscle. All this means that you might be looking smaller, and more toned but weigh the same or even more because you’ve lost fat but gained muscle. If all you’re looking at is the number on the scale, it will look like you’re not making progress at all.
– Weight loss is not a linear process – as much as we may have been lead to believe that weight loss is a simple calculation of calories in vs calories out, real life is a little more complex. If your nutrition and training is on point, you’re well hydrated and getting enough sleep then chances are that number on the scale will be going down. But this doesn’t mean that some days it won’t stick, or even go up by a few pounds. That’s just the inherent nature of weight loss which almost always includes stalls and plateaus.
– The scale can lead to self sabotage – some of us (and I’m sad to say especially women) have a chequered history with the scales. How many of us have jumped on the scales in the morning only for the number that shows to dictate how we feel about ourselves for the rest of day? I know I have. Even worse are the days when you jump on the scale and you don’t see the number move despite your days/weeks/months of hard work so you decide, fuck it, this healthy eating and exercise stuff is clearly not working so you might as well just eat a box of Dunkin’ donuts and be done with it. When weighing yourself leads to self sabotage, it might be time to find another way of measuring your progress.
All this is not to say that weight can’t be a useful indicator for some people. The scales have their place, provided they’re not used as the sole measurement of progress. But there are other ways to measure progress that can be both more accurate and less counter-productive.
Measurements – If accuracy is your main concern, then measurements are the way to go. Whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gain, taking good body measurements (either alone or in conjunction with the scale) is probably the easiest and most accurate way to measure your progress.
Progress pics – Lets face it, if your goal is weight loss or muscle gain then your primary concern is probably what you actually look like. Thats why progress pics can be such a great way to measure changes. Because change happens gradually it’s often difficult to notice your progress just by looking in the mirror. Often you may feel like you’re not making progress at all, only to be surprised by the dramatic change evident by comparing photographs.
PBs – There are many more benefits to training and taking care of yourself that just how you look. Why not take the focus off appearance all together and concentrate on ability instead? Measure your progress by how much weight you can lift, how fast you can run or how many pull us you can do.