Scale weight is something that can lead to overwhelming joy or meltdowns, tears and tantrums. The more you learn about the human body and composition, the more you start to understand how only looking at the scales is a very one dimensional way of looking at progress.
As an example, someone hired me to design a programme for her to follow and at the same time she focused on changing her diet – she only lost ½ stone overall but dropped 4 inches off her waist. That’s a massive drop which the scales wasn’t really reflective of.
With certain people, scale weight can be an important indicator such as severely obese people who need to lose weight for health reasons and athletes / fighters looking to make competition weight for an event.
For most people though, the number on a scale is a cause of a lot of agitation and frustration and doesn’t always paint the most accurate picture. There are other ways to measure your overall progress:
1) Body measurements. These can be very useful by themselves or when combined with tracking scale weight. It’s easy to do as well – grab a tape measure, measure what you want to track i.e. chest, waist, hips, arms, legs – then track these measurements over time. Are they increasing / decreasing in line with your goals?
2) How your clothes are fitting. Similar sort of idea to tracking body measurements, instead you’re tracking how your clothes feel. It can be a little more subjective but if you feel like your favourite jeans are getting looser or if your shirt is fitting better, these are good indicators.
3) Progress photos. This is a visual guide to see how you are progressing over time. This can be very powerful as people will often forget or plain not realise how far they have come from how they first looked.
4) Performance in the gym. Not all progress is about losing weight. For example, are you lifting heavier weights? Are you able to go faster and / or longer on the cardio equipment? These are signs that you’re getting stronger and fitter which may be more important than what weight you are.
5) Health markers. Is the exercising improving markers such as your blood pressure, resting heart rate and blood glucose levels? Not all markers have to be external, health markers are extremely important and are often improved with exercise.
This is a great example of scales not reflecting the hard work and progress you might be making in the gym. See if you can guess how much weight my client lost in 3.5 weeks (answer at the end)
If the photo isn't too clear, here are the before (09/08/16) and after (01/09/16) measurements:
Upper Arm L - 10.75" down to 10.50"
Upper Arm R - 11" down to 10.75"
Waist - 36" down to 34.5"
Hips - 38" down to 37.5"
Thigh L - 22.5" down to 21"
Thigh R - 22" down to 21"
That's a total of 5 inches across 6 points in 3.5 weeks which is fantastic progress. It shows what can happen with the right nutritional tweaking and putting the effort into training both in and out of the gym.
It also shows the importance of why tracking measurements can be more important than just a number on a scale. By all means track your weight as well but understand that doesn't give the full story.
The weight lost in this period: 2lbs.
To summarise - there are lots of indicators you could use instead of solely using the scales to measure your progress. Pick the ones which are most appropriate or mean the most to you and track them.
If you still want to track your scale weight, cool, but try it along with other markers to get a better idea of your true progress.
This is my, mostly, Personal Trainer musings and information which I hope you'll find helpful!