Ditching The Scale
Numbers don’t lie. Or do they? Using a scale to weigh yourself and then relying on that number to gauge your progress may be detrimental. Weight fluctuates during the day, sometimes by several pounds. Your weight on a scale isn’t static. Sometimes that scale lies a bit, especially if it isn’t calibrated properly and since weight fluctuates, the numbers often don’t represent what’s happening with your body. And many of us check our weight on different scales; the one at home, the one at the gym, or any number of other locations (think friend’s house, doctor’s office, etc.) and each scale will vary slightly.
There’s a battalion of weight loss experts, nutritionists, and personal trainers that say surrender the scale, really, just ditch it completely. For a time, anyway.
“So many times my clients get caught up in what the scale says and not to how they feel,” says Jill A. Greber, a certified health coach and Global Director Take Shape for Life. “When looking to lose weight it is not normal to see the scale go down every day and if you are fixated on it you can get frustrated and give up.”
What often happens when one begins a weight loss program, water weight is the first to be shed and the scale reflects that but that weight can fluctuate greatly and while your clothes may be feeling a bit looser as your diet progresses, the scale may be telling a different story.
“I coach my clients to only weigh themselves once a week and to look for what we call ‘non-scale victories,’” Greber says. “These are things like your clothes fitting loser, you chose a healthy snack over a fatty sugary one, you said no to the doughnuts at work. Maybe you parked far away from the door when shopping, or you added another glass of water to your daily intake. You get the picture, these small and valuable daily healthy habits add up.”
Michelle Powell, weight loss and lifestyle coach at Whole Self Weight Loss, suggests clients not focus on the scale.
“I do encourage my clients to abstain from weighing too often at home and would prefer they weigh once a week here at the clinic for several reasons,” she says. “The scale does fluctuate from day to day and, for some, that leads to mind games, frustration and, self-sabotage. I explain that the scale is only part of the equation and is only one way to measure progress.”
Powell says there are other, and often better, ways to gauge weight loss.
“The tape measure, clothing fit, body composition analysis, energy and activity level and overall health improvements are all measures of progress and success as well,” she says.
Powell shares her own story as a way to inspire, motivate and educate.
“As a formerly obese person myself, I can definitely say that I felt really bad about the number on the scale when I’d reached 210 pounds. I was very unhealthy (with) diagnoses of pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, and fibromyalgia among other things. Many of my clients are suffering with health problems that are considered ‘weight-related’ when, in my opinion and experience, they are actually dietary lifestyle-related,” she shares.
“In other words, I believe excess weight, obesity are more the symptom than the source of the problem,” she says. “Early in my weight loss journey, before losing the majority of the excess weight I carried, all of those ailments went away. Due to majorly changing my dietary habits, my body felt better before it began to ‘look’ better. Eventually, finding out which foods caused inflammation, and thus illness, for me was crucial, which is why we now offer a food intolerance test for someone doing their very best to eat ‘healthy’ and are still struggling to lose the weight. Being dedicated to my lifestyle change has enabled me to stay healthy and keep my weight where I want it.”
Powell says that “in addition to weight loss on the scale, my clients report their NSVs (non-scale victories): better energy; no more bloating; clearer skin; lower blood pressure and blood sugar; improved lab results; medication dose changes or cessation by their doctors. All of those things, in addition to a smaller number on the scale, spell success to us.”