If anyone has ever embarked on a weight loss/weight gain journey, there’s nothing more harrowing then your daily weigh in. It can sometimes feel like your success, motivation, commitment and even self-worth is linked to whatever number flashes up on that screen (or where the needle lands, if you’re an analogue hipster).
But scales suck.
First of all, the large majority of bathroom scales are cheap, dodgy pieces of equipment that aren’t all that accurate to begin with. As well as this, the number that pops up each morning is effected by so many different things, that it really isn’t worth all that much in isolation. Here is a list of things that can affect your daily weight that have nothing to do with fat loss or muscle gain…
WHAT CAN AFFECT YOUR WEIGHT
- How recently you last ate
- How hydrated you are
- The size of your morning poop
- How much salt you’ve recently had
- The weather
- Your menstrual cycle
- You worked out last night and didn’t have carbohydrate afterwards so your muscle fuel stores are low
- You worked out last night and did have carbohydrate afterwards so your muscle fuel stores are high
- There’s a Mars Bar in your back pocket (didn’t your mum teach you it’s rude not to share?)
So, how do you accurately track your weight loss?
MEASURE THE TREND
There’s only really one useful weigh to use scales. Weigh yourself at the same time, every day, wearing the same clothes, and track the TREND of these measures. The average of your weight over the last week versus the week before gives you a much better idea of what is actually happening underneath. Tracking this change over time (and two weeks doesn’t count) is the key – making sure progress is slow and steady.
However, if you are getting fixated on this number, and it’s beginning to affect your mood, or making you feel guilty about food, get rid of those pesky scales. You are much more than a number!
DITCH THE SCALES ALL TOGETHER!
Rather, use other measures to track your progress. These can include checking how your clothes fit, having a look in the mirror, or improving your performance when exercising. If these things are changing, then everything is going according to plan, and you don’t need a set of scales to confuse things.
Finally, remember that scales don’t measure fat loss or muscle gain, they just measure ‘weight’. So if you’ve been keeping an eye on your food, getting your sweat on regularly and the scales still aren’t budging that doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t done anything good! For starters, you’ve improved your health which is way cooler than a silly number. But maybe you’ve also inadvertently built some muscle, which means even though your ‘weight’ hasn’t changed, your body composition has! The way to confirm if this is the case is by getting a fancy scan that uses bioelectrical impedance or a DEXA (the gold standard) but ultimately and ironically, these will still just give you numbers.
So instead, monitor how your clothes are fitting, track your progress in the gym, and most importantly, track how it makes you feel! Eventually, the results will take care of themselves.