When it comes to weight, the only kind I care about is what I'm lifting in the gym. I was a slave to my scale for years, and it created a lot of self-loathing and feelings of insecurity. I am more than just a number and so are you! For your own sanity, I don't think you should have a scale in your home. Use one at the doctors office or the gym — but if you have one in your bathroom get rid of it!
Whenever I meet with a new client, 9 times out of 10 the first thing they'll say is they want to lose weight. I always ask: why? Understanding someone's motivation is key for me. I then ask if they know the difference between fat loss and weight loss. Most often, people think weight loss and fat loss are the same — but they're not. Weight loss is a decrease in water, muscle and fat. Fat loss is exactly that — the loss of fat. With fat loss you're getting rid of the stuff that could potentially cause health problems, but you're also maintaining and building muscle. Just based on those simple definitions, which one sounds best? And to the ladies: muscle is not a bad word. You want it — you need it. You're not going to bulk up, so don't even say it.
Now where does our annoying friend, the scale, play into this? I'll tell you. The scale can mislead you, and it only gives you a small fraction of the facts. The truth is in the fit of your clothes, and the numbers on your measuring tape. The scale can become your worst enemy by misleading you and killing your motivation. Examples:
- Carbs & Water. Carbs bind to water. So eating less carbs will make you lose weight: water loss. This is why you lose so much weight on a diet like Atkins the first two weeks — it’s mostly water. Of course, increasing your carb intake will make you gain weight again through water retention. So when you go on that weekend rager and weigh a few pounds extra Monday morning, you didn't gain fat. You gained water.
- Muscle Gains & Fat Loss. You’ll gain muscle, while losing fat, when you get into strength training. But on the scale it will look like you’re not making progress, as your body-weight doesn’t change. Track your body fat using a fat caliper and/or a measuring tape, and you’ll see your body fat is going down. I've seen people get distraught over the scale not shifting, and I understand. We've been led to believe that the number on the scale is the only determinant of change and success. Well I call bullshit —because it's not. We're an instant-gratification society, and if we don't see the results we want from a new program quickly, we get discouraged. Don't be! Stop relying on the scale to track your progress. Use photos and measurements. I've been 170 lbs at size 14. I've also been 170 lbs at size 8. The only difference has been my body fat percentage.
Just remember, your scale weight can be a deceptive number. It doesn't reflect the changes happening in your body. If you're doing cardio and strength training, you may build lean muscle tissue at the same time that you're losing fat. In that case, the scale may not change — even though you're getting leaner and slimmer. if you want to maintain your sanity and stay positive, ditch the scale and try these tracking techniques instead.
How to Track Progress Efficiently. You don’t need to track progress weekly — the changes wouldn’t be drastic enough. Track progress every 3 weeks.
- Stop Weighing Yourself Daily. The daily fluctuations will mess with your motivation. Weigh yourself once every 3 weeks, no more.
- Stop Looking in The Mirror. Self-image issues can skew perception. Shoot full-body pictures and compare them with old ones.
- Track Body Fat. Get a fat caliper and track your body fat every 3 weeks. Use this how-to guide.
- Take Measurements. Take girth measurements of your neck, chest, arms, waist & thighs.
- Shoot Pictures. Take full-body pictures from ankle to neck, front/back/side, every 3 weeks. Compare with your previous pics.
- Strength Stats. Log your workouts. Strength going up means muscle gains, and strength training prevents muscle breakdown.