Scale - Friend or Foe?
You have been doing everything right, eating healthier and in moderation, spending hours on the dreaded treadmill, lifting weights and even going easy on the adult beverages and late-night snacks. But somehow when you step on the scale, the same number stares back at you—or worse, the number is higher than it was last time! Frustration sets in, so we move the scale around the bathroom floor a few times until we get a number, we are happy with!
That scale does not tell the whole story! I continually tell my clients not to focus on the “number” on the scale (easier said than done right?) For many of us we have it set in our mind that the number on the scale either means success or failure. This mindset leaves you feeling frustrated and defeated which leads to giving up on achieving your fitness goal. Don’t let that number on the scale blind you from your progress and success! Take a deep breath, IT IS OK!! Even though that number may not be what you have your mind set on as your ideal weight…you are making progress and here is why…
As you get healthier, a few mind/body clues begin to happen. If you can check any of the boxes below, you are on the right track …. even if the scale tells a different story.
Weight Fluctuates Each Day
How often should you weigh in? Once a week at most ... as there are so many factors that can change your daily weight. If you weigh yourself daily, you may notice the number fluctuates each day. This can be due to water retention, hormones or simply your body holding water due to consuming excessive sodium. Your scale weight is a just a quick snapshot. If the scale is not moving much but your body fat is going down, that means very good things for your body.
Muscle Weighs More Than Fat
I am sure you hear this all the time…truth is, a pound is a pound, whether it is muscle or fat. BUT muscle is more dense than fat and takes up less space. Two things that weigh the same can be very different in size. For example, a pound of fat is fluffy and bulky about the size of a grapefruit and a pound of muscle is hard and dense and about the size of a tangerine. Fat insulates the body, I know that sounds appealing in the winter months, but muscle boosts your metabolism which is even better! The more muscle you have the more calories you burn when at rest, so grab some dumbbells rather than a cookie 😊
Clothes Tell The Truth
Instead of determining whether you are getting results based on the scale, look at how your clothes fit. Let your clothes be an indicator in deciding if your hard work eating healthy and working out is paying off!
Why has my progress stopped? The dreaded …. scale plateau!
The first thing you should ask yourself when you want to hit a specific weight is a simple … Why? Why is that number important to you? Where did you come up with that number? You might set a goal of losing weight in an attempt to reach the weight you were back in college or the weight you were before you had kids. Your body has changed a lot since the good old days, you put on muscle since then. It is possible that the only way to reach that number would be to sacrifice lean mass … and that is not something you want to do. It is more important to focus on the bigger picture - how you feel, how your clothes fit, or on your measurements.
What do I do when I get super frustrated and feel stuck?!
And no …. smashing the scale is not an option!
Most important … do not panic! Not enough people will tell you that a plateau is part of weight loss. When the changes you have made appear to stop working or not working like you would hope, they are actually still working. Your metabolism slows down as you lose weight, especially if you are just “dieting” it is real important when you are on your weight loss journey to continue to build muscle because muscle keeps that metabolism revving! Check yourself - Are you still following the plan? But it might be even better to ask - Has anything come up in my life that have taken me off course? Make adjustments if necessary - Sometimes you may need to reduce caloric intake a bit more to keep making progress. Do this in small increments and give it some time to take effect. Change up your workout routine ….if you are continually doing the same thing over and over (i.e. treadmill at the same pace every day for the same amount of time at the same speed or taking the same bike riding route day after day) your body “expects it” and doesn’t work harder to build muscle or burn calories. Change it up…continually keep challenging your body. I highly recommend the Bungee Workout at Swoop!
If you have been staying true to the plan, and there is nothing in your life that has you stressed (um…what’s your secret?!) or is causing you to backslide, then grant yourself some patience. Remember that good habits, everything in moderation and not specific numbers, are what is truly important. I know all of this sounds so easy and that applying it is the hard part. But remember a number cannot tell you how you feel or hold power over you —unless you let it!