Weight Loss – Why It’s not all about the scales
Whenever people decide it’s time to “DIET” it’s totally understandable that one of the first things
they do is weigh themselves. Now, while there is nothing wrong with this as you can find a starting
point for setting goals, people can easily become obsessed with the figures on the scales and forget
to think about what is happening to their bodies.
I am not saying don’t get on the scales to give yourself a number as a reference starting point but try
to consider the following things:
Our bodies are complex but amazing machines and as a result there are many things going on with it
at any one time. Things going in, things going out, water balance, muscle growth, hormonal changes,
digestion, fluctuations in metabolic rate… amongst many other things. Consequently, your weight
can vary widely over 24-48 hours depending on what you ate, drank and even the time of day that
What I guess I’m trying to say is that this number is simply that – a number – and can be widely
inaccurate over a short period of time!
Alternative ways to keep track
Take Pictures – When you put ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures side by side it becomes glaringly obvious
when you’ve lost weight, or when your body composition has changed. Seeing yourself in the mirror
daily may make it harder for you to recognise changes to your body, often demoralising you and
undermining your efforts.
Take a picture everyone 2, 4 or 6 weeks and keep a record. Take photos from different planes (eg.
front, back and side views) for a good comparison.
Measurements – Try recording your measurements: chest, waist, hips, thighs, arms etc. Yes, these
may take a bit longer to change but its will show positive changes if you’re doing things right! Try
recording these once every 4 weeks.
Women especially notice when their clothes size has changed, so this is another good measurement
to use. You might not actually have had much change on the scales but due to diet and exercise your
body shape has changed! This is a massive positive and you would never have seen it on the scales.
Non-weight related goals – Try setting yourself some goals that are completely away from the
scales. How fast can you run a mile? How many push ups / sit ups can you do in two minutes? Or
how many reps at a set weight can you do of a chosen exercise (eg. a squat)?
Measure your progress over these exercises and without a doubt you will be getting fitter, stronger
and probably have lost body fat too.
Test your Body Fat Percentage – This is a measure of your fat tissue versus lean mass. Basically, a
higher body fat percentage means you are vulnerable to health problems including heart disease
and type 2 diabetes. Having a body fat % higher than 23% for men and 33% for women is classed as
Test your body fat every month or two and, if there’s a decrease, you know you are losing body fat!
Bioelectrical scales are common but not always accurate so try to find a gym or Personal Trainer that
can carry out the test with a Stat tester or body calipers.
Keep a Diary – How you feel can often be a result of eating better, working out and sleeping well.
You may notice you have more energy or that workouts seem easier regardless of what the scales
say! Record this by keeping a diary: it can include how you’re feeling but also what you’ve been
doing for exercise or your healthy eating. This is always good to go back and look at to celebrate
your success or pick you up if you’ve had a bad week.
So remember: scales don’t always give you an accurate assessment of your weight loss. The number
can vary depending on several factors. Use some of the alternative methods I have mentioned: some
will work, some won’t, but try not to get obsessed with the scales as its not the only way to measure
Please let us know how you’re getting on and which methods you find useful.
Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for more interesting information.
Rodders (Personal Trainer with Drop Away ©)