If you are just starting out your weightloss journey, the scale can be discouraging. You see the deceptive numbers on the scale and think that you may not be making any progress even though you are. What you do not realize is that progress is happening on the inside.
Think about it. During exercise, your heart learns how to pump blood more efficiently, which allows your body to create more mitochondria to respond to this new demand. You are also getting stronger as your muscles adapt to new workouts. There is now way to see this happening on a scale, am I right?
After your exercises you will start to notice that you feel better. You gain more energy and your thoughts become clear which is great for your mental health. That’s how you should be measuring your progress.
People who are focused on maintaining weight may use the scale to keep a track of their goals, but most people on a weight loss journey need to push the scale off to the side for a little while.
If you are just starting your weightloss journey, you may not be able to see changes for several weeks. If you are adjusting to eating healthy meals and moving your body, your scale may be fluctuating and that is ok, but if it is frustrating you then read on to see why.
Are You Realistic With Your Expectations?
Unrealistic expectations can cause disappointment so you have to stay focused. If you have been working hard at being consistent with your new lifestyle and moving your body, the results will come. You must give your body time to acclimate to this new life. Instead ask yourself, ‘How do I feel?’, ‘Is my skin improving?’, ‘Do I have more energy?’. That is when you know your hard work is paying off.
When you focus on the scale you block those thoughts and the benefits you are receiving from your hard work. These are the long term rewards to a healthy lifestyle and better overall physical and mental health.
If You Want to Keep the Scale Consider This.
If you still want to see your progress, consider using the scale once every 3-4 weeks so your body has enough time to adapt to what you have been doing. This is especially a great idea if you have not noticed any changes in your weight.
I encourage you to shift your focus. What else can you concentrate on to get you to your goals?
Start getting to know your body.
Figure out what you are capable of and focus on conditioning and your daily habits. Pay attention to when you are hungry and what foods you nourish yourself with. Pay attention to what you eat when you’re emotional and how strong your urges are to make unhealthy choices.
Continue to show up for yourself.
Set goals for your workouts. What I like to do with my clients is time their warm-up run. Before each exercise I have them run a certain distance and I track their time, every single time. When they can see their improvements, they become so encouraged. It puts them in such a great mental space to know that they are improving every day! You can do the same thing with reps of a specific exercise too. If you want to graduate from 10 knee push ups to 12, track your goals and work towards it. Over time you will see a calendar of completed exercises and gain a sense of success that the scale could not offer you.
If you are feeling discouraged, I implore you to start setting realistic goals, find a supportive community like Mended Fitness. Focus on creating a healthy lifestyle. Create personal goals outside of the scale such as walking/running your first 5k. Give yourself a chance and remember the deeper reasons why exercise is important for your life.
How Accurate is the Scale?
Have you heard of the saying “muscle weighs more than fat”?
I have too and the answer I am going to share with you is not what you initially think. If you place a pound of muscle a pound of fat on the scale, they will weigh the same. But, they will not look the same. Muscle is more dense than fat so a pound of muscle will be about the size of a tangerine versus a pound of fat which is equivalent to a large grapefruit.
Not all pounds are created equal, and so an extra 20 pounds of fat may make you look less toned vs an extra 20 pounds of muscle which gives you a more lean look. Why? Because fat is an insulator while muscle is a metabolism booster.
Now back to the scale, losing eight might make you feel happy, but what if you were losing muscle? Losing muscle means your metabolism slows down, you lose mobility, and power. Who wants that? This is where the scale can lie to you especially if you are on a strength training program.
So how do you ditch the scale and still recognize physical progress? Well, that is where your clothes come in. I like to use a measuring tape, but your jeans, workout clothes, and dresses work just fine. If you notice your clothes getting looser, that’s when you need to look up to the imaginary camera and give them a thumbs up. This is a good sign. You are well on your way to crushing your goals in a healthy mental health space. Keep a fitness journal and document your progress no matter how small!
Don’t forget to reward yourself. Treat yourself to your favorite cookie from time to time because food is not your enemy. Buy a pair of new running shoes or workout pants. Buy a new blender to make smoothies or a music subscription to push you through your workouts. Take a cooking or meal prep class to learn new skills, plan a wellness getaway, get a massage! Just make sure what you choose to do serves you mentally and is not an opportunity for you to risk all the great accomplishments you have made.
What are you replacing the scale with? Share in the comments below.