How many of you rely on the scale to track your progress? How many of you find yourself weighing in daily or weekly? How many of you feel really good about yourself until you step foot on the scale and see that the number has either stayed the exact same or gone up? What if I told you that the scale is, in many cases, an unreliable way to track your progress? Truth Bomb: The scale measures the weight of your body. (Duh.) What it DOESN’T DO is differentiate between muscle mass, skeletal mass, body fat, or water weight. It knows no difference. It also doesn’t factor in daily/weekly weigh fluctuations that occur due to sodium intake, water intake, fiber intake, or time of month (ladies…) Which is precisely why you shouldn’t rely solely on the scale to measure your progress. So, how can you track your progress without jumping on the scale every week? Let’s dive in:
Measurements are a simple and accurate way to track your progress, especially if your goal is weight loss. Grab a measuring tape, and a pen and paper. Measure your chest, waist, and hips. You can also measure your thighs and arms. Some people go one step further and measure their necks and calves, but if you’re like me, you don’t care how wide your neck is. Record your measurements. You can take new measurements every 4, 8, or 12 weeks. Do not take daily measurements, change is not going to occur that quickly, and you’ll just find yourself discouraged. You’ll be surprised by how your measurements can change, even if your body weight doesn’t. After my first round of BBG I lost 12 inches, something I would have never even known if I hadn’t taken measurements.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that I typically use the same “before” photo over and over again. Why? Because that’s the only photo that I took of myself at my heaviest. Why? Because I was ashamed of my body and could barely stand to look at it, let alone take photos of it. So, trust me, I get it if you don’t want to take photos. BUT, also trust me when I say you’ll be happy that you did. Progress pics are a great way to observe change, whether your goal is weight loss, weight gain, or muscle gain, this will be reflected in photos. Aim to take photos every 4, 8, or 12 weeks, and try to take them in the same lighting and at the same angle. Again, don’t take photos every single day, any changes that you see day to day are simply a reflection of water weight.
Also, because I know how discouraging it can be to see yourself in photos when you don’t feel comfortable with your body, remember that you do not need to post those photos, or show them to anyone, they are simply a way for you to measure your progress. You also don’t need to stare at them incessantly and beat yourself up about them (like I did to myself), simply take them, leave them be, and know that in the future you’ll be happy that you took those photos.
PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOUR CLOTHING FITS
Initially, I didn’t pay much attention to how my clothing fit. However, as the weeks and months passed, I would find myself being able to fit into jeans and dresses that I couldn’t even zip up before. How your clothing fits (or doesn’t fit) is a simple, no non-sense way to track your progress. Pay attention to how your clothes feel; do they feel looser, more comfortable, easier to put on? If so, change has obviously occurred.
Now, I want to make this clear. I’m not talking about being a size 12 and buying a size 2 dress that you want to try to fit into in a month or two. I’m talking about how the clothes you currently own fit you. There’s nothing wrong with having a “goal outfit” or “dream dress” that you’d love to wear, but trying to squeeze into an outfit that is 10 sizes too small is only going to make you feel discouraged, self-conscious, and utterly defeated. And please know that I’m speaking from experience here. At my heaviest I bought a pair of low-rise size 2 bright red jeans that I wanted to fit into. Guess what? Those jeans never fit me (this is an understatement, I couldn’t even get the damn things past my shins), nor would they fit me in my current body, so I donated them and bought jeans in my size. Judge your progress based on how your current clothing fits, and not how clothing that is a million sizes too small fits. Also, who created low-rise jeans and why? Ain’t nobody tryin’ to see your butt crack.
FOCUS ON HOW YOU FEEL (THIS IS PROBABLY YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE ADVICE BUT I WOULD ARGUE THAT IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT)
Focus on how you feel, not on how you look, blah blah, I get it, you hate hearing that. But, it’s the truth. Sorry, not sorry. Listen there have been times in my life where I have likely looked the best that I ever had, but felt utterly crappy about myself. Why? Because I was so focused on how I looked, that I forgot to focus on how I felt, or on how I wanted to feel. Looks are not the end all be all. I realize we live in a world where so much emphasis is placed on our appearance, but I’m telling you, it’s not the only thing that matters. I’m also telling you that just because you look good, doesn’t mean that you feel good about your body or good about yourself.
Place LESS emphasis on what you weigh, how many stomach rolls you have (I’m the proud owner of some stomach rolls), or how badly your inner thighs jiggle, and MORE emphasis on how you feel. By exercising and eating well, do you feel better physically? Are you sleeping better? Do you have more energy? Do you have more stamina to chase your toddlers around the yard all damn afternoon? Do you notice a decrease in digestive issues? Do you feel less anxious? Do you notice your seasonal depression has become easier to manage? Do you find yourself able to lift a little heavier? Run a little further? Not feel like you’re about to drop dead during BBG legs? These are all SIGNS OF PROGRESS. And they are arguably some of the most important signs of progress. I mean who cares if you’ve gained 3 pounds if you feel better physically and mentally? Who cares if your weight hasn’t budged in 6 weeks when you find yourself better able to chase your kids or grandkids around? Who cares about a number when the quality of your life has improved? Perspective people, it’s all about perspective.
BODY FAT/COMPOSITION SCAN
I debated even including this one on the list, simply because I have never had my body fat or body composition measured. However, I decided to include it and I’ll explain why. Unlike the scale in your bathroom, a body composition scan measures your body fat, muscle mass, and bone density. It can determine whether you have gained weight or lost weight, gained fat or lost fat, and gained muscle or lost muscle. Why is this more accurate than a standard body weight scale? Because while your scale at home may tell you that you’ve gained 6 pounds, a body composition scan can tell you that you’ve lost fat and gained muscle, thus the reason why your weight has either increased or remained the exact same. It is a far more accurate way to track change and measure progress, and can provide you with far more information than a simple scale can.
Body scans are pretty pricey (depending on the scan and where you have it done), so I’m certainly not suggesting you have one done (seeing as I, myself haven’t had one), my POINT is that weight gain or a stagnant weight does NOT mean that your body hasn’t changed, or that you haven’t made any progress.
Listen, I understand the pressure that society puts on us to weigh a certain amount, or to look a certain way. I understand the desire to jump on the scale with the hope that it will show that you’re lighter than before. I understand in theory why we have a tendency to think that the scale is an accurate way to track our progress. But it’s not. And in many cases, the scale does more harm than it does good. It can cause harm to our minds, to our self-esteem, and to our expectations. Which is why, if you’ll only take one piece of advice from me, please let it be this: The scale does not determine your self-worth. It simply measures the weight of your body and produces a simple number. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. So let’s stop allowing our self-worth to be contingent upon a number, because our worth is not measured by the scale in our bathroom.