Should You Step Off The Scales For Good?
Your fat loss journey has begun. You are training hard and eating healthy foods and for the first few weeks the number on your scales is dropping and you feel great!
The motivation is high and you are killing it this week! The sweat is pouring off during your workouts and you have resisted the temptation of the ice cream and chocolate thats calling your name. You have a friends birthday dinner on Saturday night and so you decide that you have worked really hard all week, you can indulge in some pasta and wine.
You wake up the next morning and to your shock the scales suggest that you have put on 2 kilos! How could this be? You worked so hard and you didn’t even blow out at dinner.
This is the curse of the scales. What you don’t realise is that your higher than normal carb meal (pasta) has caused your body to hold more water which translates to a higher number on the scales. You haven’t actually gained any fat and more than likely your body has enjoyed the extra carbs.
Unfortunately the scales don’t take into account any other variables so they are an extremely unreliable tool when to comes to measuring your body composition. Now if pure weight loss or weight gain was your goal then this would be fine as it wouldn’t matter what the weight was compromised of.
So what can i do if i don’t have access to a body scanner?
When it comes to our ReGen clients (if their goal is fat loss or muscle gain) we like to use 4 main metrics:
- Girth measurements
- Body weight
- Progress photos
Other metrics that we also consider depending on their goals are:
- Feeling of well being
- Perceived stress
Why do we use those four metrics?
Since we offer online coaching and can’t personally use callipers to measure peoples body fat and not everyone has access to a body scanner, we have found that this is the next most accurate way to track results.
We have our clients use a tape measure to measure 7 body parts.
This allows us to see where on the body the changes are being made.
We look to a simple formula called the hip to waist ratio to allow us to understand if weight is being lost or gained in the areas we want.
For instance, if a clients hip to waist ratio has decreased, yet their shoulder measurement has increased then we understand that there is a very high chance that they have lost fat around their waist and gained muscle on the shoulders.
This is where the scales still come in handy. If they are used alongside our other metrics then they can still give us an idea if we are on the right track.
It is also very dependent on the client as a client that has more fat to lose will want to be seeing the number on the scales dropping faster than someone with less to lose.
We suggest that you don’t pay much attention to this number unless you also understand what the variables may be and that the scales shouldn’t be used as a stand alone tool.
Losing weight is easy, but losing fat whilst maintaining muscle mass is a lot more difficult. This is called body recomposition.
Strength is a great indicator on whether or not you are maintaining your muscles mass. When eating in a caloric deficit (dieting) you don’t want to rapidly lose all of your strength. You should still even be able to hit personal best lifts while losing weight.
If you do find that your strength is rapidly declining alongside your weight then you need to re-evaluate your diet.
There is a reason you see hundreds of these photos on your social media. They are a great reminder on how far you have come on your journey and serve as a great motivator.
Its extremely difficult to see the small day to day changes, especially when you look at yourself in the mirror a bit more than you should.
If you start to feel as though you aren’t getting anywhere and you’re getting frustrated, progress photos are an amazing way to show you that the changes are happening.
We like to suggest that even if our clients aren’t confident to share these photos with us that they take them anyway and put them somewhere safe to be referred to later on. When the months have passed and they see the huge transformation they are no longer embarrassed buy their starting photos but empowered by what they have achieved.
Hopefully now the scales seem a little less evil!