I have a love-hate relationship with the scale. After a few days of working out, I can’t wait to step on it and see what changes have taken place. More often than not, I come away disappointed. Sometimes it is because it doesn’t move. Other times it doesn’t move or worse, it moves in the wrong direction!
Fitness fans know that the scale is not the best way to measure progress. Its allure is that it is easy to check and it provides a baseline measurement to track.
If I wanted to the scale fast, I would have to cut a lot of calories out of my diet a run 20 miles a day. But that is not my goal. My fitness goal is to build muscle and create an athletic physique. The scale is not my friend in this quest.
Other measurements like pictures, tape measurements or BMI measurements offer better information. Yet, I can’t resist the allure of standing on the scale seeing what it says.
Understanding What the Scale Is Telling You
To help you understand what is going on with the scale, remember these two things:
First, begin tracking your food. You can’t outrun your fork is one of my favorite sayings. You can’t fully understand what is going on with the scale until you track what you are eating.
Be obsessive about it for two weeks and see what you learn. The results may surprise you. As a bonus tip, track your water intake as well. Some of your biggest weight fluctuations come from water retention.
Second, track your workouts. If you don’t know where you are going then any path will get you there. Each workout should have a purpose and successive workouts should build on that purpose.
If you are working out to bulk up the scale will move differently than if you are working out to increase endurance. The point here is to have a plan and track it. Knowing your numbers provides insight into the scales movements.
Weigh In Strategies
Now that you are ready to weigh yourself and not be blindsided by what you see, here are your options for weigh-ins.
1. Weekly. Your daily weight can be affected by a variety of things. Your previous day’s fluid intake and diet can create fluctuations in your weight. When opting for the weekly weigh-in, set a regular date and time. We are creatures of habit with our weekly routines not varying from week to week. Because of this, pick a day that you feel is your best.
For example, a lot of people eat out on Friday night. Fast food has a ton of Sodium which will cause you to retain water. So if you stepped on the scale the next day, you could expect the scale to either not move or go in the wrong direction.
Pick a day of the week that follows a normal day of food and water consumption. This will allow you to have a clean system, providing a better picture of what is going on.
2. Daily. Daily weigh-ins will show a lot of fluctuations. Daily measurements allow you to see trends. Looking at daily weight measurements over a months time frame paints an interesting picture.
Look for correlations between the spikes and dips with your food and water intake. Also, see what you have been doing with your workouts. Did your increased cardio work cause a dip or lifting heavier weights cause a spike? These are the questions you can begin to ask and answer when you compare the data.
Just as with the weekly weigh-in, you need to be consistent with the time of day you do a daily weigh in. The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning after you wake up. This is when you are at your lightest and it is easy to be consistent. Consistency is key.
Making Friends with the Scale
While the scale isn’t the best measurement for fitness, it can have a positive impact on long-term weight loss. Research shows that regular weigh-in’s help you lose more weight compared to sporadic measurements. Researchers found that those with daily weight measurements managed their diets better and tended to have better self-images.
Should you weigh yourself every day? The answer is, it depends. It depends on what your goals are. If your goal is weight loss, then weighing yourself two to three times a week should be enough. For an basic fitness goal, a weekly weigh in will work.
The key to becoming friends is to remember this: it doesn’t always tell the right story. Sometimes it won’t budge, even though you are doing everything right.
The best approach to tracking weight loss is the marathon approach. Stop looking for quick short-term losses. Instead, focus on the long term and remember that slow and steady wins the weight loss race.