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Oct 12 / Jeremy & Kim

Tracking Progress – Rules of the Scale


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The most commonly used tool for tracking fat loss progress is, of course, the scale.  This is understandable as most people happen to have a scale lying around and it will tell you if your body weight is going down, staying the same, or going up.  It is important to remember, however, that your body weight is all that the scale can tell you.  It doesn’t tell you body fat percentage or your lean mass weight. It cannot tell you if the weight lost was fat or if the weight gained was muscle.  In fact, if you are dong resistance training while dieting for fat loss, you may have gained 2 pounds of lean mass and lost 3 pounds of fat, but the scale would only tell you that you lost 1 pound.  Hardly an accurate picture!  Therefore, relying solely on a scale to track your progress can be misleading.  Because of this, I think it is important to have a few rules when using a scale as the predominant method for tracking progress.

Pose Not Recommended

[<–This is not how we recommend using a scale! Especially because she is breaking rule #4]

Rule #1: Purchase a quality digital scale

If you are going to be using a scale to help track your fat loss progress then you need to make sure that you have an accurate scale that tells your weight to at least the tenth of a pound.  It is a good idea to make sure the scale tells you your weight to the tenth of a pound so you can really understand your weight changes.  You have too much riding on the information you get from your scale to question whether or not it is giving you accurate feedback.  Think about it, if you’ve lost 1.4 pounds in one week but your scale only tells you that you lost 1 pound then your scale is doing you a disservice.  1.4 pounds in one week is a lot more progress than just 1 pound and you deserve to know that.

Rule #2: Never weigh yourself more than once per week

Your body will need time to adjust to your new diet and exercise routine.  One or two days is simply not enough time for your body to react to the changes you are putting it through.  Weigh yourself.  Take note of it.  Then move on.  Focus on other things.  Think about how you’re going to reduce carbs, think about how hard you are going to exercise, think about your work, family, anything else, but do not obsess about whether or not your last workout made you losing weight.  Staring at the scale does not help you lose weight!

After a week has gone by, you will see how much weight you have lost.  Then you can adjust your calories and/or exercise depending on your progress.  If you’ve lost 2 lbs, congratulations!  Well done.  No reason to change a thing.  If you didn’t reach your weight loss goal for the week then take a second look at your diet and consider altering your workout so you burn more calories.  Regardless, don’t get too discouraged in the beginning.  Sometimes your body needs a bit of time to realize what you are asking it to do.  Once you get the weight loss momentum going, your progress will accelerate and your efforts will be greatly rewarded.

Rule #3: Pick a day and a time and be consistent

Multiple factors influence your body weight throughout the day.  It is very likely that if you weighed yourself at three different times in the same day, you would have a different weight each time.  No, this does not mean your scale is broken.  What it means is that your body weight changes throughout the day depending on things like how much water you’ve been drinking or when you last ate a meal.  So, pick one day of the week and pick a specific time of that day when you will weigh yourself.  Then only weigh yourself on that day and at that time.

For example, if you tend to be more social on Friday and Saturday night then you would probably not choose to weigh myself on Saturday or Sunday morning since the previous nights festivities might skew your results.  Some people like to weigh themselves in the morning before they’ve eaten breakfast.  They haven’t eaten in 6-8 hours so they know the scale will tell them their body weight without being influenced by the weight of a recent meal.  Others like to weigh themselves before dinner because they’ve been active throughout most of the day.  It doesn’t really matter which you choose, as long as pick a time where your weight is least likely to be influenced by your lifestyle and you are consistent.

We can fix that

This would be a much better scale if it read to the tenth of a pound!

Rule #4: Do not wear clothes on the scale

This may sound obvious but I tons of people who make this mistake.  If you are standing on a scale with clothes on, then you are not really sure how much you weigh.  All you really know is how much you weigh with those particular clothes on.  This is a big problem for two reasons.  First, clothes are heavy!  You may be distorting your weight by as much as five pounds if you are wearing cloths.  Five pounds is a huge distortion.  Do not do this to yourself. The second problem is that you will have to wear the exact same clothes every time you weigh yourself in order to know if your weight has changed at all. Otherwise the weight difference could be all in the clothes. Do yourself a favor and get naked before you get weighed.

Tracking your progress is an important part of achieving your health and fitness goals.  If all you have is a scale and you are not interested in buying other more precise fat loss measuring tools, the use the rules above to help you get the most out of the information you receive.  However, using a scale is probably the least helpful method that you can use since it is not giving you the complete story behind your weight loss or gain.  We will soon be publishing additional posts on tracking your fat loss progress.  We’ll explore other alternatives that may help you get more accurate information regarding fat loss. Stay tuned!

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