I’ve worked with countless clients, and even prospective clients, who have had the heaviest fixations with the number they see on the scale every morning. THOUGH I do believe it’s an essential data tracking point for progress in any fitness or body composition goal, it surely is not the only data point, nor is it the one we should fixate ourselves on. I mean it! One day, our weight could be 5 pounds under normal, and the very next day, it can show 3-5 pounds over our typical weight; it varies so much, especially the more variables in your daily habits vary as well. To name a few: caloric intake, types of foods and how your body reacts to their ingredients, water intake, hours of sleep, levels of stress, hormonal balances/imbalances, timing near the menstrual cycle, and many more.
The daily scale number isn’t accurate as to how much our body has changed beyond a temporary state–it simply measures our mass’s force in relation to gravity.
Here are 5 signs of progress that do NOT include the number on the scale:
- Progress pictures. Taking pictures of yourself, as you are working towards a certain goal (fat loss, muscle mass) provides a great visual to demonstrate areas of your body that may be changing over time. People don’t realize the day-to-day change, but over 90 days, you can certainly start to see a difference! Try it: take a picture of yourself from the front, side and back. Take one each week and compare it at each month marker. Determine areas of improvement!
- Tape measurements. Taking tape measurements is an easy and affordable way to generally track body composition. Since different people will lose fat, or gain muscle in different places at different rates, taking tape measurements can be an effective measure for progress with data that has less variance than our daily weigh ins (assuming that it’s the same person taking the same measurements in the same places).
- Energy levels. Rating your daily and weekly energy levels from 1 (constantly tired, exhausted) to 5 (consistent, steady or high energy) can help you determine how your body is reacting to the way you are fueling it for your goals. Also keep in mind where you start. If you were someone who constantly rated a “1” even rating “3”s consistently has marked progress over time, even if you aren’t averaging 4’s or 5’s. The same goes for your mood–are you generally more upbeat and optimistic, or sluggish or pessimistic?
- Skin complexion. The largest organ in our body can also be one of the easiest determinants for how we are fueling ourselves. Typically, choosing to eat whole, minimally to non-processed foods as well as staying properly hydrated will show clearer or smoother skin. Read more on the correlation between dermatology and diet from the U.S. National Library of Medicine here.
- Body Composition Analysis. While this may be a bit less accessible and budget-friendly as using a tape measure, this type of analysis can offer valuable information about your body composition that is much more in-depth than what reads on a scale or with a tape measure or pictures. If you’re into data, you can definitely dig the analysis reports from something like say, an InBody Scan machine. These machines typically measure what our bodies are made of from water weight, dry mass (including muscle mass) as well as fat mass. I’ve taken a few scans myself, and its helped me adjust the amount of calories I needed each day to support my training as well as maintain a healthy, athletic body fat percentage for the sport of CrossFit. If you’re interested in learning more about this option, feel free to CONTACT me or schedule a FREE consultation, which includes a FREE InBody Scan (scroll to consultation request form) if you are in the local area (this is upwards of a $50 value in other areas!)
So seriously. Throw the towel in with your internal battle with the scale–in the LARGER sense, if you are working diligently towards a health-related goal, there are many more markers of progress and success. Also, remember that there is NOT always a linear path to success! Appreciate the progress and your successes will become much more apparent along the way.