When people start a new routine to lose weight, they are often anxious to see results. Naturally, they turn to the scale to measure progress. However, relying on the scale can be problematic for the following reasons:
1. Weight gain can be for other reasons.
Your body weight can constantly fluctuate with the time of day, meals, or recent workouts. Most people weigh more at night because of daytime dietary consumption and water retention. Starch or salty foods can increase water retention. Women can retain more water around menstruation. If you’re really working your muscles like with weight lifting or running, then your muscles will retain water to rebuild. Hormones, medications, or other conditions could also be affecting your weight loss rate. Thus, weight gain or stalling is not always due to your or your routine’s shortcomings!
2. You may be gaining muscle weight.
The fact that muscle is more dense than fat is well-established now. This means if you took identical masses of muscle and fat (i.e. identical sizes), the muscle will weigh a lot more than the fat. If you are building muscle in your workouts, you are going to gain muscle weight. Just remember that muscle is leaner than fat. Look up images of fat versus muscle mass or of people with different body fat compositions. You will see that a person can look dramatically more toned and muscular at a higher weight than when they were less muscular at a lower weight. Thus, weight is not indicative of how lean your body looks, where you can look leaner at a higher weight with a larger muscle ratio than at a lower weight with smaller muscle ratio. A “toned” or athletic build is the new in, so don’t be afraid to build muscle, ladies!
3. You can unnecessarily discourage yourself.
If you are relying on the scale to map your progress, then any slow progress can disappoint you. Remember that you may be gaining or maintaining weight for the aforementioned reasons. Avoid incorrectly blaming your regimen for any lack of progress. Blaming your regimen may result in you giving up or slacking. You risk undoing any progress and even wrecking it if your indulge out of guilt or disappointment. You have to remember that progress takes time. New routines can take time before showing results. Don’t be too anxious and give up just because you’re not seeing results right away. As long as you’re following a good regimen, you should see results in time. (You may want to review my earlier article that covers mentally preparing for a new diet.)
4. Checking the scale can become an unwanted habit.
You probably know people who don’t seem to diet or exercise, yet always look fit and don’t weigh themselves regularly. People who follow a healthy regimen don’t have to watch their weight, because their body will naturally regulate itself. Even if they splurge on a 10-day cruise, they can rely on their regular lifestyle to undo any damage. In contrast, if you’re constantly checking the scale, you’re stalling your ability to live life without dietary rules and restrictions. My objective with LTBY is to guide you towards living healthily without feeling restricted.
Yes, the scale can be a good measure of success in the long run, but you just shouldn’t rely on weighing yourself too frequently when you are first starting a new regimen. Understand that as long as you’re making healthy changes to your diet and/or lifestyle, your body is benefitting, even if the scale doesn’t show it. In time, your body should catch up and reflect your healthy changes. You may notice smaller measurements first even if your weight doesn’t drastically change. If you really feel stalled, you can read this prior article about ways to change your routine. No matter weight, you have to remember that change can take time. How quickly you see results, such as with weight, depends on factors like your starting weight, starting dietary and lifestyle habits, and how much of a change you are making.