Checking your weight is a typical part of losing weight. It has the ability to change how you feel about yourself or the efforts you are putting in.
But how useful is a scale when it comes to tracking weight loss progress? The truth is the scale is deceptive and is not the best indicator of fat loss. The number on the scale includes everything from your muscles, fat, bones, organs to food and water.
You will also find that your weight changes throughout the day depending on what and how often you eat and drink or how often you go to the bathroom. You might gain weight on the scale if, for instance, you’re doing HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and strength training. The scale may not change even though you’re getting leaner and your clothes are fitting a bit looser; this is because you may be building lean muscle tissue at the same time you’re losing fat.
An increase in weight can lead to a decrease in inches, as muscle takes up less space than fat. Muscle burns more calories at any given time than fat so, with the increased muscle, the body is expending more energy. The increase in energy expenditure can help lead to a caloric deficit which is needed to shed fat. It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat. More lean muscle makes it much easier for the body to reach this shortfall.
A weightlifter’s body composition is a lot different from a marathon runner. The weightlifter would definitely be heavier because of extra muscle, but it doesn’t mean he’s overweight or fat. Knowing your body composition is crucial information if you really want to get results and, unfortunately, the typical scale doesn’t tell you that.
So do not let the scale derail you. Here are some ways to track your progress:
Take progress pictures
Pictures, they say, don’t lie and, when it comes to weight loss, this adage is true. Taking pictures along the way helps to track progress. Creating a before and after collage will help to compare and contrast. On the days when motivation is low, looking at those pictures can give you the very boost you need.
Go by how your clothes fit
When you start to lose fat, your clothes will fit more loosely. It helps to have an outfit that is a little too tight or a pair of jeans that don’t fit. Every now and again try them on and compare how they fit. Clothes don’t lie.
Take your measurements
Taking your measurements at different points helps you figure out if you are, in fact, losing fat. Measure your bust, waist, hips, thighs, arms and neck. Write it down either in a notepad or on your phone and track either once or twice a month. Seeing the changes may motivate you to keep going.
Perform fit tests
Testing your strength and agility is a very good indicator of progress. For example, track how many pushups you can do in one minute on week one; try it again in week four and compare. These are tangible, reachable goals that give you more of that instant gratification the scale doesn’t.
What it really comes down to is sticking with it. You might not be able to see all the changes that are happening but, if you are eating right and working out, then you’re on the right track whether the scale changes or not.