You shouldn’t be judging yourself or anyone else on what the scale says – weight isn’t what causes health problems, excess fat is.
The scale is one of those inventions I sometimes think many of us would be better off without. Don’t get me wrong, the scale is a very useful tool; the problem is how much stock ladies tend to put into that one little number.
I’ve seen too many women live and die by whether or not the number on the scale gets smaller. Women who work their butts off every day and look amazing will deflate in an instant if that number isn’t smaller than it was a week, or even a few days, ago. Quit beating yourselves up and quit giving a damn about how much you weigh – it doesn’t determine your success!
It’s Time to Find Other Means to Track Your Progress
Throw your scale out. OK, well at least hide it for a while. In reality, you shouldn’t be using it to track your progress anyway for the simple fact that it’s not giving you a full picture of the changes happening inside of your body. There are other, more effective, high-tech and even low-tech ways to track your progress.
If you’re looking for accuracy, a Bod Pod or DEXA scan are two ways to track even the smallest changes in fat mass and muscle. Many trainers can perform skin caliper measurements and, while they’re not as accurate as the other two methods, can still be a great way to track changes (just make sure to have the same person do it each time to minimize intra-personal error). There are also a ton of body comp devices on the market, but purchase with caution since many of them can be pretty inaccurate.
For the more do-it-yourself kind of gals, take a soft tape measure and jot down the circumference of the major problem areas – upper arm, waist, hips, and thighs. Don’t fall into the scale trap here; measure once every month or two – good things take time.
If you don’t want to take the time to measure, snap a few mirror selfies every once in a while. Perhaps the simplest method to determine if your body is changing is how your clothes fit. Are you filling out the spots you want and have a little room to spare in the others? Can you finally get those skinny jeans not only over your hips but zipped and buttoned too? Perfect!
My personal favorite way to track progress is not by how my body looks or how much I “weigh” but what my body can do. If I can lift more today than I did last week, if I can nail that yoga pose I’ve been working on for the last few days; if my 5K time is a few seconds faster than last time, if I can do awesome stunts in the backyard while playing ninja turtles with my kids – then life is good. Focus on your health, fitness and happiness and your body will follow suit.
Change Your Training Focus
Since you’re already changing the way you determine success, now’s also a great time to change your training focus – like instead of trying to lose fat, try adding muscle. The funny thing about fat is it doesn’t weigh that much, it just takes up a lot of space. Muscle, on the other hand, is a very dense tissue. This means five pounds of fat will be a lot more obvious and bulky on your body than five pounds of smooth, lean muscle tissue. Consider this scenario for example: Suzy and Sally both weigh 140 pounds. Suzy has 35% body fat while Sally has 25% body fat (this means Sally has more muscle than Suzy). Because of this difference in body fat, not weight (since they both weigh the same), Sally wears a size 4 and Suzy wears a size 8. See where I’m going here? If Suzy wants to get smaller, she needs to worry about changing her body composition, not her weight.
It’s easy for women to get stuck in a trap of doing more and eating less in an effort to get to that golden number.
Unfortunately, this is the type of cycle that’s going to lead to failure every time. Your body’s primary goal is to survive and that means if it thinks it’s starving, it’s going to hold onto everything it can. Not to mention the fact that you’re going to lose whatever precious muscle you do have.
Instead of focusing on making yourself smaller, work on adding that lean muscle we talked about. Increasing the amount of muscle in your body has a primary and secondary effect on overall body composition – more muscle will directly reduce your body fat percentage and, over time, that added muscle will burn extra calories thereby further mitigating your body fat.
While adding muscle may not get you down to your high school weight or whatever magic number you’ve had stuck in your head, I guarantee you’ll look and feel better than ever.