Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of men and women everywhere like stepping on the weighing scales. It is all too common that clients (especially those seeking fat loss) pin all of their progress to whether the scales is making significant progress week in week out. They can be great for monitoring that everything is moving in the right direction over a long period of time. But if I am completely honest, you don’t NEED to use them at all!
They are one of the most misunderstood pieces of equipment. People tend to focus on the number that appears on the screen and ignore all of the other variables. A client’s body shape may have changed dramatically with waist and hip measurements both showing progress. However, if the scale weight hasn’t dropped considerably, they aren’t happy.
Despite having a very ‘good’ week, you could be at a higher weight than the previous week. You may step on the scales as soon as you wake, only to step on a few hours later and see two or three pounds difference. Frustrating to say the least. So why does scale weight fluctuate so widely? Lets explore:
Depending on how much water you consume can dramatically affect your weight. Weigh yourself before and after a big glass of water. The scales number will change. So try and keep a consistent water intake every day. Multiply your bodyweight (kg) by 0.033 and this is how many litres of water a day you should roughly consume without exercise. Every time you exercise make sure you add at least an extra 500ml.
Carbohydrate intake variations. When you eat carbohydrate your body converts and stores this energy as glycogen. Your body’s cells need to stay hydrated to perform optimally. For every gram of glycogen that is stored, your muscles hold on to three grams of water.
Menstrual Cycle. Compared to us males, the female body is so much more complex. Throughout the different stages of the menstrual cycle, a women’s bodyweight will vary. Studies also show that women tend to crave foods that contain higher fat and carbohydrate. Linking to my previous point, this could skew the scale weight reading.
Weigh yourself before and after an exercise session and you will notice that after your workout you weigh less. Once you rehydrate following your workout and consume your post-workout meal your weight should return to pre-training reading.
So how can you monitor your progress whilst keeping your sanity?
It may sound basic, but sometimes the best way to monitor progress is by simply looking in the mirror and how you feel wearing your clothes. Or if you want a more accurate approach, grab yourself a tape measure and a camera. Take measurements of your waist and hips, and any other body areas you want to track. Then stand in your underwear and take a photo of yourself from the front, side and back. Retake these measurements and photos every two to three weeks.
Feel free to use the scales as a tool alongside my recommendations. Just please don’t rest the entire measurement of your success on something with such an uncertain degree of accuracy. Whichever approaches you are taking with your exercise and nutrition, stay consistent. Relax and the results will come.