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Having a Healthy Relationship with the Scale

In our quest to lose weight and improve our overall health, we often look for some kind of metric to measure our success.  Over time you will notice your clothes fit differently, you’ll find you can lift more on certain exercises, or you can do specific tasks that you couldn’t do before – or at least have an easier time doing something you could do before.

All of these are acceptable, and in fact great, ways to measure your progress.

Because of how easy, convenient, concrete, and absolute it is, many of us instead rely on the scale to measure our success.  This is, as you could imagine, a less productive way to measure your progress.  Not only because the only thing the scale is capable of telling you is your body’s relationship with the gravitational pull of the earth, but also because using it to get an accurate and fair assessment of your progress is very difficult.

First, always weigh yourself at the same time of day – ideally the very first thing you do in the morning.  This way, your body is in a consistent and predictable state every time.

Your weight will go through normal daily fluctuations as well.  Even though over all you may be “losing weight”, you will have days where you may be a little heavier than the day before.  These peaks and valleys can be emotionally stressful if you weigh yourself one day on a “valley”, and then not again until 2 weeks later on a “peak” day.  While you may be losing weight, those 2 numbers can give you a very different impression.

Understanding how your body operates is essential.  If you weigh yourself every day, you are essentially just measuring your fluid retention on a daily basis.  Variances in your activity, food intake, and water intake will cause that to fluctuate wildly which affects the number on the scale.  A more accurate take would be to watch your weight measurements taken on a regular basis over time.  This way the peaks and valleys of your measurements will smooth out and a trend can be established which will prove your success.

With all of that being said, I maintain that there are still much easier ways to gauge your progress, as mentioned above.  Take it from this trainer – the one who doesn’t own a scale!

About Darin Starr

Darin is an ACSM certified trainer in Asheville, North Carolina. He works with clients 1-on-1, with partners and small groups, and also teaches group fitness classes.
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