I’d like to introduce you to Heather, one of my online clients. Heather’s progress in the few months we’ve been working together provides the perfect example of why you should throw out your scale!
Heather came to me wanting to lose body fat, increase muscle definition and generally feel better and have more energy. She was determined to put in the work at the gym and make some changes to her nutrition (which included eating MORE).
Check out these amazing progress photos! As part of the online fitness coaching I do, clients submit progress photos bi-weekly along with their measurements and answers to questions.
In this comparison we can visibly see a smaller and tighter waist, less back fat, lifted glutes (butt), more back muscles showing, etc.
But here’s the kicker ——-> Heather’s weight difference from the first set to the second set is only FOUR POUNDS!!!! That’s all. Four pounds less.
Can you imagine if I didn’t have Heather take those photos or do measurements? She would feel so disappointed in herself for “only losing 4 lbs”. Yet, the photos tell a difference story. One where she has clearly made the progress she desired (of course the journey continues).
Heather had this to say:
I have been working with Lydia for 3 months and have achieved results far beyond my expectations! My body is stronger, more muscular and I feel much healthier. I now have the energy to play with my 9 year old and not get tired out!!
Lydia spent time getting to know me, my likes and dislikes and then developed a personalized program tailored specifically to my body and my lifestyle. When we started working together Lydia told me that if I followed the program and nutrition guidelines she gave me that I would achieve the results I wanted. The results have been spectacular!! In 4 short weeks I lost 4.5 inches off my waist!!
It has been an amazing experience working with Lydia! I can honestly say I’m in better shape now than when I was 20!! And to think I was dreading turning 40!!
I’m so proud of the progress Heather has made thus far and I have to point out that it’s because of her dedication and consistency in doing all her workouts and her excellent adherence to the nutrition guidelines I gave her. And she’s not doing anything crazy. Just 3-4 weight training sessions and eating a good balance of food – no restrictions.
Now, back to the scale…
How often has the scale affected how you feel about yourself?
This is so common. You are feeling great, having a good day, confident in yourself and then … you jump on the scale (just to see) and BAM. Good day destroyed.
Now you feel like crap. You don’t like the number you see and now you feel fat and gross (even if you didn’t feel that way 2 seconds before).
What the heck? Why do we do that to ourselves? I don’t know when the scale became such a big indicator of progress, but that needs to stop. Right now. Sure, the scale can be a (somewhat) useful tool, but there are a few other, better, ways to check your progress.
Coach Lydia’s Priority List of Ways to Check Progress
Here’s my list of how you should prioritize the various ways to monitor progress, whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, more energy, just feeling better, and so on.
1. How do you FEEL?
Before any quantitative data, think about the qualitative changes. Are you feeling better, do you have more energy, has sleep improved, is your mindset more positive, are you engaging in positive self-talk more often, are you better able to avoid comparison with others? I would also include here how do you feel in your clothes? If you’re trying to lose weight, are your clothes looser or fitting differently/better?
Pictures are great because they allow you to compare snapshots of time. When taken under the same circumstances (camera roughly same distance away, same lighting, same posing, etc) they really let you see how your body has changed.
The mirror is NOT the same. Trust me, when I look in a mirror, I see something different then when I look at a photo of me. Plus, when you see yourself every day you don’t notice the small changes.
Measurements help verify the story pictures tell. For example, Heather lost 1.5 inches from her chest, 4.5 inches from her waist, 1.5 inches from her hips, and 1.5 inches from each leg. This data confirms what we see in the comparison photo.
If you have access to a device that measures body fat and muscle mass, this can also be useful, but I find these machines to be fairly inaccurate, so I caution using them. Taking body fat measurements with calipers can be more accurate, but human error can also come into play.
I don’t hate the scale. In fact, you actually don’t have to throw out your scale, but you should definitely reduce the importance you place on the number you see.
Some problems with the scale include:
• The scale doesn’t know the difference between fat weight and muscle weight.
• It can become an obsession to focus on the numbers (and then you miss other progress).
• The scale doesn’t account for mental and emotional progress.
However, if you are looking to lose a lot of weight, it can help you know you are heading in the right direction (although I would argue that your clothes will let you know too).
If you do keep your scale, I recommend only weighing yourself once a week or less, under the same conditions. Hopefully I’ve convinced you that there are better ways to determine progress and you will focus on those instead.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop me a line or comment on my social media pages.
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