It’s Monday morning. After a weekend of socializing with friends or family, your heart is full as you reminisce on the memories you made and the fun you had. But then you remember that you may have gone a little overboard with the food you enjoyed and the cocktails you sipped. All of sudden your stomach drops and you’re filled with dread as you begrudgingly head to the scale to assess the damage. You have goals to meet, and that voice in your head shames you for straying from your diet. . .
Can you resonate with this scenario?
Wait! Before you get on that scale, let’s talk about what the scale means and what it doesn’t mean.
When it comes to weight loss, the scale can definitely be a great tool for assessing progress over time.
For example, if you weigh yourself every single day, at the same time each day, over the course of days or week you can see trends in weight loss to assess how you are progressing and whether the weight loss is occurring at a rate that is appropriate for your body. However, when it comes to day-to-day weight fluctuations, the scale really doesn’t tell us that much!
Consider the factors that can cause weight fluctuations:
- Sodium intake
- Water intake
Unless you are a robot, alterations and shifts due to these factors can cause changes in weight on the daily. Therefore, if your weekend included alcohol, high sodium foods, or foods you don’t usually eat, it’s likely you’re experiencing some inflammation that should resolve itself as you return to your usual healthy habits. There is really no cause for concern if the scale reads a bit higher tomorrow than it did yesterday.
Keep in mind that slow and steady weight loss is healthy and sustainable. The recommended rate is 1/2lb – 1lb per week. If over the course of a month you’ve lost 2 to 4lbs, you’re right on track with the recommended amount and are making great progress!
It’s also important to acknowledge what the scale does NOT measure:
- Body fat
- Muscle mass
- Waist and hips measurements
- Dietary changes
There is a tendency for individuals to place a lot of value in arbitrary numbers that fail to recognize other important attributes and measures of progress.
Here some examples:
- Maybe you deadlifted 200 pounds for the first time or ran 3 miles continuously, which you’d been working up to for months. Congratulations – that’s amazing!
- You stuck to your diet to a T for two weeks straight, which you’d been struggling with for quite some time, and finally managed to curb your incessant chocolate cravings. That’s a great accomplishment!
- You lost 3 inches of your waist and 2 inches off your hips and are feeling more confident than ever. Those measurements say a lot more about your physique improvements than the scale does.
- You’ve gained muscle definition and lost body fat and can finally rock that dress that’s been collecting dust in your closet for years. Muscle weighs more than fat. So if you’re gaining muscle, it’s possible that your physique will change while the scale stays relatively the same.
These non-scale victories are not a comprehensive list, but are all huge measures of progress that are so worth celebrating and that carry so much more value than an arbitrary number on the scale. While a great point of reference, the scale is not a concrete measure of progress and is certainly not important enough to define your self worth or be your only measure of success! Be proud of the work you’re doing to live a healthier life, and take pride in celebrating various measures of progress along your journey.