5 Reasons to Toss the Scale as a Measure of Exercise Success

5 Reasons to Toss the Scale as a Measure of Exercise Success

Posted on: October 23, 2015

It’s nice when the scale shows you a number that makes you happy, but the scale cannot tell you how fit you are. If the scale is making you feel like a failure, it’s time to look at the numbers differently. 

5 reasons to not use a scale for measuring weight loss success - Mercy Fitness North Canton Ohio

Most people start an exercise program to lose weight as their primary goal. So, they constantly watch the scale from week to week in hopes of seeing the numbers drop. However, when the numbers don’t move the direction you want them to, frustration can settle in, making exercising a chore. 

Let me explain why the scale is not always the best way to see progress.

Your body’s “makeup” or composition is always changing.

When you begin an exercise program, you will gain some muscle. Muscle increases your body’s ability to burn fat. Fat loss doesn’t always show up on the scale. 

Taking circumference measurements may be a better alternative and show a more true result. Take note also of how your clothes are fitting. Did you have to tighten your belt?

There is a balancing act going on inside your body when you start exercising. You gain muscle and lose fat so the scale may not move at all. Using the scale as your only means of measurement may be a mistake, and this can frustrate you to the point of giving up on your weight loss goals.

The scale may also show fluctuations in water retention or glycogen storage.

As weird as it sounds, the less water you drink, the more your body will retain it. Your body is all about balance. If you don’t drink enough water in order to avoid dehydration, your body holds on to all the water it can.

In addition, highly processed foods also contain increased salt levels. Salt can also make your body hold onto water, making that scale look like it’s lying to us every time we step on it.  

Glycogen is an energy reserve that is stored in our muscles in order for them to move. Sometimes this energy can weigh more than a pound, and your body uses three to four pounds of water to store it – again making it seem like you’ve gained weight when you weight in. 

Getting a better picture of why the scale changes daily? Your weight can change about two pounds every day. Unless you have changed your food intake, this weight change is normal body function and have nothing to do with fat loss. If you’re obsessing over numbers on the scale, you can see where these factors mentioned above can make it frustrating.

There are other numbers to focus on besides the scale.

What if you could measure progress and not worry about what the scale says? If the scale has not moved and you have not adjusted your “diet,” this is the proper food intake to maintain your body’s current needs. Write down what you eat and drink for three days. That’s what your body needs to function daily. This is your basic caloric need. When you know your basic number, you can reduce that number to lose weight.

You can also rely on your own instincts. If you’re not making progress, obviously your current program is not working and you need to make adjustments. Don’t be afraid to change. The weight loss process is constantly changing. You have to be ready to change with it.

Exercising for health instead of weight loss can be more motivating.

Instead of weight loss as your primary goal, exercise for your health. If you exercise to feel better rather than to change how your body looks, you are more likely to stay with the program. When you start feeling better and notice you can exercise for longer periods of time without getting tired, those benefits start to motivate and make you want more. In the process, your body starts to change also. So, as an extra benefit, those pounds start dropping even though you’re not keeping a constant eye on the scale.

Your eyes can be a better way to determine weight loss.

How do you look in the mirror? Do your clothes fit differently? Do your muscles look more firm? Remember this is trial and error. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Tweak your program and discover what makes your body change. It doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient and keep going.

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Live near Canton, Ohio, and need help with a new approach to exercise? Contact Mercy Health & Fitness, located in North Canton, for more information.

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