Let’s be real here.
The scale is kind of a bitch.
You can see the number there go up and down more times than you and your prom date did at the end of the night.
It is a good tool to measure how much your body weighs at any given moment.
And it can even be a good tool to give you an idea of whether you are losing body fat over time. But not always.
By the end of this article, you will have some reliable ways to track your fat loss progress besides what the scale tells you.
And by the end of this article, you will be able to improve your relationship with the scale.
All you have to do is read the entire article.
No skipping, no skimming.
Sit down and read it.
Cool, let’s get into it.
Why Is The Scale Not The Best Tool?
Before we get into the ways to track your progress aside from the scale, I want to talk to you about its flaws.
You may have been led to believe that the most reliable tool to track body fat loss is by stepping on the scale every morning.
Now this might include a little ritual beforehand.
Maybe you’re praying to the scale gods, and hoping (oh please oh please oh please) that the scale is down today.
Aaaand then you step on and it’s up two pounds from yesterday.
You immediately freak out, and wonder how the hell you could have gained two pounds overnight.
First thing I want you to do here is take a big, deep breath.
In through the nose, out through the mouth.
Next thing I want you to do is understand that the only way to gain 2 pounds of body fat overnight is by eating 13 Big Macs worth of calories over your maintenance calories.
One pound of fat stores 3,500 calories. So you have to be in a 7,000 calorie surplus to gain that much overnight.
So how did the scale go up two pounds?
There are many ways that water retention can make the number on the scale higher than it was the day before, including but not limited to:
– Eating more carbs or sodium
– Needing to poo
– It being that time of the month.
I’m not going to go into why these things happen here, since this is supposed to be an article about OTHER ways than using the scale to track progress. However, if you’re interested to know more, you can check out here where I deep dive into that.
BUT, I want you to remember, that fluctuations in the scale are normal, and even to be expected. It does NOT mean you gained body fat overnight.
3 Ways To Track Fat Loss Progress Aside From The Scale
1.) Progress Pictures
This is my favorite way to indicate progress.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
And two pictures side by side is worth more than a three digit number.
This is my close friend, and online coaching client Christine
She looks amazing right?-
She’s been working with me for about 8 months, and is one of the most hard-working, consistent humans I know.
Your first thought is probably… wow Christine lost a lot of weight, good for her!
Well, guess what…
Between these two pictures, she is the same weight.
But she clearly made a lot of progress.
How is that even possible?
Read on, my friend.
Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss
Losing weight and losing fat are two very different things.
You can lose 10lbs of fat, and gain 10 lbs of muscle, and you will look completely different.
However, that 3 digit number we so highly read into will be exactly the same.
(Case and point in Christine)
You may have heard that muscle weights more than fat.
While there is some truth to that, it’s important to understand something.
One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the same thing… one pound.
On the same note, one pound of leaves weighs the same thing as one pound of steel.
But they take up a different amount of space.
So one pound of muscle takes up less space on your body than a pound of fat does.
So when you go back and look at Christine’s pictures (feel free to scroll up for a second look), you can probably surmise that she lost fat, and gained muscle.
She was in a calorie deficit, eating plenty of protein, and strength training hard.
Next, I’ll tell you another story about another online coaching client who would like to remain anonymous, so let’s just call her Jane.
Jane was another one, who wasn’t losing weight on the scale, and she was frustrated. I mean real frustrated.
She was so frustrated that every one of her check ins with me I put on a full suit of medieval heavy armor before opening her messages. Just in case she came at me.
So I told her to take her scale and hide it in her closet for a month.
Instead, we’d take measurements once a week.
After a month of measurements, she lost 1.25 inches off her waist.
She took the scale out of the closet, stepped on, and it was the same exact weight as it was four weeks prior.
But now she knew she was losing inches.
She was making progress.
And now that she knew that, I put my battle armor away for our check ins.
3.) How Your Clothes Fit
Sorry not sorry, I’m going to hype up one last online coaching client here. Incidentally, her name is also Christine. And it’s not the same Christine. And these two aren’t even the extent of Christines I coach (so if your name is Christine click that link directly above, you’ll fit right in).
Here’s a tale of a young lady who has lost weight on the scale, but the number isn’t super high. Again, just like Jane, she was frustrated. Especially because she was struggling with consistency. But she never ever gave up.
And then one day she sent me this picture.
I don’t think I need to explain this… but in case I do.
Here’s an undeniable fact for you.
If your clothes are getting to big for you, you are losing body fat.
So, is the scale bad?
All it is, is a way to measure how much your body weighs at a given point in time.
That includes your body fat, muscle mass, organs, bones, the food in your stomach, and the poo you may have not let out yet.
It is just data.
And you can use this data, along with all the other forms of tracking your progress mentioned above, to paint a picture of your entire fat loss progress.
If any of the above things apply, you are making progress.
That means if you are losing weight on the scale, seeing progress in your pictures, losing inches, or your clothes fit differently… you are making progress.
So keep going, don’t give up.
You got this.