How to Measure Success Without the Scale



How to Measure Success Without the Scale

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It is safe to say just about everyone has heard the phrase “Muscle weighs more than fat.” However, many individuals remain obsessed with their scale weight. This might be attributed to fad diets or extreme weight loss television. Whatever the reason, this is truly unfortunate because the number on a scale may fool you into believing you haven’t made progress. Weight can vary by several pounds in the same day, so a scale reading should not be taken more often than once a week. The good news is there are many other better ways to measure success.

Having your body fat percentage assessed is the best way to determine your progress. This can be done by a trainer with fat calipers, or accurate equipment that might be found at a local gym. Remember, the goal of Body-for-LIFE, and the key to creating a new physique, is by improving body composition. This means increasing lean tissue and decreasing body fat. If you were to compare a pound of muscle next to a pound of fat, the muscle would be up to five times smaller than the fat! So while the scale may not change dramatically each week, usually a pound or two, you’re still losing inches and sizes. Another important note about lean tissue is that it burns a lot of energy, which means more fat loss.

If you are unable to have a body fat assessment, try taking measurements of areas such as the waist, hips, thighs, and arms. Since the muscles you are building take up less space than the fat you are burning, measurements can be a helpful way to illustrate your improvement. Another simple method is keeping track of dress and/or pant sizes, and paying attention to how clothes fit. If you are still unconvinced, why not take some photos every few weeks? You can line up the photos to see changes happening before your eyes!

Other than the concrete evidence, don’t forget the less obvious signs. For example, are you feeling more energized throughout the day? Or, are you advancing in the workouts? Perhaps in week one you started bicep curls with 10lb and now you’re starting at 20lb. Or, perhaps your cardio warm-up level 5 was a walk, and now it’s a jog.

This week, try putting the scale in a closet so it doesn’t tempt you every time you see it. Instead, try at least one of the methods above you liked best. Liberate yourself from the daily scale routine by only weighing yourself once a week, or even once every few weeks!

  • Great advice on everything.  Thanks!

  • I agree with the measure your progress without using the scale. Measuring fat is truly the best method .

  • What a great and true statement...I have, long ago, converted to using clothing (belt) to measure my success...I also use the Fat Tracker for skin fold measurements....I had bought some scales that where pretty accurate on the weight, fat and water, until I had my knee replaced and hip replaced...Now it is so far off I have to rely on other methods....John

  • SO glad I found this article. Right before I read this, I was talking to my friend complaining that I'm not seeing the weight loss progress and much as I would expect and how maybe I should try to consume less carbs.

    Then I came across this and it set me straight.

    After I finished reading it, I went and got my belt and noticed that I was down 1 more belt size from what I have been originally using!

    Progress photos are extremely important, but little things like this can help you get the "extra boost" you need when you're running into motivational issues.

    Great post and thank you SO much!

  • I really needed to read this today.  I am one of those "scale obsessed" people.  I'm only 3 weeks into the challenge and feeling frustrated with the scale numbers.  I am however, noticing the change in some of my clothes and getting compliments on me starting to slim out.  I'll be focusing on my pictures, how my clothes feel, and my monthly measurements.

  • Thanks for the 411 and putting it into a little better perspective today.  Today I was suppose to have a weigh in with some friends of mine who are holding their own sideline competition. I have an impediance body fat bathroom scale and have some questions about fat loss fluctuations.  Could you explain why a person may have a fat loss fluctuation and how that can happen?

    Thanks for the post.

  • Thanks for the comments.  I am in week four but really feel like I am still finding my way through the program.  I am a little dissappointed by the scale but I feel so much better overall that I am going to keep with the program.  I have more energy than I've had in a very long time.

  • Great advice!  Thank you!

  • The scale is a lair and can really cause depression to set in quickly. Depression will cause a defeatest attitude and usually ends in giving up. I have long forgotten the scale and now measure success on how well I feel and how those old jeans in the closet, that I have not worn in over a year, are now fitting me again. Not there yet, but the goal is in sight every day!!!

  • I was happy to read this today because, after losing 17 pounds in 7 weeks, over the last 2 weeks i've GAINED 2 pounds.  I'm really depressed about it because I don't feel I'm doing anything differently.  In fact, my strength and cardio continues to improve.  I like the idea of not using a scale, but I'm addicted to it and don't trust myself to use body fat calipers accurately and consistently.  Is there a reliable way to measure fat electronically?  Thank you.

  • I need to remember this!  This makes sense.  I have gotten stronger, can do the full 20 minutes of cardio and have noticed subtle changes.  But, I'm so impatient!!