As we close in on summer, like many people, you might be looking to lose a little body fat. I want to encourage you to step off the scale and focus on better measures of progress.
I get that what the scale says has some bearing on how you are progressing. But it can be a deceptive little bugger at times, tricking you into believing that you’re not actually making much headway, when, in fact, you’re making more progress than you might believe.
Part of the issue is that you’ve been lied to for a long, long time. You’re told that there is such a thing as ideal weight. That there is a right answer to the question, “What’s the right weight for me?” When, in reality, no such answer exists.
Another part of the issue is that fat loss and weight loss are 2 different things.
Weight loss is weight changes from any source.
That could be changes in body fat, changes in lean mass, changes in water weight or food volume. I mean, if you give blood, that will result in a weight change of about half a kilo. It’s not going to change your body shape at all, but the scale will show progress.
It’s not that weight doesn’t matter at all, it’s just that it’s a very small part of the overall picture.
Fat loss, on the other hand, is a loss of primarily body fat.
Sure there is likely to be a small amount of lean mass loss, but if you’re not being too aggressive with your approach, the vast majority of the change will be from your body fat stores.
So, if we aren’t focussing on the scale as our indicator of progress, what should we be looking at?
Here are 5 non-scale victories you can use to measure progress:
- changes in measurements. There is a reason I ask all clients that have fat loss as part of their goal to take measurements from the get-go, and that is because they will likely see changes in the tape measure before there is any kind of change in the scale reading.
- changes in how your clothes fit. There may be a particular item of clothing you want to feel more comfortable in. Or something you would like to get back to wearing. Again, there is likely to be progress on this front before the scale starts to budge.
- consistency with your new habits. Building new habits is essential for creating long-lasting changes. In the beginning, it can be hard to follow new habits consistently, so tracking your habits and looking for progress here is a great way to measure progress. Because even if they aren’t perfect, they show that you are taking the right steps.
- you are being more consistent with your workouts and daily movement. While workouts aren’t about fat loss, they are about building some more lean mass and that can have a huge effect on your metabolism and daily calorie burn. Daily movement, think step count, plays a bigger role in fat loss, as well as improving your aerobic cardio fitness. Both help you make progress, and by becoming more consistent with them, you are stacking up wins that will compound over time to generate better results.
- you become more relaxed around food and your dietary approach. This is certainly more subjective, but no less important a step in your progress. Becoming more relaxed in your approach to food, realizing that you don’t have to be perfect, that there is a bigger range of foods you can enjoy and still make progress, actually makes your ability to make progress that bit greater. You have less stress around food, you are less likely to make all-or-nothing decisions, and that drop in stress makes the whole process easier.
So, don’t fixate on the scale. You may even choose to sideline it for the next month or 12, and focus instead on these non-scale wins that are much better indicators of progress.