When starting a fitness journey, people often have visual goals and it is a frequently asked question we get in the gym. Many of us turn to the scale as the ultimate measure of progress. However, relying solely on this numeric indicator may not be the most accurate or motivating way to track your fitness journey.
Muscle vs. Fat
One of the primary reasons scales fall short as a measure of progress is that they don't differentiate between muscle and fat. Muscle is denser than fat, which means that as you build muscle through strength training, you may not see a significant change in your overall weight. In fact, you might even see the number on the scale increase, leading to frustration and a false sense of failure. As you're losing body fat, you will most likely be gaining muscle.
Body Composition Matters More
A more accurate gauge of progress is your body composition, which takes into account the ratio of muscle to fat. Instead of fixating on weight alone, consider tracking changes in your body fat percentage. You could use tools like callipers, bioelectrical impedance scales, or even professional body composition assessments for a more precise understanding of your body's composition.
Non-Scale Victories: Celebrating Achievements Beyond Weight
The gym is not just about shedding pounds; it's about overall health and well-being. Focusing solely on the scale can make you overlook various non-scale victories such as increased strength, improved endurance, better flexibility, and enhanced mental well-being. Celebrate milestones like lifting heavier weights, completing a challenging workout, or consistently sticking to your fitness routine.
Water Retention and Hormonal Fluctuations
The body's water retention and hormonal fluctuations can significantly impact weight on a daily or weekly basis. Factors such as sodium intake, stress, and menstrual cycles can cause temporary fluctuations that have nothing to do with fat gain or loss. Relying on the scale alone may lead to unnecessary anxiety and misinterpretation of your progress.
Emotional Well-Being: A Crucial Component
The scale doesn't measure your mental and emotional transformation. Regular exercise has been linked to improved mood, reduced stress, and enhanced cognitive function. Pay attention to how you feel after a workout, your energy levels throughout the day, and your overall sense of well-being. These aspects are just as crucial, if not more so, than the number on the scale.
While scales can be a useful tool for tracking certain aspects of your fitness journey, they shouldn't be the sole determinant of progress. However if you do want to incorporate the scales into your routine, try to weigh yourself at the same time of day; ideally first thing in the morning to get the most accurate reading.