Problems With Scales And Why To Take Your Weekly Measurements
Have you ever spent several weeks on this protocol, only to watch the scale stay at the exact same number day after day? We all have and there's a very good reason for that: The scale doesn't tell the whole story. It's hard to get excited about weight loss changes that we can't see on the scale. So, if the changes are happening and the scale isn't moving how do you know if you're making progress?
Maybe it's time to start taking your weekly measurements.
The problems with scales
Scales don't always give you the whole story about your body or your weight loss progress. For that reason, scales (when used alone) aren't the best way to track what's really going on inside your body. Another reason to dislike scales is the emotional nature of weighing ourselves. Stepping on a scale doesn't just give us a number, it can determine how we feel about ourselves and affect body image.
The problem with bodyweight scales is that they measure everything — fat, muscle, bones, organs and even that sip of water or bite of food you've had. The scale can't tell you what you've lost or gained, which is important information if you're trying to lose weight—and by weight, what we really mean is fat.
Why your weight fluctuates
The numbers you see on the scale vary with these factors:
Water weight gain. Because the body is about 60 percent water, fluctuations in your hydration levels can change the number on a scale. If you're dehydrated or have eaten too much salt, your body may actually retain water, which can cause scale weight to creep up. Similarly, many women retain water during menstrual cycles, which is another thing that can make that number change.
Food weight gain. Weighing yourself after a meal isn't the best idea simply because food adds weight. When you eat it, your body will add that weight as well. It doesn't mean you've gained weight, it simply means that you've added something to your body (something that will be eliminated through digestion over the next several hours).
Muscle gain. Muscle is more dense than fat and it takes up less space, so adding muscle could increase your scale weight, even though you're slimming down.
That doesn't mean the scale is useless. In fact, it's a wonderful tool when you combine it with taking your weekly measurements. Knowing both of these numbers will tell you whether you're losing the right kind of weight: fat. Keeping track of these numbers on a weekly or monthly basis will help you see what you're losing and/or what you're gaining.
Try these tricks to make weighing yourself a useful and more positive experience:
Weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything.
Weigh yourself once a week instead of daily to give your body time to respond to your new weight loss program. The scale won't always reflect small changes happening in your body composition.
Remember, the scale weighs everything. Just because your scale weight hasn't changed doesn't mean you aren't making progress.
Use scale weight along with cm loss for a more accurate view of your progress
Take your body measurements This is a great option for tracking progress because it doesn't require any fancy equipment and anyone can do it. Taking your measurements in certain areas can give you an idea of where you're losing fat, which is important since we all lose fat in different areas and in a different order.
Taking your measurements can help reassure you that things are happening—even if you're not losing fat exactly where you want just yet.
Start by wearing tight-fitting clothing (or no clothing) and make a note of what you're wearing so you know to wear the same clothes the next time you measure. Here's how to do it:
For all measurements, pull the tape measure so that it sits on the surface of the skin, but doesn't compress the skin.
Bust: Measure around the chest right at the nipple line, but don't pull the tape too tight.
Chest: Measure just under your bust.
Waist: Measure 1 cm above your belly button or at the smallest part of your waist.
Hips: Place the tape measure around the biggest part of your hips.
Thighs: Measure around the biggest part of each thigh. You can also use the length of your arm (if someone is helping you) to measure just below the fingertips.
Calves: Measure around the largest part of each calf.
Upper arm: Measure around the largest part of each arm above the elbow.
Forearm: Measure around the largest part of the arm below the elbow.
The question is, can you preserve certain areas while losing in others? Unfortunately, we can't choose where the fat comes off. Your body loses fat as a whole and the areas that hold excess fat take longer. The bottom line is, you can't control where the fat comes off, but you can look at your own body type and that of your parents and get a decent idea where you tend to store more fat and where you don't. To some extent, we're all held hostage by our genes, but that doesn't mean you can't make changes to your body. To do that, make sure you have a complete exercise program.
Are Your Measurements Normal?
Many of us may wonder whether our measurements are normal for our weight and height. The short answer to this is yes, whatever your measurements are, they are normal for you. Look around and you'll find that everyone has a different body shape and size. It helps to know the general body types, which determine where we store extra fat.
For women, we tend to use body shapes:
Apple - An apple-shaped person has broader shoulders and narrower hips.
Straight or rectangular - This shape usually has a waist measurement that is less than 9 inches than the hips or chest.
Pear - This person has hips that are larger than the chest.
Hourglass - In this shape, the hips and chest are almost the same with a narrower waist.
That's why taking your measurements can tell you more than the scale and also why it's body composition, not your weight, that really tells the true story.