We know what it’s like – you’ve spent a month in the gym, you’re feeling good and you’re seeing genuine results. The next thing you know, you weigh yourself and walk away horrified. Either you’re heavier than you were before, or you haven’t shifted any weight at all! Right? Wrong.
If you’re looking to cut fat and promote muscle, the scale is no determinant of success. Our unhealthy obsession with our weight only ends up hindering our progress.
Here are three reasons you should forget about weighing yourself.
Our weight fluctuates throughout the day
Depending on how much water we take on, our weight can fluctuate by as much as 3 or 4 kilogrammes a day. If you’re solely focused on making a good impression on the scales, that could put you off your stride.
Muscle weighs more than fat
It’s a well-known truism: muscle weighs more than fat. But it’s amazing how few people are willing to acknowledge they’re building muscle, and that’s the reason the scales aren’t shifting dramatically. Whether you’re indulging cardio or going straight to the weights room, you’re building muscles in your legs, arms and back without even realizing it, and these activities are adding weight to the number you see on the scale.
The scales don’t measure body fat
A more accurate measure of progress is body fat percentage, which is total fat divided by total body mass. Men require 2-5% fat minimum, while women require 10-13% minimum. Any lower than that, and we’re getting unhealthily lean. Most men who aren’t regular exercisers are closer to the 20% range, while the average women is closer to 30%. Most gyms will have trainers on hand who can use a simple instrument to measure your body fat.
Instead of using the scales to measure progress, start off by keeping a fitness photo diary. Take a picture of yourself in the mirror at the same time every day (an hour after your workout is often best, or first thing in the morning).
Secondly, measure the circumference of your waist. If you’re burning proper fat, you’ll start to notice that your waistline is shrinking, and the jeans that fitted you snugly before are now loose.
In the end, the scales don’t measure water retention, fluctuations in your weight or the healthy gains you’re making in the gym. So unless you’re cutting weight for competition, leave the scales in peace.