When was the last time you went to weight yourself and the number on the scales wasn’t quite exactly what you expected?
It’s happened to all of us: We eat right, exercise and then find ourselves totally disappointed that the number on the scales doesn’t reflect all the hard work we have put in. At some point most of us have looked to the scales to record our progress – I know I have. I used to be so obsessed with the scales that something as small as a number could either make my day or break my day – in some ways, my life seemed to totally revolve around what my bathroom scales said.
I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t use the scales anymore, because I do. The scales do have a part to play and it is a good tool to make sure you are staying on track. Here’s my issue with them: They can be so demotivating!
So many of us start our weight loss or fitness journey by taking a reading on the scales and we use that as our reference point for our progress. What we forget about is that our bodies are constantly changing – hormones, muscle mass and water retention play such a big part in our overall ‘weight’ and so we beat ourselves up if we gain a few pounds. It could be something small as drinking an extra cup of tea, or being on your period before your weekly weigh in that shows you have gained a pound – not necessarily the fact that you haven’t worked hard or eaten perfectly. What happens is that by focusing purely on the numbers you’re not only going to find yourself deflated and disappointed every now and again, but you’re also going to ‘give up’ and feel demotivated to continue on your journey.
It’s about discipline and consistency. Persistence pays off. So, in order to succeed you have to work out all the kinks and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t – ask yourself:
This is where the scales come into it – Do they motivate you, or demotivate you?
Well don’t panic if they do fill you with dread – there are so many other reference points and tools to use to track your progress and keep you motivated and disciplined on your fitness and health journey.
You need to make sure that your ‘why’ overrides any self-doubt you feel. Having a strong enough ‘why’ will keep you disciplined in your journey. So many of us have very superficial ‘why’s’ that are based around looks or timelines, but dig deeper. Ask yourself the big questions that make your ‘why’ as strong as it possibly can be. That way the numbers on the scale will always come secondary as you are reminded of the real reason you’re on this journey – it’s not always down to what the scales say.
Body fat is what we really need to focus on lowering – it’s not necessarily about losing ‘weight’, it should be about getting our body fat to a ‘healthy’ percentage that leads our body to optimum health. When we lose weight it doesn’t always mean that we lose body fat – have you heard of the term ‘skinny fat’? It basically means that you can be quite slim, yet still have an unhealthy percentage of body fat in your body.
By working out you build up lean muscle and that can help in reducing your body fat. As muscle is denser that fat, it means that you might see the number on the scales increase. This isn’t to say you’re gaining fat – for the same area of ‘fat’, muscle would weigh more. So, your body might be the same size (if you take measurements) but you would be leaner. Monitoring body fat is a much more accurate way of recording changes in your body composition – it’s also a better indicator of your health.
These are my favourite! I love taking progress pictures – they are the best representation (in my eyes) to show changes in your body. Like I said, the scales don’t always mean your losing ‘fat’ or becoming leaner, the scales just simply indicate how much you weigh. Because of that they can be demotivating. When that comes around, progress pictures are a great way to get your motivation back up and running.
Progress pictures are fantastic as you can actually SEE your transformation and how far you have come. Sometimes we can get so caught up in a number or a measurement and feel disappointed when we don’t hit targets – that’s when these pictures come in handy, just to remind ourselves that it’s a journey we have worked hard to be on.
As muscle is denser than fat it means that it weighs more for the same surface area. With working out and being on a fitness journey, this may mean that you gain numbers on the scale. When you want to lose weight, this might be the last thing you want to happen – but again, it’s not that you have gained fat! You have just worked your butt off to build lean muscle – that’s all. In this case, body measurements might be a better reference point for you as you can see the inches drop off – it’s a better indicator of changes in your body composition.
Using clothes as reference points is such a great tool to use as a reminder for how far you have come. I know so many people avoid weighing themselves completely and just use their wardrobe as a reference guide for them. I use them in two ways:
Forget losing weight.
Forget the fact you can now fit into your favourite bikini.
Forget that wedding body you are working on.
What else have you gained? Why else has this experience been a positive journey to be on?
Think about all the amazing things that you have now gained in your life from being on this weight loss, fitness or health journey:
Focus on every achievement that has come out of this journey – add these outcomes onto your ‘why’ and give it more validation and meaning.
The scales aren’t the be all and end all – that number isn’t always an honest reflection of the hard work you have put in or even your body composition and health. No wonder it’s not always the most encouraging reference point to use! So, next time you’re feeling a little bit demotivated from what the scales say, use these other tools to get your fitness mojo back and keep you motivated and excited about your journey to fitness and health.