With approximately 70% of our society overweight or obese, many people use January 1st as an incentive to lose weight and get healthy. Although carrying excessive body fat is a major contributing factor to many health issues including Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes, weight loss as your primary goal may set you up for failure.
Stepping on the Scale Can Be a Negative Experience
Weight Going Up or Staying the Same
Let’s say you’ve been working out regularly and sticking to a healthy nutrition plan. You step onto the scale to monitor your progress expecting a positive result, and the scale hasn’t changed or perhaps the dial has even moved up, which can often happen!
You can imagine how demotivating that can be! Your weight can easily go up or down 5 pounds in a day for no apparent reason. In fact, weight fluctuations are one of the major reasons people get discouraged when trying to lose weight. It can stop the buy-in when there is a fluctuation in the wrong direction. This causes people to feel like a failure, quit their workouts and return to unhealthy eating patterns.
Body Composition Progress
The scale only measures weight and does not indicate changes to body composition or the progress happening inside your body. You are building more muscle and bone density. Your heart and lungs are getting stronger and learning how to pump blood more efficiently and extract oxygen more effectively. You are increasing the size and number of your mitochondria, where energy is produced. Although all of these adaptations will make it much easier to achieve your ideal body weight, none of these changes will display a positive result on a scale.
Although studies analyzing successful and sustained weight loss indicate that the scale can be a useful tool for monitoring weight loss for many people, for others, it can be a deterrent to success.
If you are one of the people who find that setting weight loss goals can be discouraging, here are some better goals to set:
I will complete 12 strength training workouts in January.
I will try and walk one mile 30 seconds faster by the end of January.
I will be able to complete 12 full pushups by February 1st.
I will walk 8000 steps per day.
I will drink half my body weight in ounces of water each day.
I will consume vegetables at each meal.
I will consume a protein source at each meal.
I will go to bed by 10pm to ensure I sleep 7-8 hours each night.
These types of goals are action-oriented and within your control. You can easily monitor and measure your success. This approach can be more positive than suffering the ups and downs of weighing yourself daily.
Include Multiple Progress Measurement Tools
The scale (if you choose) AND
Body composition analysis
Be sure to weigh yourself at the same time every day, ideally in the morning after you go to the bathroom and take the average of the week. Expect and understand that the significant weight fluctuations that you may experience are a result of fluid and do not accurately reflect progress.
Yours in health & fitness,