by Jason Pulido…
I’ve been a personal trainer for over 20 years. And all that time, I’ve also been on my own personal fitness journey, which has included massive swings in weight and fluctuations in fitness. Throughout my career as a trainer, the question in the title of this piece—to weigh or not to weigh?—has often been asked of me. For those of us who have struggled with weight swings, or had to work and work to lose body fat, it’s an age-old question that has no clear-cut answer.
There is the school of though that says using a scale is the opposite of what you should be doing when trying to lose weight. There are many valid reasons for not being obsessed with the scale, but I’d like to focus on three that have directly impacted my experience. First, and most important, weight loss/gain doesn’t necessarily equate to body fat loss/gain. Secondly, hydration and sodium intake can account for large weight swings in short periods of time that aren’t necessarily indicative of poor eating or lack of exercise. The last reason for not being a scale watcher–and this is a big one–is that mentally it can be very tough if you’re working hard to drop pounds and you’re not seeing the results you want on a consistent basis.
Here are some other ways you can keep track of your progress:
*BMI (Body Mass Index) testing
*Measurements (with a measuring tape or caliper)
I’ve written in this blog before about my struggle with weight loss/gain (www.nimblefitness.com/the-struggle-is-real) and one of the hardest things I’ve had to contend with is the balance between holding myself accountable (which I clearly know is necessary for me) and getting obsessive about the weight number…with the accompanying negative self-talk when the number doesn’t reflect what I want it to. To be brutally honest, my personal experience has been that I will consistently avoid the scale if I don’t want to know what it says. That is embarrassing to write, but is the truth. If I have been sneaking cookies, or ordering more than the occasional dessert, I usually stay away from the scale. And when I finally force myself back to my (somewhat) trusted scale, I have found myself regularly disappointed in what I see, and in turn, myself.
So what is the correct answer for you? The short answer is that it depends. Will using the scale help you? If it will help, what method would be healthiest (mentally and physically) for you?
In the past 18 months of my journey, since my 40th birthday, I have lost over 40 lbs. I committed to stepping on the scale daily. I find that I actually need the accountability. It helped me lose the weight with a (mostly) healthy mindset.
Here are some keys to “weighing in” that helped me:
- Weigh yourself at the same time every day. I prefer morning, on an empty stomach.
- Don’t allow natural daily shifts to affect you. This is harder to do than to say!
- Believe in yourself and your “long game”. Don’t get caught up with setbacks, but commit to continuing your program and do NOT obsess about a bad meal/day/weekend.
- Sometimes your clothes will fit and feel better than the scale says!
- Finally, I have a “do not cross” line…meaning that I simply did not allow my weight to go above a certain number. I got close a number of times and each time I went near that line, I held myself accountable and stopped eating the cookies…AND…made sure I got a great workout in.