We’ve always believed that stepping on the scale is the only way to track our weight loss progress. After all, we’ve spent hours working out at the gym, eating clean and ditching all of our favourite guilty pleasures. When we see the numbers drop on the scale each time, we feel a small sense of victory.
However, weighing yourself shouldn’t be the sole method to measure your weight loss.
The weighing scale isn’t only inaccurate in determining your fitness progress, being overly-reliant on it also affects your mental and physical well-being. Here are six reasons why weighing yourself everyday isn’t as effective as you think it is.
1. Weight loss does not mean fitter and healthier
Weight loss is often used interchangeably with fat loss, the latter being what most people presumably want to achieve. Weight is made up of three major components, body fat, water and lean tissue.
This explains why even if two people have the exact same height and weight, their bodies may look completely different. Fat loss requires more time and effort compared to losing water and muscles.
So if you are actually losing water and muscles essential to your physical well being rather than fat, it may not necessarily mean a healthier you.
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2. Your muscles are repairing themselves
If you just started on a new exercise routine or are new to working out, you might notice a slight weight gain due to stress placed on your muscle fibres. This causes little tears in your muscle fibres known as microtrauma.
In an attempt to heal these tears, your body goes into an inflammation phase releasing various liquid substances to heal the tears. These liquids are what contribute to a temporary weight gain. The weight will subside once your body adapts to the intensity of the work out.
Furthermore, depending on your body type, you may gain muscles faster than you lose fat leading to an increase in weight. All these changes that come with exercising regularly cannot be accurately reflected by your weight.
3. Weight fluctuates throughout the day
The numbers you see on your scale may not remain constant even if you weigh yourself between short intervals. This is because things such as hydration levels and salts consumed will affect your weight. Carbohydrates and salt are commonly linked to water retention.
When too much salt is consumed, water is retained to balance the salt concentration in your body until your kidneys remove the unneeded salt. Similarly, unused carbohydrates are stored as glycogen, which encourages water retention.
Depending on your day-to-day activities and food consumption, your daily weight is likely to vary throughout the day.
4. There are other ways to measure fitness
Instead of using weight as an indicator of your progress, you can more accurately assess your fitness by observing your own body. Things such as the quality of your sleep and how alert your mind is can better inform you about the state of your health.
Another more accurate way to check your progress would be tracking your body fat percentage instead of weight.
5. Weight loss does not happen overnight
Do not let the numbers on the scale become a hindrance to your progress. Daily weigh ins are not going to reflect immediate results. Instead, weighing yourself weekly may allow you to have a better gauge of your progress.
Remember to weigh yourself at a fixed time for a more accurate reading. Weighing yourself at different times of the day would give varying results. For instance, your weight on an empty stomach compared to after a meal would likely be different.
The best time to weigh yourself would be in the morning before any activity or food consumption. Do this weekly or biweekly and observe consistent changes to your weight instead of hoping to shed a few kilograms overnight.
6. Don’t let the scale weigh you down
Frequent weigh ins will only serve to break your momentum when you do not get your desired readings. Instead of focusing on these numbers, focus on sticking to your set goals.
Set reminders on your phone or paste sticky notes around to motivate yourself to adhere to your exercise routine. If you find it hard to keep yourself in check, find a workout partner and be each others’ pillars of motivation.
Striving to achieve your goals will naturally yield favourable results in time to come.
This article was originally published in Shape.