Healthy Lifestyle

Ditch the Scale

Your weight on the scale is not always the best indicator of your health. You might be getting stronger, more fit and muscular, but the scale refuses to budge.

It is easy to get frustrated when you are working hard doing all the “right things” such as eating healthy, working out, drinking water and getting adequate sleep. In our culture, we want quick results and that is not possible with healthy weight loss. Because weight loss is often very slow, many get frustrated with perceived lack of results and then give up.

So what’s the best way to measure your weight loss progress?

  1. Your clothes fit better. Due to changes in body composition, your clothing may fit differently. They may fit looser due to changes in muscle you have built, even though the scale has not budged. Muscle is denser than body fat, burns more calories and looks much better. You will be smaller, but the weight may not change much or may even go up.
  2. Your other measurements improve. Tracking the circumference of body parts such as waist, hips, chest, arms and thighs are important. Waist circumference is the best way to measure abdominal obesity, which has been found to be an important factor in health and disease prediction. Inches don’t lie – if you have been working hard and losing fat, you will lose inches, as well as body fat.
  3. You have more energy and feel satisfied after meals. When you eat fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat or beans, your body is being nourished appropriately and you feel good. You are getting adequate vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. You will have great energy to fuel your body. If you make the choices of lots of caffeine, sugar or processed foods to get through the day, you may feel good at first, but then you have a buzz and a crash. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
  4. You sleep better. When you’re working out and fueling your body with better foods, you are more likely to get a good night’s sleep. Physical activity helps you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.
  5. Your progress photos improve. Beginning weight loss and progress photos are highly motivational tracking methods. You might not like your first picture, but no one has to look at it until you have made progress and can see the side by side results. This helps you see changes that you might not notice when you are looking at yourself daily. Seeing the changes in your physique can be inspiring when looking at the photos.
  6. You are happier. You feel more confident, more positive, mentally feel sharper and better about your choices. It’s empowering. This comes from changing your habits, and being proud about succeeding. Eating healthy food helps regulate your blood sugar and decreases inflammation. Any exercise, including walking, will boost your “feel good” endorphins, reduce stress, improve your mood and self-esteem.

Don’t let the scale discourage you. By tracking your body composition in more than one way and considering how you feel overall, you’ll have a more accurate view of what’s working and what’s not working with your nutrition plan and workouts. Remember, it’s not so much we want to lose pounds, it’s body fat that we want to lose.

Be patient, enjoy the process and be proud when you see changes. The best progress in weight loss occurs through daily lifestyle changes. Eating healthy and having an active lifestyle should become part of your everyday life. The body composition changes and weight loss will come if you stick with it. The longer you do it, the better the results. Once you reach your goal, you will have the built habits to stay healthy for life.

If you need help with changing your lifestyle to lose weight, speak with your Methodist Physicians Clinic health care provider for more tips.