Understand How to Gauge Weight Loss Success the Right Way
In your journey to weight loss and weight management, the scale can be the strongest alley or your worst enemy. For those struggling with weight loss, the scale can deflate or motivate you depending on your outlook and personal relationship with the scale.
For weight loss to stick, you need to create a state of mind that isn’t about short-term goals or dieting deprivations. In a recent post, I discussed at length why creating a Healthy Obsession is vital to weight loss success.
The scale is just one of many tools that can be used for motivation. Fitting into your jeans or your favorite red dress is another. If focusing on two pounds gained after a week of healthful eating and working out is going to derail you from your overall goals of living a healthful life, then ditch the scale! If checking your weight daily is a motivating force that keeps you on track, jump on it regularly but understand what can influence your weight fluctuations.
In my years as executive director of Wellspring Camps, a weight loss camp for teens and young adults, I have learned that the scale is not a dependable gauge for success or progress. I counsel all of our campers to understand his or her relationship with the scale or any measurement tool and decide to choose what works best for him or her. Sustainable weight loss is never about seeing the pounds drop every day. The scale will go up and down – you can count on it. The goal is not letting yourself get on that demotivating slippery slope that compels you to fall back into old and unhealthy eating habits.
Don’t Trust the Scale
There are many biological factors that can account for what seems like weight gain or no weight loss when using just the scale as your measurement. The scale can only tell you how much you weigh. Period. It doesn’t report on water retention, bone density, muscle mass or how good you feel in your favorite jeans.
While consistent weigh-ins can provide the necessary motivation for some, it should never be the only tool you use. Weight loss is not linear and the number on the scale should ONLY be used to develop an average. If the scale is steady or averaging up, consider the factors below before allowing those negative thoughts to creep in.
4 Factors that Influence the Scale:
- Time of day: You should always try to weigh yourself first thing in the morning. By evening your weight can increase by a pound or more.
- Water Retention: As mentioned above, menstrual cycles to alcohol consumption can cause you to retain more water and your weight can fluctuate 2-4 pounds.
- Stress Levels: If you are under a lot of stress, or even if you’re stressing too much about your weight, your body can be releasing cortisol that will keep your weight stationary as a defense mechanism. Try and ditch the stress, which might mean ditching the scale.
- Rate of weight loss: You cannot control the RATE at which your body will let go of the weight. As a society, we assume that the body works in 7 day increments (i.e. – if I work really hard and step on the scale in one week, it should go down). In fact, our biology’s do not work that way. You don’t have control over the rate at which your body will shed those pounds, so focus less on the scale and more on your behaviors.
If the needle isn’t moving or edges up on certain days or times, consider using other measurements for success. How do your jeans fit? How is your energy level? Are you moving faster? These are all non-scale victories and should be celebrated!
When the Scale Won’t Budge
You’ve stuck to your Healthy Obsession goals and the inches and pounds have been dropping. You feel great but you have been stuck just above your goal weight for months.
You may need to ask yourself: Is my goal weight realistic?
If you are happy, healthy and fitting into the clothes you want to, do those last 10 pounds really matter? Explore why you want to change your current healthy weight. Sometimes our bodies get comfortable at a certain weight and if you are exercising normally and eating healthy your body may not want to budge from your current plateau.
To really lose those last 10-15 pounds you may have to become much more rigid with your routine for it to stick. Getting really strict is something that will be hard to sustain for very long and may involve things like closely monitoring and measuring the quality and quantity of macronutrients you take in and stepping up your exercise much more than what you’re already doing.
If you are truly living with a Healthy Obsession everything else that is supposed to happen will follow.
Examining the way you or your family members think and feel about the scale, food, and changing the ingrained habits that drive decisions, is the soul of Wellspring Camps and Brain-Powered Weight Loss.