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6 ways to ditch the scales

How to measure weight loss without using scales

Do you feel disheartened by the number you see on the scales? Is it as if all your hard work eating well and working out is not reflected in that number?

The use of scales to measure and track weight loss can be useful in the long term or if you have a lot of weight to lose, but using scales every week (or everyday for some people!) often won’t tell you much about your progress in losing fat and getting fitter.

When you weigh yourself regularly, or you only have a few kilos to lose, the scales might not go down as expected due to a number of reasons, such as you are increasing muscle mass (which weighs more than fat), you are holding onto water or your body is changing in other ways which won't show on the scales. Using scales to measure weight loss can be deceiving and can potentially derail your efforts, leading to binge eating and yo-yo dieting.

I never weigh myself any more and I recommend my clients to avoid it or only weigh themselves once a month. It can link too closely with your self esteem and body image, so instead here’s 6 ways to measure your weight loss progress that don’t involve scales.

  • Measure how you feel

One of the easiest ways to track your progress is to check in with how you feel. Instead of using scales, I ask my clients to rate how they feel about their body from 1 to 10, with 1 being low and 10 being high. I also ask how they feel about their eating and exercise, both on a scale of 1-10.

Maybe you start with low numbers like a 2 or 3 out of 10 but you should see your ratings going up, as you feel better about your body, food and fitness. You can aim for 8-10 out of 10 in three months time. This is a great way to reflect on your progress using a tool that’s less body image focused and more internally motivated.

Write these starting ratings somewhere can put them where you can access them easily like stuck to the wall or in a journal, and rate them again each week or month.

  • Track how your clothes fit

Use your favourite jeans or dress as an indication of how you are doing. You know the feeling when you’ve worked hard and have stuck to a healthy regime, and your favourite clothes fit better. Keep track of this feeling in a journal or a by taking a photo and putting it somewhere you can see it. Check back on a monthly basis to see how the clothes fit.

  • Take photos

Take a variety of photos in different clothes and angles. Not just a mirror selfie in swimwear, but also in normal clothes and taken by someone else. Up close photos of your face, which is one of the best ways to indicate weight loss, can really surprise you. Compare monthly photos alongside each other.

  • Set yourself other goals

Do you want to take part in a run? Do you want to go to the gym 3 times a week? Or commit to getting your lunch ready the night before during the week? Set yourself some long and short term goals with deadlines, and keep them somewhere visible that you can tick off as you achieve them. This will help you feel focused, accountable and excited about your healthy lifestyle.

  • Check health markers

Get your blood test and full medical check up with your doctor. Ask for a proper explanation of the results and any concerns you have. Get a copy of your results and compare them to your previous tests so you can see your own trends, not just how you compare to the general population. What you want to look at is your thyroid function, bone density, blood pressure, heart rate, BMI, liver and kidney function, iron levels etc.

If you are managing a health condition, seek the support of a range of practitioners that can work alongside your doctor to help reduce symptoms and improve your condition where possible. Such as a naturopath, health coach, physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor, acupuncturist etc.

  • Body composition - fat and muscle mass

Although technically a scale, a body composition reading can show the actual mass and percentage of your body fat or muscle mass, instead of showing just your overall weight. These scales can indicate;

- Body fat mass and percentage

- Muscle mass and percentage

- Basal metabolic rate

- Visceral fat level (fat around your organs)

- Individual body part measurements (e.g. right arm 2.5kg)

I would recommend getting a body composition scan done professionally at a gym, sports store or other licensed user rather than the ones you can buy for your home. The results will be a lot more reliable and you avoid the temptation to get on them regularly! Make sure to test around the same day of your cycle each month.

You can base goals around decreasing your body fat percentage by 0.5-1% every 8 weeks, or to increase your basal metabolic rate through increasing your muscle mass. The results often give a metabolic age and health score, which you can also base your goals around. It’s an achievable way you can be 10 years younger!

Ditch the scales and obsession with the number

By using these ways to measure and track your weight loss, you will be less reliant on scales. This can help you have a more positive mindset about your health and fitness journey, instead of one filled with negative body image and disappointment. Instead, you can form a much healthier relationship with yourself, food and exercise and feel amazing!

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