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How Often Should You Get On The Scale?

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making on a weight loss program is getting on the scale every day. The scale can be a tricky thing because as you’ll learn it doesn’t tell you all the facts.

The last thing you want in your weight loss program is to be going on an emotional rollercoaster ride every day based solely on what the scale tells you.

Watching the scale too much can create negative emotions that can undermine your progress. I personally recommend to my clients that they only weigh themselves once a week. Let me explain why.

Remember your goal is to lose body fat not just weight. Your body consists of fat, water, lean muscle, bone, and connective tissue. The scale can only measure the total combination of all these.

It doesn’t have the ability to measure what percentage of your weight loss came from fat. So how should you measure your progress? The best way is to have your body fat measured along with judging by how your clothes fit.

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There are several techniques that can be used to determine body fat percentages. One of the best ways is to test your body fat with a skin fold caliper or bioelectrical impedance device.

A properly designed weight management program will have both weight gain and loss during its natural progression. There will be water weight fluctuations along with gains in lean muscle that will add weight.

Remember muscle weighs more than fat. All you need to worry about is the fat. Remove the fat and increase the lean muscle and you will be leaner. Take a look at the following examples to see how the scale can be very misleading.

In example one, Judy lost a total of two pounds when she got on the scale. What she didn’t know was she also lost five pounds of water, one pound of lean muscle, and gained four pounds of fat in the process

Example #1

Judy: Lost 5 lbs water
Gained 4 lbs fat
Lost 1 lb muscle
Total weight loss 2 lbs

Example #2

Rebecca: Lost 4 lbs fat
Gained 4 lbs water
Gained 1 lb muscle
Total weight gain 1 lb

Rebecca on the other hand was discouraged when she got on the scale because she gained a pound. What she didn’t know was she also lost four pounds of fat. What the scale couldn’t tell her was that she had gained four pounds of water and one pound of muscle.

Which woman has made better progress? Rebecca of course, even though she gained a pound. Although disappointed at the sight of a one pound gain in weight, she will undoubtedly be happy when the water weight gain goes back down and she’s discovered a significant drop on the scale. It was just too soon!

The problem is there are several factors that affect water weight fluctuation especially in women. There may be up to 5-7 lb gains in weight simply due to water retention during hormonal changes that accompany menstruation cycles. It is important to remember that physiologically most people can only lose approximately 1-3 lbs of fat per week.

Any diet that takes weight off faster than that is doing so at the expense of water and lean tissue. This is not good for two reasons. First, we know how important water is to bodily functions. If hydration is not adequate we can not efficiently burn body fat.

Second, lean tissue is what burns calories, this is the last thing we want to sacrifice. An increase of lean tissue will actually produce a higher metabolism. As we already know a higher metabolism is the key to fat loss.

It can be very tempting to weigh yourself more often but you’re only jeopardizing a positive mental outlook. If you only focus on a number, in this case bodyweight to measure your success, you’re setting yourself up for disappointments from time to time.

You can keep yourself motivated by focusing on how you feel and how your clothes fit. This is a much better strategy than getting on the scale every day. Do yourself a favor and avoid the negative emotions that can set in from the scale not telling you the whole story. As you’ve learned, it can only tell you one number and that number can be misleading.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts, a Mt. Pleasant based personal fitness training studio that specializes in Charleston weight loss programs for body transformation. Receive a FREE, no-obligations trial and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.

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Category: Fat Loss.