Why It’s Time to Toss the Scale

When is the last time you weighed yourself?

How often do you weigh yourself?

How does that number make you feel?

If you are just starting your fitness journey or even if you are in the middle stages of it, here are a few reasons why you should stop weighing yourself often or even at all.

When I began my fitness journey, like many, I would weigh myself daily and eventually became obsessed with the number looking back at me. If I didn’t lose any weight or even if I gained weight, I would immediately be so disappointed in myself and either quit on my goals, eat my feelings, or even stop eating altogether! I tried taking diet pills, working out 7 days a week, and doing everything I could healthy or unhealthy to reach a certain weight. But, once I finally hit my goal weight, I had nothing else to look forward to. I knew I still had to keep working hard or else the weight would come back on, but the motivation of working toward a specific goal was gone. So, I started to think of other goals to reach and that’s when I found that the less I focused on my weight, the more I was able to actually see my progress.

Performance Goals Over Goal Weight

Since reaching my goal weight left me feeling like “now what?” I started to focus on other performance goals such as:

  • the number of pushups I could do up on my toes,
  • how long I could hold a plank,
  • the weight of the dumbbells I was using, and
  • how far and fast I could run.

I found that these are the numbers that have mattered to me on my journey far more than my weight. I don’t remember the moment I reached my goal weight, but I definitely remember the feeling I had the first time I ran a full mile without stopping and the moment I was able to hold a 4 minute plank. These numbers are what stuck for me and were true markers of how much better my fitness had become. These moments are called non-scale victories, or NSVs, and these are what I encourage you to focus on. Set some performance based goals for yourself along with a reasonable timeline and I promise you will find that reaching those goals is so much more satisfying than hitting a goal weight.

Are you a mom? Focus on how much more energy you have to play with your kids or even how much easier it becomes for you to lift them! (fur mamas count too! 😊) How about your mental health? As I started to focus on getting stronger and discovering more non-scale victories, I became much more confident in myself and less focused on my body image. I have always struggled with anxiety and working out has been a huge release for me. The scale can’t measure your mental progress but it can definitely ruin it if you let it!

Better Options for Tracking Progress

Here are some other options to track your progress besides weighing yourself.  

Progress Photos

Every 4-6 weeks (or once a month), take photos of yourself from the front, side, and back. These photos are for YOU and never have to see the light of day if you don’t want them to. But photos are a great way for you to SEE the progress you are making instead of relying on the number on the scale. Some tips for taking photos:

  • Have someone take your photos for you (like a friend or your significant other) or set up your phone/camera on a stand with a self-timer.
  • Wear the same outfit each time, or something similar (tight fitting clothes, swimsuit, shorts and a sports bra, etc)
  • Be sure the background is not cluttered (stand against a door or empty wall)
  • Try to have the same lighting, poses, and angles
  • Don’t forget to smile!!

Body Measurements

Grab a measuring tape and measure your chest, hips, arms and legs. If you don’t have a measuring tape, another great trick is getting a piece of yarn or ribbon to measure these same areas. Each month measure and cut a new piece of yarn or ribbon and place them next to the previous month. Even if you don’t have the exact numbers, you will be able to visualize the inches lost.

Example of using yarn for body measurement. Make sure you label with a sticky note or piece of tape so you know which one is waist, hips, etc.

By taking photos instead, you will see that you could weigh the same but look completely different in your photos due to inches lost and muscles gained. The picture below is when I started my journey 5 years ago and me today. I weigh 140 pounds in both pictures! But, you can clearly see how my body composition has changed. Don’t let the scale rob you of seeing your progress!

Fitness Test

Lastly, take a fitness test to measure your endurance/strength progress. Think of 4 exercises you have difficulty with or would like to improve on. Set a timer for one minute and count how many reps you can perform of each exercise in one minute and record it so you can come back to it the next month. It also helps to take notes on the exercises. For example, if you test your pushups, note if you had to drop to your knees or if you were able to do them all on your toes. Record weights of dumbbells/barbells if you are measuring strength exercises.

Here is a handy tracker that I use with my clients for tracking measurements and fitness test results. Feel free to use our fitness test or come up with your own using the example I gave above.

Repeat Every 4-6 Weeks

Retake your photos, measurements, and repeat the fitness test every 4-6 weeks and see how much has changed. I promise once you stop worrying about the number on the scale, you’ll get better results while becoming stronger both physically and mentally. Now, let’s go chase some goals!