feet on aweight scale


At IHC we typically recommend you weigh yourself regularly to track your weight loss.  For some people, weight isn’t just a number on a scale.  That ‘number’ can sometimes change how you feel about yourself.   Anyone that has gone on a weight loss journey has done this. You hop on the scale, first thing in the morning, excited to see how your efforts are paying off.  When the ‘number’ is lower than it was the day before, you feel better about yourself, but, if it’s higher, your day suddenly spirals downward & you’re questioning everything you’re doing, wondering why you even bother at all.

Before You Throw In The Towel, Keep Reading…

What does that ‘number’ on your scale really mean, and how useful is it when it comes to tracking your weight loss progress? Learning the answers to those questions may give you a completely different perspective on your scale.

When you first came to IHC (and at your monthly follow ups) we did a body composition to determine, among other things, your Body fat %.  We do this because it is important to know, not just your weight, but also how much of your total weight is body fat.

The difference between losing weight and losing body fat can change how you see yourself and your progress.

The standard body scale displays your weight, but it doesn’t tell you how much of that weight is muscle, fat, water, bones, or organs. Knowing your body composition is crucial.

Focus on Fat Loss, Not Weight

Focusing on fat loss is much more important than focusing on your weight. When you lose body fat, you’re making permanent changes in your body, shifting your body composition so that you have less fat and more muscle. When you lose weight, you could be losing water or even muscle. It’s impossible to know if you’re seeing real results or just the product of your daily habits, hormonal shifts, and changing hydration levels.

Here’s how the scale may mislead you.

It measures everything. The ‘number’ on the scale includes all of your body tissues, skin, hair, muscles, fat, bones, organs, food (just eaten & digested), and water. For that reason, your scale weight can be a deceptive number.

It doesn’t reflect the changes happening in your body.   It doesn’t reflect your health.   It isn’t always a positive motivator.

Measure Success in a New Way

When you first start a weight-loss program, you may need extra encouragement to keep going, and proof that what you’re doing is working. The scale may not give you that. Using other ways to measure progress can keep you motivated.

Notice how your clothes fit. If they fit more loosely, you know you’re on the right track. It helps to have one pair of pants that are a little too tight. Try them on once a month and make notes on how they fit. Clothes don’t lie.

Take your measurements to see if you’re losing inches. Measuring your body at different points helps you figure out if you are, in fact, losing fat.

Use a scale that measures body fat through bioelectrical impedance. These scales are readily available at a variety of different price points. They will give you a more accurate view of whether you are losing fat and gaining muscle or not.

Set performance goals. Instead of worrying about weight loss or fat loss, focus on completing a certain activity like taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Parking further from the front door of the grocery store, office or shopping center and walking.  Notice how your endurance levels are increasing. These are tangible, reachable goals that give you more of that instant gratification the scale doesn’t.

Take new pictures of yourself each month and look at the difference!  You will be surprised!

If the scale is making you crazy, taking a break from weighing yourself may just open your eyes to other possibilities. Your weight isn’t the only measure of your success. Put away the scale and you may just see how far you’ve really come.

For fun & thought – See what that ‘number’ would be on the moon!

Published by Dr. Kirk Childers, IHC of Charlottesville February 2020

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