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#FridayFitClub: Throw Away Your Scale

Want to get in shape?  Lose weight?  Improve your overall fitness?  Then throw away your scale.

That’s right.  Go get that bitch and toss her out.

Sounds insane, but trust me, there are better ways of measuring your progress.

Years ago, I was trying to get in shape for a pageant, and my trainer was adamant about only two things: No fast food, and no scale.

She used to say that the scale is a liar.  The scale only measures your weight.  It doesn’t measure how much fat you’ve lost or muscle you’ve gained (which weighs more than fat).  It doesn’t take into account that you’re retaining water because your period is in three days.  And it doesn’t know how many inches you’ve lost, or miles you can run, or pounds you can bench.

The scale uses only one metric, the most useless one, to measure your progress.  And when the number goes up, it causes negative feelings, which can cause you to backslide or quit.  So what do you do instead?

Embrace Non-Scale Victories. Set goals that help you move forward.  How many laps do you want to swim?  How many pounds do you want to lift?  How many flights of stairs do you want to be able to climb without getting winded?

If you’re not to the place where working out feels like a success yet, try food-related goals.  This week, I didn’t eat fast food once, which for me is huge.  Last week, I gave up candy.  Next week, no refined carbohydrates.  Get a cheap calendar and some gold stars, and give yourself one every day you make it.

Buy a Measuring Tape. I own this one.  If you must have a numerical way to track your progress, inches are a far better metric than pounds.  You want to measure your bust, waist, hips, the circumference of thighs, and circumference of biceps.  This article shows you how.

As you tone up and get in shape, you should lose inches.  When I was working out with a trainer this summer, I gained three pounds but lost two inches around my waist and two inches off my hips.  So again, scale = a liar.

Use Your Clothes. This is how a friend lost 45lbs of baby weight and got back into shape.  She took a pair of jeans from her closet that fit-sort of.  They were a little tight around the waist, but they zipped.  She worked out until they were a little loose.  Then, she bought the same jeans in a smaller size and repeated the process.  Eight months later, she was wearing her pre-baby size.

Giving up the scale can free your mind.  You don’t worry about every single pound.  You don’t stress about small losses or over-value small wins.  You can focus on making progress that will last and better decisions.

Do you find the scale helpful?  Are there other ways you use to track your progress?

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    17 comments

  1. Julia Rine says:

    I really like to focus on non-scale victories. I think something useful to add to this is creating a routine/regimen that works for you and is sustainable in the long term- if you just workout until you’re a certain size and then go back to old habits, the weight will come back. Focus instead on being as healthy as possible and getting in tune with what your body actually wants, and the aesthetics and feeling of fitness will come.

    October 27, 2017/Reply
  2. Monica T says:

    A tape measure is a great tool! I also use a Withings Cardio scale which does measure Weight, Body Fat %, Water, Pulse Wave Velocity (some kind of fancy metric for cardio health) and tells me how many steps I walked the day before. https://health.nokia.com/us/en/body-cardio

    I like it because while I can see the weight, I can also see all the other metrics that matter more to me. It also synchronizes to MFP, so I don’t have the power to omit the metrics when I’m messing up, and if I’m tracking what I eat and start gaining I can use it to see what’s going wrong. Did I slack off on exercise that week? Eat cupcakes every night for dinner? To me data is power, it doesn’t have to create negative emotions, although I’m well aware it does for the majority of us.

    If you don’t like the scale for every day, I recommend getting a DEXA scan at certain checkpoints throughout the year. They do a full body composition scan, you can ever see your bone density (my skeleton only weighs 5 lbs, and I always thought of myself as large boned!). it’s a great baseline and a great motivator.

    October 27, 2017/Reply
  3. Colleen says:

    Since signing up for Weight Watchers, I have to weigh myself once a week. My scale live in a corner in the basement so I’m not tempted to get on it more than once a week.

    I’m down 4 pounds now (3 weeks in) but my clothes feel so much looser. Getting my nutrition under control seems to have been the key since my work outs have remained the same.

    October 27, 2017/Reply
    • Colleen says:

      Ugh, *lives.

      October 27, 2017/Reply
  4. Mary says:

    I have a weekly regimen that is cheap ,efficient and you’ll retain quality of life (no broccoli chicken only type of living) but calls for some planning ahead. It has proven for me, it may not work for you but I thought I share. Plan and buy stuff for 5-6 dinners (dinners you like and enjoy but it cannot be takeout) make sure each dinner is enough to save a lunchbox for the following day. In the mornings eat breakfast, then eat the lunch (left overs.) make your planned dinner at dinner time and save some for lunch next day. Snacks are for children but if you do get hungry eat a banana or sliced apple and cheese stick or cube in between these meals. Do not eat anything after dinner. Do not snack on bars, Cookie, chips etc. absolutely no sodas or sugary drinks. Only water, tea and coffee. The 1-2 days you don’t have dinner planned, buy some take out (you gotta live a little) or go out but stay away from the nasty stuff like McDonalds. If you also work out, remember it’ll get you more hungry, you need to fight it as your work outs will not help if you also increase the calories. Eventually your body will be used to the lower amounts of crap and sugar and will crave less.

    October 27, 2017/Reply
    • Suzy says:

      Most nutritionists actually recommend eating “snacks”, or mini-meals” in between b, l, and d in order to stabilize blood-sugar, prevent cravings, and binges due to being famished at mealtime. Saying snacks are for “children” is not accurate and harmful.

      October 30, 2017/Reply
  5. Abbie says:

    I love getting rid of the scale. On top of that, I’ve also moved all full-length mirrors out of areas where I change, so that I’m only in front of them when I’m looking at my outfit. I find my perception of how I look naked is more dependent on my self-esteem that reality, which, like a scale, is not a reliable measure of fitness and health. It’s seriously changed my happiness level.

    October 27, 2017/Reply
  6. Sarah says:

    Love this. Being healthy and fit is more than just a number on a scale.

    October 27, 2017/Reply
  7. Jules says:

    Haven’t stepped on a scale for ten years, and I am SO MUCH HAPPIER. Even when I go to the doctor, etc, I tell the nurse not to tell me the weight.

    For me the best gauge is my leather belt (since most of my clothes are stretchy, lol). But also, I just try to go by how I feel. When I eat less crap, my size may not change at all, but my body feels so much better 🙂

    October 27, 2017/Reply
  8. Shelley says:

    The scale is the devil and I know people who weigh themselves every single morning. And would let the number define their day. I try to weigh myself once every 2-3 weeks just as a gauge. But I like the idea of using clothes and a measuring tape.
    One thing I do want to correct though is that muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound is a pound is a pound. They weigh the same. But muscle is tighter and more compact and takes up less space in our body than fat and gaining muscle helps to increase metabolism and burn fat faster. But fat and muscle weigh the same.

    October 28, 2017/Reply
  9. Amanda says:

    I love non-scale victories. I am actually really numbers oriented but I get obsessive quickly, so inches/weight/calories consumed takes me to a bad place. I like increasing mileage and watching my clothes fit better as my two metrics.

    October 28, 2017/Reply
  10. RR says:

    I really loved this post. I will add that *technically* muscle and fat weigh the same (see comment above “which weighs more than fat”). A pound of muscle or a pound of fat are still a pound. The difference is that fat can take up more space. Which is why your points on measuring tape and how things feel is so on point.

    October 28, 2017/Reply
  11. JW says:

    One kind of scale that actually is pretty useful for me is a food scale – I track my macros and it’s amazing how far off measuring cup measurements can be vs the metric system – sometimes they overestimate by like 30%, which could totally throw your progress off track if that’s what you’re focusing on.

    October 29, 2017/Reply
    • JW says:

      Also they’re cheap and it takes out a lot of guesswork 🙂

      October 29, 2017/Reply
    • Shelley Ahmed says:

      Yes yes yes to the food scale. I like it for measuring my portions and also cooking/baking portions when following a recipe.

      October 30, 2017/Reply
  12. Megan says:

    Yes! Totally support. But I will add one scale to own- a food scale! having a counter top scale to help you understand correct food portions is huge. Helped me lose weight because i learned how many chips were a serving, and how much rice or pasta to eat.

    I lost weight by eating well and then focusing on gym goals- can I do a plank, being able to do burpees for a whole minute, and how many miles can I jog before i want to give up. These goals helped me feel stronger every time I accomplished them, and the benefit was dropping two dress sizes

    October 30, 2017/Reply
  13. Abby says:

    I agree that scales can be discouraging and there are much better ways to track progress.

    For me personally, I like to weigh in once every 1-2 weeks. I am happy with my fitness level and dress size, so I use the scale more a a way to check if I’m straying from my normal size. That being said, I do keep a weight range in mind, and try to be forgiving about it. If I’m a little on the higher side, then I plan to eat more roasted veggies with my lunch, and by the next week, I’m usually back to my normal weight.

    I also tend to eat a lot more when I workout, and the scale is a reminder to cool it with the “I worked out so I deserve a treat” mentality.

    October 30, 2017/Reply