Admit it… it’s depressing.
You work out on a frequent basis. You do resistance exercise and high intensity cardio like you know you should. You try and eat nutritious, healthy foods (and not too much of them) 90% of the time. But the scale refuses to budge.
And you can’t help wondering…
Do you just need to be patient, waiting for the numbers to finally get smaller?
Or could it be possible that the numbers on scale doesn’t really matter… and you’re actually making progress, despite your stagnant weight?
Why weighing yourself doesn’t work
People have been using scales to determine their physical health for ages. Long ago, someone determined that what you weigh is somehow the pinnacle of how fit and healthy you are. And society wholeheartedly accepted this.
Heck, I remember hearing about cheerleading squads in high school who wouldn’t accept anyone into their team who was over 120 pounds, despite their level of skill or overall appearance.
Not even two pounds over. Does that seem right to you?
Well, the ugly truth about the scale is that it doesn’t actually tell you how in shape you are.
Why? Because the scale only looks at your overall weight… it doesn’t consider other (more important) factors such as how much muscle you have, how dense your bones are, etc.
And everyone knows that muscle weighs more than fat, right?
So that means that the more muscular you are… the more you weigh (yes, guys have known this for ages, but somehow this is a revelation to most women).
The skinny fat phenomenon
This focus on overall weight rather than muscle mass vs. fat mass has resulted in an interesting phenomenon: the skinny fat population.
The urban dictionary says that skinny fat is:
When someone is thin and looks great in clothes, but is all flabby underneath.
Ugh, who wants to be flabby?
Skinny fat isn’t something to aim for. But if you’re watching the scale too closely, it’s where you’ll end up.
So… how are you supposed to track your progress then, if you’re not relying on the scale?
There are dozens of ways of course, but here are a few of my favorites:
1. Body fat percentage
This is, by far, the best and most accurate way to track your physical progress. You can get tested (usually for free) at most gyms, or you can pick up a body fat caliper like this one on Amazon, and do it yourself at home.
It’s a little less accurate to test yourself—mostly because it’s just plain awkward to get to all the places you need to test on your own body—but it’s doable.
If you’re wondering, guys should aim anywhere from 8 to about 15% for a healthy body fat percentage, while women should be anywhere from around 15% to 28%. Obviously, the less fat you have, the more toned and muscular your body will look.
2. How your pants fit
One of the best methods of determining how fit you are is to pay attention to how your clothes fit. If your jeans start to feel extra tight in the waist, it’s time to start cutting back on the sweets and stepping up the high intensity interval training (HIIT).
If your pants are feeling loser, that’s a good thing.
Even Jillian Michaels says she barely ever steps on a scale, measuring where she’s at physically instead by trying on her favorite pair of jeans.
If they’re too big, you’re on the right track (unless you’re trying to gain weight, of course, but even then, your waistline should never increase). Too small, and it’s time to start cutting back.
3. That jiggly feeling
You know that jiggly feeling that happens when you walk, jump or run?
Well, that’s the feeling you want to get rid of.
Less jiggle = less fat.
Of course, this isn’t exactly the most accurate way to test your level of physical health, but if you start paying attention to your body, you’ll begin to feel when you’re a little overweight, and be able to cut back accordingly.
Pay attention to the jiggle, and if it starts feeling bouncier than you’re used to, it’s time to step up your exercise routine even more.
The bottom line
Achieving the body of your dreams isn’t as easy as eating nothing but carrot sticks all day and weighing yourself to see the pounds melt off. You have to work your butt off in order to see results.
Resistance workouts, protein-packed meals, lots of veggies and fruit, and high intensity cardio is what will get you there—not stepping on the scale on a daily basis.
If you’re willing to do that, you’ll feel better than you’ve ever felt and fit into the jean size you’ve been dreaming of. It’s tough, but it’s worth it.
So, what are you waiting for?
Hurry up and get started.
And toss that scale in the trash while you’re at it.
Image credit: Hunor83