Updated: Apr 3
I was chatting to a Four Peak member the other day who has been on a bit of a wellness mission of late - of which they are definitely succeeding in 🙂
They were telling me about how they had been using the scales to track their progress and that this was leaving them feeling disappointed in the number and down on themselves, even though overall they have been feeling so much better. They then said something I was certainly not expecting, 'I threw them out!'
I could have kissed them! (Instead, I hugged them...personal space and all that 😉). The fact that this person had come to the realisation that this small ritual had such an effect on their happiness and certainly did not deserve to is incredible - and NOT easy!
We have been brought up in a world that puts so much focus on this number. We have been taught that it is a measure of health, our worth, that the smaller it is the more 'successful' we are.
From an outside perspective, it all seems a little ridiculous...Step on a little white square feeling one way, close your eyes and hope for some magical number, open them and step off feeling a different way depending on the outcome. Nothing has changed in the 15 seconds that all this takes, other than you have found out your relationship to gravity at that particular moment in time. But that little white square can have massive impacts on our mental health, self worth, perception of ourselves and our fitness goals.
Now, of course the scales have their place as one one measurement of progress, but their usefulness comes down to your goals and the data collected and even then, the information is flawed.
For example, weighing yourself daily and comparing one day to the next isn't going to tell you much and will just leave you feeling defeated. However, if you compared the first of the month to the first day of the following month, this would give you a more accurate representation of a change in weight. BUT here is where using the scales as a measurement of progress is flawed. The scales weigh your entire body - bones, fluid, skin, muscle, fat, the contents of your stomach...If you have been working out as well as eating well, it is still entirely possible that your weight hasn't changed much, or you have even gained a little weight rather than lost it!
A weight increase isn't necessarily a bad thing...As an example, think of our strong and fit All Blacks. Many of them weigh upwards of 90kg - I dare say not many of us would accuse them of being overweight or in need of doing more training!
If you've started a health and fitness regime, your body composition will most likely have changed - you may have built more muscle and lost some body fat. You're probably feeling great, your clothes are fitting better, you may be noticing some muscle definition and you're feeling less puffed during your workouts - all major wins and definite markers of progress!
Here is the problem with using scales to tell you how you're going...Despite all of these positives, it is easy to let that number get you down and feel as if all your hard work hasn't been worth it.
Of course that couldn't be further from the truth! Steady and maintainable is what we should all be looking for.
Changing our mindset from being focused on weight and 'smaller is better', to something more positive or goal oriented like 'how do I feel' or 'what can my body do?' is a great way of making the journey enjoyable and keeping yourself on track.
If you're feeling great and can appreciate your body for the cool stuff it can do, what more can you ask for?!
Below are a few ideas for progress tracking that don't involve weight or the scales. Try changing your focus and see how much better you feel about yourself and the amazing positive steps you are taking for your health!
Set yourself a goal! Whether it's increasing your squat weight, running 5km without stopping, increasing your box jump height...Something that you can practice and test yourself with is a great way to prove to yourself that what you're doing is definitely having benefits!
Clothing. Use this one as a guide only, but notice how you feel in your favourite items. On that note, holding onto items that don't fit can have the same effect on our mental health as the scales - if it hasn't fitted for a long time, get rid of it and stop torturing yourself!
If you do choose to use the scales, I would recommend no more than monthly. Weigh yourself on the same day, at the same time each month. Women, also take your menstrual cycle into account - I'm sure I don't need to tell any of you how much of an effect this can have on your weight and body and this is totally normal.
Fitness tests. These can be as simple as you like, just complete the same tests each time - either monthly or bi-monthly. Things like the number of press ups to failure, length of wall sit or a 1km run time are all easily measured and are great ways to show progress.
An Evolt Body Scan. We are very lucky to have one of these incredible machines at Four Peak Fitness, this machine will give you a pretty good idea about what exactly your body is made up of! How much muscle, fat, bone, water and any imbalances within your body. If you're beginning a new fitness journey, a body scan can be a great place to start setting some goals and tracking their progress!
How are you actually feeling?! I'm not asking you to keep an in-depth journal, but taking note of how you feel physically and mentally every few days is a great way to remind yourself of why you're doing what you're doing and keeping you motivated!
Remember, NO-ONE's journey is linear! We all have up's and downs, life happens, sometimes we just don't want to 'do the thing' and that is OK!
Changing our focus away from that number and taking more notice of what is actually going on in our own bodies could be key to long term success in our health and fitness pursuits. This may in turn lead to that number decreasing by default, but if it doesn't and you're feeling great and smashing your goals, who even cares?!!
If you're interested in finding out more about what's going on in your body, book in for an Evolt Body Scan with one of our team today. It's takes less than 5 minutes and can be a great starting point for goal setting and getting a pretty good idea of where your health is at.
Likewise, if you're interested in personal training or group fitness, reach out! Using a trainer can help set you off in the right direction and get you achieving your long term health and fitness goals. Take a read of our trainer profiles and get in touch today!