8 min read

The Scale Sucks

by | Nutrition

Let me tell you a story.

I had a client; let’s call her Kelly Kapoor.

Kelly came to me wanting to lose fat and build muscle—specifically build up her booty and trim her waist. You know, like nearly every woman on earth.

Kelly was already pretty active, so she started out in a decent spot.

Before we started our training we took measurements and pictures to ensure she’s making the progress she wants.

Kelly weighed 105 pounds when we started; she is only 5 foot 1, so she’s fairly petite. Kelly’s waist (around belly button) measured 28 inches in circumference and her hips (around her tushy) measured 30 inches.

Her left arm was a half inch smaller than her right arm, and her right thigh was a half inch smaller than her left thigh.

After two weeks Kelly was down a pound, weighing 104, she was feeling much stronger, and her energy levels were higher than usual.

Most importantly, Kelly was really enjoying her workouts.

Fast forward another two and a half weeks; we’re just starting our second month of training together.

Kelly came into our midweek session looking pretty down and out. This was unusual for her.

If you knew her, you’d know she was a really happy-go-lucky type of person who really enjoyed her workouts.

I asked her how her day was going and I got an “Um, it’s okay, I guess.”

She went on to tell me she weighed 108 that day and she wasn’t sure if our strategy was working.

She didn’t see a huge difference in her pictures either.

I could tell she felt like I once did in the beginning of my journey: the feeling of not having any control over your body.

To calm her spirit, I had to remind her why her fears are nothing to stress over.

There were a few reasons why I told her she shouldn’t be worried:

1. Her measurements showed progress.

2. Weight Fluctuates daily.

3. She was on her period.

4. She built muscle.

5. She felt better.

6. She was being impatient.

I’m going to break these down for you just as I did for Kelly.

It’s important you know this so when you want to quit because this whole fitness thing isn’t working for you, you can come back and read this to bring yourself back to reality.

 

1. Her measurements showed progress.

After four weeks, Kelly’s waist measured 27 inches, and her hips measured 33 inches. Not only that, we achieved symmetry in both her arms and her thighs. We lost fat in her stomach and gained muscle in her booty, arms, and thighs.

She lost an inch on her waist and gained 3 inches on her rump.

Or, as the great poet Drake would say, “And your stomach on flat flat, And your ass on what’s that?”

 

2. Weight fluctuates daily.

Your weight fluctuates due to a variety of reasons.

You could’ve consumed more sodium or carbs than usual the day before, causing you to retain water.

You could’ve eaten later at night than you normally do.

You could’ve weighed yourself at a different time.

You could’ve forgotten to take a dump before you weighed yourself.

You could’ve eaten something that didn’t digest too well.

Your weight can go up when you’re really stressed.

Your weight loss can be inhibited due to a lack of sleep.

Your weight might not drop because you’ve built muscle.

All of these things can play a role in your weight.

The scale is a very valuable tool, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The scale does not dictate your success.

Also, one day doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things.

There’s a reason I advise weighing every day and taking the average every week. You can see the trends of your weight, and it takes away the importance of a single day’s weight.

Kelly’s average weight that week was only 106, making her weigh-in at 108 an outlier. Another day that same week she weighed 104.

 

3. Kelly was on her period.

Not only was Kelly’s weekly weight only up one pound, but it was also only up one pound while she was on her period.

That’s actually amazing.

I’ve trained women whose weekly average shot up seven pounds when they were on their period. Swear.

I’m not exaggerating. Biology is crazy.

In my experiences, some women bloat the week before their period and some women bloat the week of their period.

Tracking your weight and journaling about how you feel each day can help you get a better idea of how your body reacts to weight training and certain foods while you’re spending the week with TOM.

 

4. She built muscle.

Kelly built muscle in her arms, legs, and glutes.

These were all the areas that she wanted to bring out. When you’re building muscle, your scale weight will probably go up.

If you’re just beginning, the scale might stay the same because you can potentially lose fat and build muscle for a short period of time.

 

5. She felt better.

Kelly felt stronger, more confident in herself, more energetic, and she felt like her eating habits were improving.

Kelly added 35 pounds to her deadlift in a month. That’s almost 10 pounds each week.

In every area besides the scale, Kelly felt she had made leaps and bounds of progress. Kelly was right, her progress was tremendous.

Improvement and progress give us a sense of purpose, a sense of happiness.

Kelly felt like if her weight increased or didn’t go down that it meant she wasn’t improving. This can be extremely hard to see after putting in so much hard work. Kelly felt stuck.

I’m sure when you look back at your darkest times you felt like you were stuck. You probably felt like you weren’t doing improving or progressing in any area of your life.

When you assess progress, look at it from all angles. Just as it’s important to assess each area of our life, it’s important to look at each area through multiple scopes.

When you see all these different ways to measure progress, it makes it easier to find the positive and hold onto it.

When you feel like you’re getting better in any fashion it makes you feel happier and more confident in yourself.

The improvement in happiness and confidence will always be more important than the number on a scale.

 

6. She was being impatient.

When you look in the mirror every day it’s hard to see your progress.

Think about every time you look at old photos and think “I looked so young,” or “I was so skinny.”

Probably more times than you’d like to admit. We almost never see the differences from day to day. Most of the time we don’t even see differences from month to month.

In my experiences, we see differences in our body every three months. This is purely anecdotal, but it’s held to be true with myself and my clients.

Normally this is how it goes:

The first month or two of consistent training and eating better you feel different, but don’t see any difference in your body. You feel more energy, get better sleep, feel stronger, and feel more confident. Your clothes will probably start to fit better in the six-to-eight-week range.

Two-to-three months in the people around you will start telling you they can tell you’ve been working out. Hell, a lot of people might even ask you what you’ve been doing. It’s nice to hear, but you’ll probably convince yourself they’re full of shit because you still don’t see a difference.

In the third or fourth month, you’ll finally see differences in your body.

You’ll experience a lot of highs and lows in those first few months. It’s going to be different; you’re going to feel uncomfortable, discouraged at times too.

Once you get through those first few months and begin to actually see progress, you’ll begin a lifelong journey that you never expected.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows once you get past the first three months, but you begin to see things differently and things definitely get a bit easier.

Consistency breed results, results breed motivation, and motivation breeds consistency. Everything begins and ends with consistency.

The scale doesn’t tell the whole story. It can be great when used in conjunction with other progress-tracking tools, but the scale sucks by itself.

Connor Youngman is a personal trainer, fitness writer, podcaster, and competitive coffee chugger. He has a deep love for the Chicago Bears, Stoic Philosophy, Harry Potter, and writing about himself in the third person.