Why Your Scale Shouldn’t Be Your Only Measure of Progress

Today I want to talk about something that most of us really don’t like, and that is the dreaded scale. Those scales can be so maddening, so that’s why I want to talk to you about them. When it comes to losing weight and getting healthier, sometimes we have to look past that scale and look for non-scale victories instead. 

Before I got clear on my nutrition and the direction I wanted to go, I started and stopped so many diets and plans because of that stupid scale. I’d do all this hard work, and I knew I had done everything just like I was supposed to. Then a week later I’d step on that scale and it hadn’t budged. I just couldn’t understand it.

I started and stopped so many diets and plans because of that stupid scale.

That’s why it is important to put the focus on something besides the scale to keep going because the scale will move, just not always when and how we want it to. A scale isn’t the only measurement of our success. But still, when it comes time to measure our progress, and all of our hard work, where do we turn? The scale. We are so fixated on the numbers on that scale that even if we are feeling better, even if our clothes are fitting looser, even if we are sleeping better, we dismiss those things and we don’t see the progress if those numbers don’t change.

It’s natural when getting healthy to have fluctuations and plateaus, and if you get stuck for too long, it can be very discouraging. Trust me, I know. I once had a plateau that lasted nearly a year and a half. I was still doing things “right,” but I just didn’t have quite all of the elements in place that I needed. Ultimately, once I started working with my coach, she was able to help me make just a few tweaks and I was back in action.  But, had I stopped everything I had been doing because I was STUCK on the scale, I would have slid right back and lost any progress I had made and would have lost the benefits of how I was FEELING all because of a stuck scale.

That stall though, and the ones that you experience, are the times that we have to look at other things to keep us going and motivated. So, what are some of the other things that you can use to measure your success?

As we start to eat better, drink more water, and fill up on less crap, we notice that our skin gets better too.

Energy – Where is your energy at? I’m not talking about the bouncing off the walls energy, but since you are eating better, are you feeling better? In the mornings have you caught yourself starting to wake up before your alarm goes off, or do you wake up feeling a bit more ready to take on the day? Are you starting to sleep better? Did you used to wake up five times a night and now you only wake up once or twice a night? Did you used to toss and turn all night and now you don’t? These are all signs that your body has more energy and is healthier because of the things that you eat.

Clothes – Yep, your clothes. How are they fitting? You look in the mirror you can’t quite decide if your jeans are just stretching out a bit or you’re actually losing inches. We love to downplay our results by saying things are getting stretched out instead of admitting that things are getting looser because of our new habits. So, we put on a pair of pants that we haven’t been able to wear for a while and then – hmmm….maybe something really is happening. 

Does that resonate with you so far? Have you noticed that you are feeling better, have more energy, your clothes are fitting more loosely, but you still ditched the plan because the scale didn’t move so you decided your efforts weren’t worth it? If that sounds like you, keep looking for those non-scale indicators that you are doing things right.

Stress – Have you noticed that you are dealing with stress better? Are you able to fluff stuff off that would have bothered you in the past? This is likely the result of a healthier diet. 

Body Aches – When we are off-kilter, our bodies start to ache more. This is especially true if you have arthritis or other conditions that cause you to have pain. I have a herniated disc and when I changed up my eating and added supplements, I no longer had to have injections to help with the pain. Losing weight wasn’t enough but making my diet healthier was. I’ve also had migraines since I was 2 ½ years old, but changing my nutrition also got rid of them.

Your Skin – As we start to eat better, drink more water, and fill up on less crap, we notice that our skin gets better too. Those patchy places, itchy spots, and acne are clearing up. They may not go completely away, but they are probably getting better. 

Stomach – Digestive issues are a common complaint, but food, nutrition, and supplements can have a huge impact on our digestive tract. Are you feeling a little less bloated now that you are eating healthier? Are you having regular bowel movements? You should have at least one solid bowel movement every single day. Your stomach probably doesn’t hurt as much, and it may even have a slightly different shape.

Mood – I know we talked about handling stress better, but do you just seem to be in a better mood overall? Have you thought, “I’m a better wife, a better mom, I feel better, I’m happier, and I’m just in a better mood when I eat healthier?” You’re not alone. Still many of us go back to eating junk food. We understand the connection between how we feel and what we eat, but we can’t quite commit to making the changes and making them stick…usually because of frustrations with the scale.

Keep Up with the Kids – So you may not be ready to go outside and play soccer for three hours, but are you noticing that you have more energy even if it’s just to read an extra book or play a board game? Are you finding that you have just a little bit more get up and go? 

Overall the scale might not be changing, but you can be sure that if you are feeling some of these changes, your overall health is changing too. If your doctor is monitoring your progress, he or she would probably notice that your blood work is improving, your heart is getting stronger, and your immune system is healthier and more able to fight off all those bad bugs.

If you can’t see or feel these things, it is likely that you are so fixated on that stinkin’ scale you can’t see the other measures of your progress. Kick that scale to the curb if you have to. 

Seriously, give it away or take a sledgehammer to it if it’s derailing you sticking to a healthier version of yourself. 

If you are feeling healthier, looking better, becoming stronger, glowing more, sleeping at night, experiencing energy – all those things that can’t be measured by the scale – you are having SUCCESS! 

Use that scale as a little bit of a guide if you think you need to, but if you are using it to decide if you are going to continue or stop something and you’re going to ignore all of those non-scale victories that we just talked about, then step away from that scale. If you are doing things right and fueling your body with the right things, the scale will eventually follow. Please don’t let that scale make it or break it for you. 

Bonus: If you can’t see your progress in all of those other ways, try taking photos of yourself. I’ll go into more detail about this later, but our brains imprint what our old bodies look like, so even if we look in the mirror, we still see our old, heavier selves.

We simply cannot recognize those changes in the mirror at first. So, take photos of yourself as time passes, put them side by side, and compare your progression. I’m betting that you’ll see some pretty big changes in yourself that you just hadn’t noticed before.

3 thoughts on “Why Your Scale Shouldn’t Be Your Only Measure of Progress”

  1. I love this so much.

    I take pics and measure inches weekly so that I can see the progress that the scale is not showing YET.

    Tracking my sleep improvement with my fitbit and my water intake all helps soooo much.

    Thank you for the reminder that the scale is not the be all, end all.

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