ASK A TRAINER: How much should I care about the scale?

Dear Fitbabe,

I love your physique. How important is weighing yourself for measuring weight loss? From Bikini Competitor Wanna Be

Thanks future bikini girl! Great question! Scales will tell you only whether you have gained or lost weight. They will not reveal if that weight consisted of fat or muscle or both. Scales are misleading because quite often our weight is related to water loss/gain. For example, if you weigh yourself first thing in the morning you are going to get a different score than if you weigh yourself after a meal. Or, if you weigh yourself after a hard leg workout, the scale’s number may be higher due to water retention.

It is for these reasons that I get a little frustrated when I see women/men weighing themselves and then getting shocked and upset. There is a better way to measure weight loss. If you insist on using scales, be sure to weigh yourself at the same time every week, on the same scale. The best idea is to weigh yourself first thing in the morning after going to the toilet and before eating breakfast.

In my opinion, a better way to assess weight loss is to use a tape measure. Measure your chest, waist, hips and gluteal fold (right under your buttock) every 4-6 weeks and see whether they are getting smaller or bigger. This method can also be misleading because you might have gained muscle, making the numbers increase.

To be honest, I think the best way to determine whether or not you have lost weight is to look in the mirror. Before and after photos are another great way of making comparisions. Photos do not lie and they force you to face facts about whether you are losing or gaining weight. Some women will think that they have lost weight when they probably haven’t, and vice versa. In any case, do not become a slave to the scale!

Deanna Harder

Fitness Leadership Diploma, CSEP-CPT (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology-Certified Personal Trainer), and Figure Competitor

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