We love a number, don’t we? It’s our way to measure progress and keep score. And – if I’m honest – I believe we should measure and track all the things important to us. Including – our weight. But (and it’s a BIG but) you need to know the rules of the game before you can keep score.
Have I lost you? Let me explain…I can lose as much as 2lbs overnight. And during a heavy 90-minute workout, I can lose as much as 4-6lbs. Now before you get excited and ask how I do it… Let me make it clear that this isn’t real weight loss. It’s all water.
My point is this:
When I step on the scales in the morning or after training the number I see isn’t my real weight. It’s a dehydrated me. It’s not accurate. My scales do not and cannot take into account how much I sweat, how much I drink, or how much I have eaten. And because of this, my weight (and your weight) can vary significantly over a 24 hour period. But it’s not just water that will change how much you weigh. The energy stores in your muscles affect it too. For example, if you embark on a low-carb diet combined with intense exercise you will deplete the glycogen (energy) stores in your muscles.
When these stores are full you weigh more and when they are empty you weigh less. When you deplete your glycogen stores you can lose as much as 4lbs in just a few days. Remember this is thanks to empty muscles – not fat loss. So the next time you fill up on carbs your body it will replenish itself and suck up the energy to fill its glycogen stores.
In a nutshell, the weight goes back on. That’s not a bad thing, you need these energy stores. And these are the rules of the game I was talking about. These are the things you need to take into account when you are weighing yourself and monitoring progress. Hopefully, you now appreciate that weight loss and changes to your body composition can be difficult to measure with weighing scales. That’s a fact and it’s the reason most top personal trainers use a range of tests to monitor their client’s progress. You should too.
In addition to weighing yourself, I recommend you also:
1) Use the picture test
Quite simply take a picture from the front, back, and side then sees for differences as the weeks go by.
2) Determine your body composition
This is a breakdown of how much body fat and lean muscle you have and can be measured with special scales or skinfold calipers you can pick up cheaply online.
3) Take measurements
Measure your thighs, waist, hips, chest, shoulders, upper arms, and calves to see how they are changing with time.
4) The trouser test
A true measure of how your appearance is changing by simply seeing if your trousers are getting looser. The four methods combined with your weight are a more accurate and motivating way of measuring change and monitoring your success. On its own, weight is just a number. It doesn’t always tell you if you’re getting bigger or smaller. It goes up and down and can deceive you. Weight loss is not the best indicator. Instead, take a picture, find out your body composition, check your trousers, measure yourself, AND weigh yourself. Let the combination of measurements guide your progress and keep you sane.
Which one of these ideas clicked with you the most? What topics are on your mind right now? When you guys share your takeaways in the comments, it helps us see what kind of information is actually valuable to you and we can focus on it more. We’re super interested in knowing which ones sparked an idea in your mind. Let us know in the comments.