Judging Weight Loss When the Scale Doesn’t Move


WTF!

 

I did everything right and my weight hasn’t moved in 2 weeks! 

 

I skipped Friday night pizza and nothing happened!  What am I even doing this for?!?!

 

We’ve all been there.  The initial weight loss put us on cloud nine but now three weeks later it seems like all of our hard work was useless.

 

What gives?

 

Let’s hit the weight loss checklist.

 

Ate healthy for the week?

 

Yup.

 

Worked out at least 3 days a week?

 

Yup.

 

Drank at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water?

 

Yup.

 

So we did all this and the scale didn’t move?  Seems like a waste of time then, right?

 

Despite feeling like all of our dedication was for not; this is a critical turning point in dieting.  This is the point where most people jump off the wagon and go on week long binges to gain back all the weight they lost.  Stay on the wagon and you are on your way to Sexy Town, population you bro.

 

WHAT GOES INTO WEIGHT

 

That number staring at you from in between your toes is a concoction of a whole host of factors and processes going on inside you.  Most of which are out of our control.

 

Weight is affected by how much water we’re holding, food being digested, poop, pee, bones, organs and finally muscle and fat. Really we only have control over the last two.  

 

So to see the scale not move we should really be asking ourselves “Are we full of shit?”

 

If we’ve done everything right, chances are we just need to make a boom-boom.  Crude, funny but nevertheless true.

 

WEIGHT LOSS METRICS

 

From Investopedia

Metrics: Parameters or measures of quantitative assessment used for measurement comparison or to track performance.

 

From Me

 

Metrics: How to tell if stuff is working.

 

In my day job I look at metrics to determine the health of systems.  Sometimes the most obvious metrics, like weight, doesn’t give us a good assessment of the situation since there are many variables that go into it.

 

As they say in the business world what gets measured gets managed, so here are some more reliable progress metrics when that damn scale doesn’t move.

 

CONSISTENCY 

 

Consistency in doing the right things is a sure fire way to make progress.  Consistency in the other direction make XL t-shirt look like smediums.

 

Eating real foods 90% of the time? 

 

Meal prepping? 

 

Hitting the gym? 

 

If we can say yes to the questions above, then we are making progress in the right direction.

 

Check back weekly on how the it went.  The key here is to be honest with yourself.

 

UP YOUR SELFIE GAME

weight-loss- success-me

Where and how our weight is distributed can be vastly different even at the same weight.   Both of these pics are of me at 180lbs.

 

Yep, same weight but have vastly different visuals.  One is my opinion, the best my body has looked and the other is a guy two months removed from back surgery and hasn’t hit the gym in 4 months.  And yes, that is the same ugly shower curtain.

Weight is easy to track but it’s not a good metric to base success.

 

In the end how we look is what we are going for, not a specific weight.  Take weekly selfies in the same room, lighting, time of day to assess progress.  

 

TRACK LIFE

 

Too embarrassed about having half naked bathroom selfies on your phone?  Track everyday tasks instead.

 

Walking up stairs, time playing with the kids and energy levels throughout the day are great indicators you are trending in the right direction. 

 

Getting up a flight of stairs without stopping for the “check my phone” break shows an increase in the hearts strength, lung capacity and leg strength.

 

Besides the aesthetic we are looking for, it’s also helpful to move through life effortlessly.

 

More time with kids and doing the things we want rather than taking a nap because we had to walk up two flights of stairs.  Although, naps are pretty sweet.

 

WEAR PANTS

 

Wearing pants can be the difference between functioning member of society and being a convicted felon.

 

If we decide to wear pants (and I strongly encourage it) check the fit in the waist.  More give in the waist equals more progress.   This is a good indicator because it’s hard to thicken the waist doing exercises but extremely easy to put on fat after that milkshake.

 

Don’t check the fit in the thighs because one set of walking lunges will have our thighs swoll.  The waist, even if we just finish doing 30 sets of 100 crunches won’t increase in size.

 

SLEEP LIKE A BABY

 

Sleep quality is an underrated indicator of health.

 

An increase in sleep quality can tell us if we are going in the right direction.  Aim for quality over quantity.  Six hours of quality sleep is better than eight of crappy sleep.

 

Ideally sleeping like a baby is the pinnacle of sleep quality.  This where we wake up feeling rested and not like we drank our ass off the night before.

 

MEASURE BODY FAT

 

Let me preface this by saying that cheap methods of measuring body fat are inaccurate at best.  This includes skin calipers, bioelectrical impedance or any other way to measure body fat not at a research facility.

 

The most common way, skin calipers, is very subjective due to weight, water fluctuations and who does the measurement.  With this method your body fat could vary by a few percent by drinking a glass a water in between readings.

 

Having said that as long as we are consistent with the measurement (same person, same spots) then it’s still a good indicator of progress.  We can still see if you are losing fat or gaining it and ultimately that is what we are after.

 

Consistency in an inaccurate process will still give us a metric we can use.

 

TAKE MEASUREMENTS

 

Bust out the tape measure, let’s see how big the guns are.

 

One pound of fat takes up more area than a pound of muscle.  By measuring around a body part we can see numerically our body changing even if you can’t see it in the mirror yet. 

 

Nerd Tip: After you get a few data points graph it over time.  Sometimes seeing a raw number doesn’t do the loss justice…but a graph does!  Excel that shit.

 

Good places to take measurements are:

Bicep (Midway between elbow and shoulder)

Chest (Across the nips)

Belly (Across the belly button)

Thigh (Midway between the knee and hip)

 

Use your non dominate side for measurements.  Righties use the right side for measurements.  Take the measurement in the same way each time for consistency.

 

Progress is not linear regardless of metric.  Some weeks are better than others.  Some weeks we will lose two inches and others nothing changes.  The important thing is we keep moving forward.  Moving backwards only leads to feeling like we lost. 

 

YOUR TURN

 

How do you measure success?

 

Dave