So you’ve calculated your TDEE, picked out a diet plan, did some planning, took some “before” photos, and prepped your meals for the week. You go out for a walk every day and hit the step goal on your fitness tracker. You are feeling pumped about this new journey you have embarked on. And then, at the end of the week, you step on the scale, (making sure to do so correctly) and… ugh. It hasn’t budged. It can be easy to get discouraged, but please, don’t lose hope! Here’s why the scale might not be reflecting progress, and other tactics you try instead to track your progress.
Weight loss is rarely linear
As much as we would like the graph of our weight loss to be a nice, gently sloping curve, more often than not, it has spikes and twists and turns in it. This is normal. You will have periods where you feel like you are doing everything right, but the scale just does not move. And just when you’re about to give up, you’ll have a huge “woosh”, and appear to lose many pounds in a short period of time. The trick to getting to that “woosh”, however, is to not give up!
You may be retaining water
One reason for the scale not moving may be water retention. A big meal, or a salty one, can cause your body to channel fluid to your stomach rather than your bladder. If you are on your period, you may have some bloating. Even a tough workout can send water to your muscles to help with recovery. If this is the case, your only recourse is to be patient, wait it out, and let your body return to normal.
You may be building muscle
If your new fitness regimen includes lifting weights, you could be putting on some muscle (ah, those newbie gainz!). So while you may be burning off some of that stubborn body fat, the muscle you are putting on might make it look like you’ve made no progress on the scale. Be patient, because you are going to look fantastic!
You may be in a plateau
It is a somewhat inevitable occurrence in a weight loss journey: the dreaded plateau. As you lose weight, your body simply needs fewer calories to sustain you. And so, some adjustments need to be made. Shaking up your routine a bit can help get you out of a rut if you are stuck.
So now we know why the scale might be stuck. Let’s look at what you can do instead to keep pumped about your progress. Try one of these tactics:
Try comparing photos
This is when those “before” pictures you took really come in handy. Take some new pictures to compare yourself to. We don’t really register the teeny tiny changes that happen every day, but compare yourself to a picture from even a month ago, and you’ll see some big changes.
Taking measurements with measuring tape is also a good way to measure your progress. Sometimes the scale won’t move, but you’ll see that you’ve dropped inches from here or there. I like to measure myself using tape about once a month.
Try on old clothes
If you don’t have measuring tape, you can use an old pair of jeans as your yardstick. Try on some old clothes that you haven’t worn in awhile. How do they fit? This can be especially eye opening when putting on clothes from your summer wardrobe after a long winter!
Try a body scan
If you want the best data available on how you are truly progressing, then getting a body scan is the way to go. Unfortunately, they can be expensive, but you can check to see if your insurance will cover it. Do a Google search for “body scan” + your city, and you can find clinics in your area that offer the service.
How do you feel?
I’m a big fan of tracking progress with cold, hard numbers, but there is much to be said for stepping back from all of that and just reflecting on how you feel. Are you more energetic? Do you feel “lighter”, either physically or mentally? Is your face clearer?
There are so many more ways to measure your progress aside from the scale, so don’t let your least favorite appliance bring you down!