It has become the common phrase ‘I want to lose weight’ when in reality people don’t want to lose weight, the weight doesn’t really matter. What they want is to change aesthetically, it should be ‘I want to reduce body fat percentage’. This isn’t helped as a lot of what you see on social media and on the television is weight loss shows, weight loss diets, train for weight loss.
Is weight loss really what you want to achieve? Because more often than not what people actually care about is how the look and how the feel about how they look. So when we talk about ‘look’ we are talking about appearance and aesthetics. How does my bum look? are my legs looking bigger/smaller? Has my muffin top disappeared yet?
Now clearly there is a link between weight and body aesthetics, having excess fat is going to increase your bodyweight, but to use the scales as your form of progress tracking when your goal is actually aesthetic goal is like doing a bleep test when your goal is to get seriously strong. The measurement of progress has to directly link to the desired goal. Aesthetic measurements for aesthetic goals.
If you actually google 'weight loss' and go to images pictures of people measuring their stomachs come up, not people standing on scales. hmmm...
Some of you might be thinking ‘but weight loss is important for many health reasons.’ in this case that is again indirectly correct. It is reduction in body fat that is usually most important to health, in turn that creates weight loss but the goal shouldn’t be weight loss it should be body fat reduction alongside health optimization with weight loss as a by product. Monitor weight but don’t use it as your sole measurement of progress.
Back to the aesthetic side of things another PT I work with summed it up very well. A man doesn’t walk into a bar, see’s a women standing at the bar with her friends and says ‘coorrr she’s light’. (Imagine this in his thick Bristolian accent).
To get this across to potential clients I will always take them through this story:
Imagine if this is what we were to do. We place you in front of the mirror in your underwear, you take a look at yourself and we take a few progress pictures. Then we chuck you on the scales to see where your weight currently sits.
Then for the next 12 weeks you follow the guidelines that we layout for you and you use the tools that we provide, you work your socks off in the gym and take everything on board, your nutrition is fantastic, you have done brilliantly. Just as we asked you to. During the 12 weeks you are not to step foot on the scales.
Once the 12 weeks are up we put you in front of the mirror, take a look at the progress pictures, we ask ‘how do you feel?’ you respond ‘I look f***ing good! I feel amazing!’ then we chuck you back on the scales. Let’s say that your weight hasn’t dropped as much as you’d imagined it might, how would you feel? What would you say? More often than not the answer is ‘I don’t really care!’
Because your goal isn’t how much you weigh! It’s how you look and feel about yourself! Use the correct measurements for the correct goal. Change the goal from weight loss to body fat reduction. Track your progress with a tape measure and a camera because that is the true measure of your progress.
Now I would be hypocrite if I was to say that I myself or my clients never weigh themselves, we do so to monitor, to see changes in weight and then identify with our progress trackers what those changes may be. The fluctuation of a few pounds either way shouldn’t be a concern but when weight moves consistently up or down it is good reason to get the tape measure out or get in front of the mirror and check out the progress… with our progress trackers.
The true issue here is if you are using the scales alone to track your progress because the scales do not tell the whole story. If you are set on using the scales as a progress tracker please make sure you also do progress pictures and measure your body parts (arm, chest, waist, hips and thigh) so that you get a clear picture of progress.
Finally to add into all this when it comes to tracking progress, the more you track the more progress you will see. If you track all your gym sessions, do a strength and fitness test every six weeks, test your flexibility, take progress pictures once a month, get the tape measure out and journal about your thoughts and actions you are much more likely to see the many areas you are improving in.
Match your measurements of progress to your desired goal.