“The scale can only tell you what you weigh; not who you are.” ― Steve Maraboli
During my fat loss journey of losing 200lbs, I would weigh in once per week, on Saturday. What the scale showed me that morning would dictate how my entire weekend went. I had weeks where I would lose 3-4lbs from Saturday to Saturday and I would feel great and be motivated for another week. I also had weeks where I would either have no change or gain weight, and I was entirely unmotivated and depressed. Even worse, I would have weeks where I would “only” lose 1-2lbs and think that I had done something wrong, and start to second guess myself, second guess the process, and begin to review my week to see where I went “wrong.”
I thought that the scale was the end all, be all indicator of success or failure. And because of that, I let a single number dictate my mood, my perspective of my hard work, and my motivation to continue. In response to a weight on the scale I didn’t like, I would previously say “to hell with this” and end up having a weekend long binge of drinking and junk food.
I find this strikingly similar to how an entire city seems to react to their NFL team’s performance. Being from Pittsburgh, a Steelers loss can make Mondays even more morose than usual.
Since the scale does not necessarily show if fat loss (our real goal) has occurred, it is best to have other ways to measure non scale successes, such as waist measurements. Fitocracy’s own Dick Talens finds that for “every inch off of your waist measurements, roughly 4-5 lbs of fat is lost”. This is one of the primary reasons that we record both scale weight, and measurements around the waist. However, even waist measurements can have fluctuations for various reasons.
Since both the scale and measurements can fluctuate wildly in both directions dependent on so many factors, it is best to focus on the victories and successes in the area of the very things that are actually allowing the desired fat loss to happen: changes in our habits and our behaviors.
For example, I used to go through a case or two of beer a month. I’ve switched to not keeping much beer in the house and having 1-2 max on occasions when going out. While at first glance this seems like something minor, but I’ve eliminated a trigger food from being in the house as drinking at home would always lead to poor choices and/or binges. I’ve also reduced incoming calories from alcohol and as a side effect I have developed a better taste in beers, as when I do have a beer I want it to be a great one (and I’d be more comfortable ordering a single expensive beer vs a case of cheaper beer).
Another example that I commonly see is that clients, after they’ve worked with me for a few weeks have said things like “Yes, for this holiday I went over on my calorie goal, but it wasn’t as far over as I would have gone normally.” That is a huge success, and vastly more important than any scale number. Think about that for a moment. Given how often we have holidays, parties, social obligations, food at work or school, overeating less than you normally would have is something that really adds up over time. So while it may seem like something minor, it is one of the building blocks of successful long term habits. Losing a large amount of fat and keeping it off requires the combined effort of many smaller habits, rather than a single habit that is a point of failure.
We should focus on and celebrate successes that are not related to the scale and measurements. Instead, celebrate victories that come from minor, but consequential, changes in your habits. Over time, these are the changes that add up to create the foundation for your permanent fat loss.
What are some other examples of your own personal non-scale victories that may seem minor at first glance but are actually evidence of consequential changes?