Get Off The Scale

Someone asked me about weight loss recently and, is it normal to lose more weight in the first week of eating Paleo and then stop losing in subsequent weeks. Here’s part of my answer: Please throw out your scale!

Now, here’s why. The number on the scale is not a good indicator of how healthy you actually are. Ultimately that should be our goal, to be healthy, not necessarily a certain weight. For example, if you look at a BMI (Body Mass Index: a ratio of your height to weight) score I am on the high end of ‘normal weight’ I better not gain another 8 pounds of muscle or I’d be in the overweight category. BMI and your bathroom scale do not take into consideration how much muscle mass you have, water weight or hydration levels, lean mass and body fat independently. It just lumps everything into one big pile and spits out a number. That’s not very helpful in telling us how healthy we are.

Take a look at the graph below. All of the items in the middle are measurable. There are guidelines that tell us what a healthy range is for blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat etc. On the sickness side this would be where you’d have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and so on, toward wellness would be in the normal range and toward fitness above normal. The more items on the list that you have moving toward the right side of the curve, the ‘healthier’ you are. You’re moving in the right direction. This is a far better indicator of your progress than a scale.

Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 9.18.02 PM

Another great measurement is your body composition. We had Rebecca Bilodeau at the gym when the challenge started to do body compositions which measure your body fat percentage, lean mass/muscle mass, hydration/water weight etc. She will be coming back to repeat those tests at the end of the challenge as well. If you did the test at the start and you do it again at the end you will know you are moving in the right direction if your body fat percentage has gone down and or your lean/muscle mass has gone up. No, it’s not immediate feedback like stepping on a scale every morning but it is certainly more accurate.

Keep in mind that as you may be losing weight you are also gaining muscle, which weighs more and may not give you an accurate number on the scale causing you to think you’re not moving in the right direction when in fact you are. Another way to notice progress might be how your clothes fit. Clothes getting bigger but number on the scale not budging? You’re still doing alright.


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