weight scale

A former client of mine used to put so much faith into her scale to “hold her accountable”.  One problem with that, however, is that she allowed the scale to determine her outlook and mood.

I remember her telling me, after a couple of months of training together (and following my direction to not weigh herself during this time), that she was feeling so good about her progress… her clothes were looser, she had more energy, she was feeling stronger… UNTIL she stepped on the scale and saw that the number hadn’t really budged much from the last time she stepped on it.  Her good mood went out the window and she immediately became discouraged.

As with my former client, you might find that some of your clients, who have become used to weighing themselves on a regular basis, develop an attachment to the idea that the number on the scale is inversely related to their progress… so when the number goes up, they’re doing something wrong; and when the number goes down, their efforts are working.  What they fail to consider is that the weight variance could be related to water retention (or loss), or an increase (or decrease) in muscle mass.  Unfortunately, the scale does not take these factors into consideration.

In other words, the number on the scale, as well as the direction it’s swinging in, doesn’t always tell the full story.

Can a person’s weight be an indicator of progress?  Sure.  It can certainly be a useful tool if someone has a medical need to lose a significant amount of weight, especially since they will be losing weight over a longer period of time.  However, in the scheme of things, it really isn’t the best measurement tool.

If your client has a healthy approach to the scale and weighing themselves, then it’s likely not going to be detrimental for them to step on it every now and then.  However, it’s not necessary or recommended to weigh every day since our bodies fluctuate so much.

Better means for tracking progress would be exactly what my former client took note of when she put the scale away:

  • Energy levels
  • How clothing fits
  • Strength gains

In addition, keeping a daily fitness/nutrition journal and taking weekly progress pictures will be a huge help in keeping track of progress on a regular basis.

If you suspect that your client has a less-than-healthy fixation with the scale number, I recommend explaining the reasons why putting the scale away for a while could help their fitness journey and encourage them to refocus their progress tracking through other methods.

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Maureen Faherty

Maureen Faherty

Moe oversees corporate wellness and fitness initiatives as a Wellness Specialist for a financial services company and all their U.S. locations.She is also a Personal Trainer at Harvard Business School and the creator of Fitness MoeJo, a blog in which she shares advice, personal experiences and inspiration on maintaining a healthy, fit lifestyle.

She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Framingham State University and a M.S. in Physical Education/ Strength & Conditioning from Bridgewater State University. She is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and with USA Weightlifting as a Sports Performance Coach.

Moe lives in Boston where she keeps busy crossing things off her fitness bucket list.
Maureen Faherty


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