Staying At That “Number” – Why The Scale Is Not The Most Important Measure For Progress

I think almost on a weekly basis, I find myself coaching clients on the importance of realizing that there is more to measuring progress than relying on what a randomly generated number on the scale says.  The truth is that when it comes to body transformation goals (whether you are trying to lose fat or gain muscle) the scale can often send someone on an anxiety filled path if there is too much of an emotional attachment to what the reading is.

I can remember a time when even I was a slave to what that number read.  For a period of time in my early twenties, I thought that it was very important for me to stay below 128 lbs (at 5’6.5 with muscle).  In fact, I could remember a time a few years later when a friend of mine had said to me (when I started competing back in 2010) that it would be great if I could train, and eventually get my weight to around 150 lbs in my off season.  I remember being absolutely horrified when I first heard him say that, and I even vowed that I would NEVER allow myself to get “that heavy”.  I had an immense FEAR of a NUMBER.  Mind you, “Miss 128 Pounds Or Bust” had never even seen her weight past 135 lbs!  So you can imagine how empowered I felt recently when I stepped on the scale in my off season at 160 lbs (as an IFBB Women’s Physique Pro) and saw the contradictory reflection staring back in the mirror…

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What I can say for sure is that at the age of 34 (at the time of this writing), and at 160.8 pounds, I FEEL I LOOK THE BEST I EVER HAVE IN MY WHOLE LIFE.  And everyday that I’m in the gym I feel stronger and more empowered.

It’s easy as women, I feel, to get get caught up in the rat race of trying to beat the scale.  At some point in our lives, we lose the innocence of simply enjoying who we are regardless to what the scale says, and we begin to obsess and quantify our worth based on a machine.  What we fail to realize is that when you LET GO of that burden, only then are you truly able to FLY and finally see to your physical goals.

And to take things even further, I think it’s DUALLY important for the female physique competitor (no matter what your division) to keep this type of perspective in mind.  When you spend weeks, and even months, dieting for a show, your perception of what is your physical reality becomes blurred.  Week after week, your focus is on getting as lean as you possibly can in order to step on the stage.  What we often forget is that this level of leanness that we achieve through prolonged dieting and training is all for a FLEETING moment on stage.  One in fact that is nearly impossible (and often unhealthy) to maintain for the long run.  So to see the scale number creeping up way past what your stage weight turned out to be is a very scary thing for many.  I, for instance, stood onstage in a recent show at around 137 pounds.  A few weeks later (after coming off of my strict dieting, embracing more overall calories, and some dietary freedom along the lines of an IIFYM approach), I feel my body has filled out in ways that I wish I could bring to the stage when it comes time to display my physique once again!

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I think it’s so important for ALL women (no matter what your goal) to learn how to see the scale as a simple TOOL in the toolbox.  It’s just another measure of progress, and one by the way that isn’t the most reliable source for measuring change over the long term.  I can assure you that once you’re able to get over your fear of seeing a number higher than what you may expect, that you’ll finally be able to truly see what new levels and limits you body can achieve over time.


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