By Lauren Denos: 10/28/2014 (Fitness)

Seriously – throw away your damn scale!

For so many, the scale has become an unhealthy obssesion. People are weighting themselves every day. This obsession can hinder your progress.

Is using the scale always bad?

No. In fact, your traininer or doctor will probably weigh you every so often, but they are using other measurements as well. When used in combination with other measurements, they are able to get the bigger picture about what is going on with your body. You need to remember that the scale can fluctuate when you are leaning down. Muscle does weight more than fat, so you could lose inches and gain weight on the scale if you are working out.

The scale itself is not bad. Rather, it’s just all too often the only measuring tool people use, which stresses them out because of the number they see. The stress part of this equation is what the real killer is. Stress can, actually, can cause a cortisol effect as well as stress eating problems. Also, looking at your scale every day, and freaking out because you went up 1 pound, is not helping your health. You weight can fluctuate even just from water weight.

Generally speaking, whatever measuring method you choose to use, you do not need to measure yourself more than once a week. Really, once a month is probably enough.

Better Ways to Measure Your Progress:

 

#1 How do your pants fit.

This is one way that some people keep tabs on how their body is responding to their eating and workout habits. It’s very mellow and low-stress. Keep in mind that it is not a really accurate measurement, though, because pants can shrink. Yet, much of the time, it at least is a rough guideline.

#2 Measuring tape.

This is simply measuring the different areas of the body: upper arms, legs, waist, hips etc. Not only does this way help you better understand what’s going on, but it can also let you know whether you are losing inches. It is a much better method than the scale! The one thing it will not tell you, though, is your current amount of muscle and fat mass.

If you really want to get a measurement that will tell you where you are at, and give you good information to progress on, then do body fat testing. There are a few methods for this:

#3 DEXA

(Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) is just what it sounds like. It is using x-ray technology to test your body mass. This method is usually used to test bone density for osteoporosis, but it is also used to calculate the amount of body fat and lean mass. The good thing with this test is it can tell you the percentage of each body part as well. Because this testing needs to be done in a laboratory setting, it will unfortunately cost you. Just a head’s up about that.

#4 Hydrostatic weighing

Also known as water dunking, is another body fat and muscle mass test. This is known as a very accurate measurement; but, many people do not want to spend the money or time to get this done.

#5 Air-Displacement Plethysmography

This is similar to water dunking; but, instead of using water displacement to figure out your body mass, they use air. Like above, you will not find this testing everywhere, and it is more costly and time-consuming than the calipers and bio impedance machine.

#6 Caliper testing

This can be done by a trainer at your gym and does not require a lot of high-tech equipment. The down side to calipers is that they need to pinch your skin to get the reading, and that can be uncomfortable. Another potential issue is that if people are very overweight, it may not work. With the calipers, you want to make sure you go with the 10-site skin fold test, which can be helpful because everyone carries weight in different areas.

#7 A bio impedance machine

This machine calculates your body fat through electrical feedback. The pros to this is that it is easy, comfortable, and it does not matter how big you are. The downside is that it can be less accurate. You can get this done by a trainer or you can buy one yourself. The machine itself has a range in cost, but you can usually find them for under $100.

There are many options, choose your favorite.

There are a lot of options for measuring your body fat, but the scale is not going to be the most accurate. Look at your options and start to use the one that will be better to know where you are at. Also, the one that will, hopefully, make you less obsessed.





 

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-Lauren