Important Factors Your Scale Doesn’t Display

You’ve been eating well and exercising all week long, so when you wake up in the morning; it’s natural that you’ll hop on the old scale to see your effort melting off the pounds. However, if the total staring back at you is not what you expected, it can thwart your healthy attempts in their tracks.  That’s why it’s important to know that the scale only displays weight loss and not total fitness progress (i.e., muscle gain, inches lost). I know it’s difficult not to get stuck on numbers alone, but remember, your scale is not telling you the whole truth when it comes to your health.

Here are eight important factors your scale does not display…

Total Muscle Mass

If you’ve read up on how to lose weight while remaining healthy, you must have read somewhere that muscle mass weighs more than body fat mass. It’s true, many individuals who add muscle mass early on frustrated when they see the number increase after decreasing for weeks on the scale.

However, keep in mind that if you’ve been working out via resistance training, those extra couple pounds are likely muscle gains—and muscle increases the rate at which you burn calories (by increasing your metabolism).

Inches Lost

Despite the number glaring up at you on the scale, the number on a measuring tape tells a much deeper truth. Despite body weight, which is made up of water, fat mass, and muscle mass and that number is a percentage of each.  So just because you’ve only lost 1 pound this past week, if you’re waist has shrunk by 2-inches, you are making fantastic wins. So invest in a soft measuring tape and take starting numbers and revisit each couple of weeks so you don’t abandon your new, healthier lifestyle.

Comfort Fit

Same goes for the way your clothes fit your body. The number on the scale is one thing, but if your jeans are fitting better, or if you have to wear a belt to hold them up on your shrinking hips, you must keep in mind that the more muscle you replace with fat, the more compact (and toned) your body will become and that shoes in the way your clothing fits—not by the number on the scale alone.

Cardiovascular Improvements

So maybe after running for a few months, you stepped on the scale and noticed that you haven’t shed your usual 1.5 pounds. Don’t sweat it; the scale will not display cardiovascular wins—meaning how fast you can run, improvements to your V02 max (or maximal oxygen consumption), which explains improvements to your aerobic physical fitness level.

Strength Gains

Like cardio improvements, making resistance training a part of your regular activities will improve your endurance, as well as the strength of your muscles, joints, and bones.  That means, just because the number on your scale says one thing, it doesn’t reflect how much weight you can squat or how much more impressive your flexed biceps are at the beach!

Energy Benefits

If you’re starting to see a trend here when it comes to the number on the scale and the vast majority of information it’s leaving out then I’ve done my job. Akin to strength gains and aerobic gains, the scale will not reflect your newfound energy from regular exercise and eating right.

However, if you do make physical activity (i.e., walking, running, cycling, swimming, tennis, etc.) and eating right (i.e., cutting processed foods, refined sugars and carbohydrates, and Trans fats) you will soon be thankful for the newfound energy. Even something as simple as walking up the stairs or running after the kids will become much easier.

Healthy Lifestyle Lessons

If you’re not simply trying to shed a few pounds for a school reunion, but actually trying to improve your overall health for life, the invaluable lessons you will learn by losing weight gradually through regular exercise and eating nutritious meals will be lessons you’ll take with you throughout your lifetime.

The scale doesn’t reflect the important things you’ve learned—better eating habits, portion control, burning calories and building muscle via exercise, and how maintain a healthy weight and live a lifestyle built on common sense health. Lessons you will pass along to those you love.

Invaluable Healthy Eating Habits

The changes you make when you start eating well and exercising regularly have a domino effect inside of your body as well as on the outside. The scale might show you the basics of pure weight loss numbers on the outside. However, a body that benefits from regular exercise and wholesome foods will reap the benefits of a sturdy immune system, bones and muscles that can better withstand trauma and injuries, improved digestion, blood circulation, oxygen, and so much more.


Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.