After embarking on a diet or fitness regime, nothing feels more of a success than seeing the number on the scales drop. But when that figure won’t budge or, worse, goes up, it can feel hopeless. As it turns out, however, not only can weighing ourselves be demoralising, it may be misleading.
More than a number
If jumping on the scales has become a habit, you’re not alone. Many people get fixated by the number on theirs, when what they need to do is change their body shape and health, advises dietitian Marcela Fiuza, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA). Exercising regularly and eating more healthily will help you visibly lose fat and gain muscle, but this might not always translate to the scales. ‘Since muscle weighs more than fat, your number on the scales might not change as much as you expect. If that is the only way you are measuring your progress, it can be misleading,’ says Marcela. Your weight can also fluctuate as a result of hormonal changes and water retention. ‘Depending where you are in your cycle, it can add or take 2kg, which is not representative of your fat mass,’ she says.
Getting the most from smart monitors
Stick to the same machine and take a measurement every four or eight weeks. ‘Keep the variables the same; same day, same time and, ideally, the same point in your menstrual cycle. Avoid using straight after exercising, which can affect accuracy,’ says Alastair Crew, head trainer at David Lloyd. Also use with caution. ‘If you’re prone to worrying about weight, a smart scale gives more numbers to obsess over and could potentially make the problem worse,’ warns Dr Joanna Silver, a therapist at Nightingale Hospital London.
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