Can You Trust the Scales?
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Some time ago I wrote about doing weigh-ins. But occasionally I still get panicked emails from dieters despairing about the scales not budging despite following the Dukan diet rules to the letter.

I've been sharing this via email with a few of the readers already, but the image is so compelling that I thought it deserved its own article. Although the diet in question was Paleo the picture illustrates perfectly why relying just on your scales when measuring weight-loss progress can be an issue.

155 pounds - before and after
Source: EverydayPaleo.com

It's unhealthy to obsess over an arbitrary number, when what most of us really want is the health benefits of the lower body fat percentage and a more eye pleasing body composition.

The Official Dukan Advice

Some people might protest, saying that Dr. Dukan himself tells everyone to weigh themselves daily. There are a few caveats with that assumption though. First of all, a lot of the patients he initially created his method for were heavily over-weight. With a huge amount of fat to lose, the pounds quickly dropping off in the Attack phase are a great motivator. Even when admittedly some of them are water weight, it still means a big improvement - as just lessening the sheer weight on your joints, spine, etc. can mean a lot. But once you stop seeing a daily consistent trend downwards it's probably a good idea to weigh yourself less often.

The experience will not be the same for someone who just wants to shed a few pounds after Christmas, or before the summer holiday so they look good in that bikini... And if you're already reasonably active, especially with some strength training thrown in, you can easily turn fat into muscle - meaning you won't see much progress on the scale.

The Alternative Solution

A more accurate way to chart your progress is to introduce body measurements. For health reasons if you can it might be good to track your body fat percentage. And for the aesthetic goals, you know the type, when you aim for a certain jeans size, start tracking your inches in strategic places. It's a bit more time consuming than just popping on the scales for a second, but can be a lot more satisfying.

Now, this isn't something you can do daily - well, or at least it wouldn't make much sense to do so. The problem here is that your error margin would likely be very close or even bigger than the progress you can make in a single day. Just as at some point you would likely be better off weighing yourself in once a week, it might be best to take measurements once every week or two.

How to take body measurements

If you never measured yourself before, don't worry, it's really easy. All you need is a simple tape measure. Here is a great video with instructions and tips on how to measure your arms, chest, hips, etc.

A few tips:

Don't check too often - let's face it, you cannot lose 10 inches in two days.

Be precise - sloppy measurements tend to be inaccurate.

Measure the same thing - try to make sure you always measure at the same point, especially when it comes to arms and thighs.

Some areas can be tricky, so if you can't reach around your arm yourself, or generally have a problem taming the tape measure, don't be afraid to ask a family member or a friend to help you out with the measurements.

 

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