Fit in 5: Five Ways To Measure Fat Loss Without the Scale

Pamela Hernandez owns Thrive Personal Fitness in Springfield, MO where she focuses on weight training for weight loss. She writes a blog for her web site,, sharing vegetarian recipes from her kitchen, exercise strategies, lifestyle tips and stories from her own journey. You can also follow Pamela on Twitter @ThriveFit or pick up more tips on Facebook,

I am currently one of the sponsors of a local weight loss contest. The second round of weigh ins occurred in March and, as they started to roll in, I noticed a distinct change in the tone from that of the prior weigh in.

Instead of jubilance over pounds lost, there was a lot of distress and worry about the number on the scale. Some were feeling that they had gone off track. Others bemoaned the number on the scale because it hadn’t budged or they had dropped “just” a pound or two.

My response? The scale doesn’t define you or your success on a fitness journey.

That seems to be the hardest thing for people (especially women) to learn when starting to get healthy and fit. It doesn’t seem to matter how good you may feel, how many push ups you can do or how far you can run; if the scale doesn’t move, or if it doesn’t move enough, then it doesn’t mean anything.

I secretly hate the scale. I use it with my own clients because it’s a quick and easy measurement. But it’s not the only measurement we take and we don’t take it often. There are other (dare I say better?) measures of success when it comes to fitness and fat loss.

Circumference measurements: Pull out the tape measure and measure your waist, hips, thighs and any other body part that makes sense. As your body changes shape, you will be able to see it better here than a number on the scale.

Your bra: Sad but true, ladies, we can’t choose where the fat comes from. Sometimes the first new purchase my clients have to make is a smaller bra.

Temperature jeans: Select a pair of jeans (or pants) that are the size and shape you wish to be. Perhaps they are a pair from college or from before you had kids. Try them on every couple of weeks and use them to gauge your progress. Does the scale really matter when you can fit into your favorite pair of Long and Lean jeans?

Take a picture: The image we are used to seeing can get burned into our brain. As our bodies start to change, we don’t see it as we look in the mirror every morning. Taking a picture allows us to step outside of ourselves for a moment and really see the transformation that is taking place.

The opinion of others: This may be the only time I tell you to care about what other people think. If someone you see often tells you that your face looks thinner or your waist looks tinier, that’s a very good thing. Like a picture, others see the change in you long before you do.

We may start this journey focused on a number on a scale. But our true progress should be based on how strong we feel and how healthy we become.

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