We all know about the number on the scale. Some of us have been watching it for years (and years and years and years…darn tootin’!) This, however, is perhaps the most fickle of the measurement family. It is the one we have been told we need to take notice of for so long, and yet it is the worst measurement of health and fitness in a human being.
The scale only measures a small part of our bodily health- our weight- and unless it is combined with a complete medical understanding of our personal musculo-skeletal structure it will never be the most helpful tool to use by itself.
That scale can’t tell us how our physical fitness, mental health, and lifestyle have improved, or how our other health conditions have disappeared. All it does is sit on the floor and tell us that we haven’t done a good enough job at something that all the other areas of our life are telling us we are succeeding brilliantly at.
We have been conditioned to believe that one piece of feedback from the scale is more important than 100 pieces of combined feedback from our family, friends, clothes, mirrors, health professionals, sometimes random strangers off the street (people been checking you out!). Why do we keep doing it?
There are far better indicators of success. Things which give us much more encouraging evidence of the amazing job we are doing at pursuing health and improving fitness.
The following tools and records are all things which can chart different measurements which are very helpful both in the short term and in the long run over our journey into a Ketogenic Lifestyle. They are useful in all situations, whether you are pursuing the reversal of a health condition, or for athletic or functional performance.
These tools are body measurements, medical records, photographs and functional fitness measurements, all of which can be very important, depending on why you have chosen- or are currently researching, Keto.
- Body Measurements
- Journaling Medical Symptoms
- Functional Fitness Measurements
Using a tape measure to record the loss of centimetres (inches) around your waist- I went overboard with this one, and also measured: my neck, bust, under bust, both upper arms, wrists, hips, both thighs, calves, and ankles… anyone want to say “overachiever”…? But seriously, boots! You can also use your clothes as an indicator. Having saggy, baggy elephant pants is kinda fun when you realise you’ve baconed your way out of a larger size into a smaller size! You also might find that you go down a shoe size! If you’re lifting your way into muscles, then measure those too! Guns!
It is a better goal to have a size clothing to aim for than a scale number. Buy a goal size article of clothing and use that for your daily motivation. Your ideal Jessica Rabbit dress, perfect size jeans and shirt, a work uniform in the size you want to get to, an outfit for your favourite leisure activity, or that suit you wore to your Formal (Prom)?
If you have a recorded medical condition, you will be familiar with being asked to note your symptoms in a journal or chart over a period of time so that your medical practitioner can increase their accuracy in diagnosis.
This also is a helpful way of charting our healing progress! Being able to have a record of the reduction of symptoms is amazing. A simple journal, with dates and times when you noticed something new, or when something has disappeared is a valuable tool, not just for your own encouragement, but also if you are visiting your medical professional. Accurate notes are evidence!
Photographs are an incredibly useful tool. It’s immediate and gives a record over time with an impact that written figures cannot always convey. I know that photographs may have been a contentious topic for people in the past, but if you are chasing weight loss as part of transitioning into a Ketogenic Lifestyle, you will want those first photos, no matter how much you may hate the idea of them right now. Think about all the progress photos you have seen. Yours may inspire someone else, however if you prefer to keep them private, one day, you’ll be looking back on where you have been and realise that you are an inspiration to yourself, and you are worth every second of that first photograph.
Even if you are not chasing weight loss, let me encourage you to take those first photos. You may have changes in your body that you never thought were possible. Changes in the health of your skin, your hair, your body fat percentage, your posture, who knows! If you have an auto-immune condition, there may be subtle changes that you don’t notice in your clothes that you do notice in a photograph.
Functional fitness covers all those things that we need to do every day to live our life in its fullest capacity. Whether it’s as simple as tying our shoelaces- which isn’t always simple- to lifting heavy things like rounds of wood for the wood pile, or playing with the kids, or moving tyres for the car, or tractor, or shoving large animals around (dairy farmers’ daughter!), we can move a lot in our normal day.
Consider taking notes about things that you can’t do now, things that you would love to do, and things that you can do now that improve and get easier over time. It’s amazing to be able to have these Non-Scale Victories (NSVs) and celebrate them. To be able to chart progress and remind ourselves where we’ve come from and where we want to get to.
This also goes for you athletes out there. You are already timing and recording and working towards your personal bests. Keto is a proven athletic performance enhancer. Check out The Ketogenic Athlete for more science (love science).
All of these different types of documentation add up to a significant amount of evidence. It is useful not only for us as individuals, keeping us sane on those days when that lying, cheating scale says rude words, but also on those occasions when we have ‘ah-ha’ moments. Being able to share proud moments with friends, family and Keto-family not only helps to build us up, it helps to encourage other people too. It also helps us spread the word as our Ketogenic Lifestyle becomes a ground-swell movement. The more testimonial evidence we can provide, the better support we can give to doctors and researchers who are working and advocating within the scientific communities to reverse the adverse effects of the Standard Western Diet.
If you do use a scale, it’s a really good idea to use at least two of these other types of measurement tools as your primary progress charts. They will give you a better indication of where you are really at with your overall body health and fitness. Then, when you see the numbers go down on the scale, they make it so much sweeter, and on those occasions you see the numbers flat-line or if you’ve gained muscle and they go up, it doesn’t impact your mental health, because you know better than to trust the scale as the only indicator of fat loss.
Your experience cannot be refuted. Your pictures, measurements, and documented health improvements cannot be dismissed as a lie. They are your experience, your testimony. Collectively they are our experience, our testimony. You are part of a movement that is correcting a serious wrong in the world of health.