Emmet Rushe, owner of Rushe Fitness gym, explains why the scales don’t tell the full story on your progress.

This is a follow on from last week’s blog on scale weight. 

I’ve had loads of messages from females saying that they were glad to see the article, but they still are overly reliant on the scales. 

Here’s why the scales don’t tell the full story on your progress and why you need to use other tools for assessing progress. 

If there is one thing that I have learned from training hundreds of people over the last few years, it is this:

No movement on the scale does not mean that there have not been changes.

I have the weight and measurements of every client and every member of our Rushe Fitness gym in Letterkenny from the past 6 years and one thing always stands out from the weigh-ins.

The scale weight of the clients didn’t always match the inches or progress made by them.

That is not to say that they didn’t lose any weight on the scale, but it didn’t always match into the number of inches lost from their waists, hips or thighs, or the changes in their body shape.

For those where the scale didn’t move, at times they still had huge changes in measurements or clothing sizes. 

But for most clients, especially the female ones, the scale will always be the ultimate decider of whether their plan was successful or not.

I have had clients lose 4 inches from their waist and drop a dress size over a 6 week period, but because the scale weight ‘only’ dropped 2kg (4.4lbs), they deemed this as a failure.

When asked if their clothes fitted better and if they were happy with the changes in their bodies, the answer is always ‘yes’, but this is always followed with a ‘but’ and this ‘but’ is usually always in reference to the scale weight.

You are not to blame, however. 

We have been hardwired, through the media, magazines and now with weight loss reps on social media, to think that the scales and how much you weigh, are the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss, and anything except rapid drops in scale weight is seen as a complete failure. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth.


You have to first understand the different variations in ‘weight’:

For most, the ultimate goal is ‘weight loss’. 

But that shouldn’t be the goal, the goal isn’t ‘weight loss’, it is ‘fat loss’.

This is where we start to change how we look at things when it comes to progress.

‘Weight’ as in scale weight, can be made up of several things;

  • How hydrated you are 
  • If you ate a large carb-based meal your carb stores will be full, so you will ‘weigh’ more 
  • Fluid retention around the time of your cycle will cause scale weight to go up
  • Alcohol will cause scale weight to go up 
  • Eating salty foods will cause fluid retention and cause scale weight to go up

All of these things can all have an effect on scale ‘weight’.

But, this doesn’t mean that you are gaining fat and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t making progress in your program. 

It simply means you are weighing heavier on the scale. 

There are a few things that go into the ‘weight’ fluctuations that you may see on the scales.

  1. Carb stores

This amount of Carbs (glycogen) stored in your muscles depends on how much carbohydrates are currently in your diet.

This will cause extra scale weight, but this ‘weight’ is not fat and that is an important distinction. 

2. Water retention

If you have a diet that is heavy on processed foods, and you are also adding salt to your meals, there is a good chance you may be retaining fluid.

If you aren’t drinking enough water and are slightly dehydrated you could be retaining fluid.

Sorting these can help with fluid retention.

3. Menstrual Cycle bloat

Women will retain water during their menstrual cycle.

If I am doing a check in with a client and there is a sudden fluctuation in their weight and measurements, I will always ask if they are around the time of their monthly cycle.

If the answer is yes, that is usually the reason for the scale and measurement fluctuation and we can try again when it has passed.

This is a natural process and the fluid you are retaining is not fat.

Should you weigh yourself at all then, or should you just go by how you look in the mirror and how your clothes fit and feel.

The best answer is this:

When you weigh yourself, does what the scales say determine your mood, how you will eat and how you view yourself for the rest of that day?

If the answer is yes, then you SHOULD NOT weigh yourself and you SHOULD only use one of the other methods below. 

  • Measurements
  • How your clothes fit
  • Photos
  • How your fitness and strength are progressing
  • How your self esteem and confidence is progressing. 

All the above are better indicators of progress and are so much better than how much you weigh. 

Scale weight shouldn’t be exclusively used as the be all and end all of your goals.

I’d rather my clients feel better in their own skin, rather than worry about what an arbitrary number on the scale tells them.
You should too.

Our gym may be closed, but we are keeping all our Letterkenny gym members motivated and moving from home. 

Until we reopen and can welcome you all back, or if you don’t live or work in or around Letterkenny, you can sign up to join us online in our Opti-Mum now. 

The program has been helping women of all ages and busy Mums to stay in shape and keep fit and healthy from home all through 2020.
We are starting today, and you can sign up now through the link below.