Putting the Scale in its Place


I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love seeing people’s pictures, hearing about what’s going on in their lives, connecting with old and new friends—and of course, all the dog pictures! I could easily lose an hour just scrolling through news feeds and different accounts smiling and laughing away the time.

But, then there are those days I get caught up in the accounts or posts that bring me down.


Look how well this one is doing in their career, look what new car they just got—or look at what their scale says. Boom! Bad mood ahead! Why, why, why did I read that??


Even with all we know about health and exercise, most women still bring ourselves down to just a number: weight on the scale and/or pants size. Our day can be ruined by three little numbers on the scale, or jeans that are a little tight. Suddenly, work isn’t satisfying, food is punishment and not nutrition, and an evening out is a chore instead of a joy.


Three freaking numbers! This has got to stop.


Let’s Toss ‘Em!


Let’s face it, the only time we really need the scale is at the doctor’s office. No matter how good you look, how fit you are, or what your blood work says, the doc is putting you on that evil little device. Fine, I can deal with that. But maybe I don’t need to do it on my own time…


The scale tells me the force of gravity pulling my body to the Earth. It won’t tell me if I’m a good person, if I’m successful in my career, how I learn or what I enjoy.


It can’t tell me if I’m improving my health and fitness. It will only tell me one number. So, I’m thinking we should toss those bad boys out with the trash!


What To Do Instead


So, you have a little excess body fat that you want to get rid of. Most of us do. The scale doesn’t actually tell us if we lost fat, water weight, muscle or even bone mass. And yet, we’ve used it as a tool to measure our progress—or flail ourselves in despair. Instead of the scale, you can use a measuring tape. You can pick one up at Target or Walmart, or order it through the ever-popular Amazon.


Taking your measurements will show you if you are actually changing your body size. It will be a better guide to fitting into your favorite old jeans, or wearing that little black dress you bought.


However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t take measurements every week.


It takes time for your body to change, so I wouldn’t advise doing your measurements more than once a month. Choose the first or last day of the month. You can chart your progress and set goals to work on every 30 or 31 days. It will also give you an idea of what is working—or not working—in regards to your nutrition and fitness.


You can take as many or as few measurements as you like. Here are the ones I normally take for myself, and for clients.

Bust – measure around the largest part of your chest, or approximately the nipple line.
Chest – measure right under your breasts, where your bra would sit.
Waist – measure at the narrowest part of your waistline.
Hips – looking from the side, measure around your hips at the level where your butt sticks out the furthest. Keep your feet together.
Thigh – measure at the largest part of your upper leg.
Arms – measure around the largest part of your upper arm.
Calf – measure around the largest part of your lower leg.


Keep your measurements in a notebook, or even in a note app on your phone. I like using a notebook or Excel spreadsheet so that I can look and compare my progress. I also usually note what pants size and top size I’m wearing to see those changes.


If you still want to use the scale, only do it once a month and keep it in perspective. Maybe you only lost five pounds, but you dropped a pants size. I’d be pretty happy about that if I were you!


Keeping It Real


I want you to truly understand how that number a scale spits out can be deceiving. I trained for a fitness competition in 2006. After it was over, I weighed approximately 155 pounds at 5’6” tall. I was wearing a size 6/8. I felt really good about how I looked.


A few years later, after battling chronic pain, a few surgeries and severe digestive issues I weighed about 160 pounds. I was still feeling pretty good. You know what size I was?? A 12. Five pound difference, and about 2-3 sizes.


This is the difference between fat loss and muscle gain and just weight loss. And it can illustrate how insignificant those numbers are. So, be happy and focus on your health. It’s a 360° journey, so take it one step at a time!



Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.