Assessing Progress- More than just the Number on the Scale

I’ll start this blog off with my personal experience. Throughout the year I go through phases where I am very lean and other phases where I hold more body fat on my body; it all depends on the phase of my training and how I am eating to reach my goals. Generally, as much as I like having sharp six-pack abs, I try to stay away from that because it’s detrimental to my performance and general happiness. Some people can pull off being lean year-round (as we see with some professional athletes) however they are far and few inbetween. I am familiar with my body type and I am aware that it is one that typically holds more fat  and builds muscle more easily (short people problems). I feel lousy when I am that lean; I am tired, groggy, my menstrual cycle isn’t as regular, and I am not fueling my body to meet its caloric needs. When I reach this point, I increase calories and try to balance my caloric intake more appropriately so that there are no negative effects in my training. The result? Weight gain.

As weeks and months go by, the number on the scale creeps up from 125 lbs to 138 lbs. It’s easy to get freaked out by the number, but after doing it for a while I’ve become less affected by the scale. Instead, I realize that other markers in my life are better because of this change. The positive changes I see are:

  • Better mood

  • Higher quality sleep

  • Improved performance

  • Increased energy

  • More sustainable lifestyle

  • More muscle mass

  • Less brain fog 

Is it worth it? Yes, because my goals are centered around performance. However, I understand a lot of people center their progress and stress around the scale’s number– that’s normal and very common. But there are so many other things to consider when you are assessing your progress. It all depends on your goals and what you are looking to get out of your nutritional approach. In this blog, I want to talk about progress metrics beyond the scale. 

Factors that Affect the Number of the Scale

There are a list of factors that impact the number on the scale. Weight loss or weight gain is rarely ever a linear path; instead it’s scattered and fluctuates frequently, which is why we emphasize having other metrics to assess progress. Things that affect the scale number are:

  • Sleep

  • Stress

  • How late you ate the day before

  • Water intake

  • Fiber intake

  • Salt intake

  • Workout routine (did you do a tough workout the day before you weighed yourself?)

Metrics Beyond the Scale

How else can you assess progress? It depends on your goal and desired outcome. If your main goal is to lose body fat for health reasons, the scale will be one of the best tools but it’s also good to supplement with other metrics as well, such as how your clothes are fitting. If your goal is performance, then performance metrics from your training will be great indicators.

  • Goal: Body Fat Loss

    • Scale weight

    • Body fat measurements (scans or caliper readings)

    • Progress pictures

    • Body Tape Measurements (thighs, hips, arms, etc)

    • How clothes are fitting

  • Goal: Performance (strength, sport-specific, etc)

    • Sport-specific metrics (speed, max lifts, etc)

    • Sleep quality

    • Energy/Fatigue levels

    • Recovery rate

    • Mood/Stress levels

    • Hunger levels

  • Goal: Overall Health

    • Body fat measurements (scans or caliper readings)

    • Energy/Fatigue levels

    • Mood/Stress levels

    • Hunger levels

    • Sleep quality


Nutrition is the foundation of every health goal. You can have an optimized training program and will not see consistent progress if your nutrition is not lined up correctly. Nutrition must be tailored specifically to your lifestyle and to your goal. That being said, this all requires patience and consistency. It is not to be rushed and progress may not come quickly, which can be extremely frustrating (trust me, I get it!). My recommendation? The scale is a tool that should be used wisely, but you should also focus on other health markers too. There is more than just the scale and if you focus on it too much, you may never find the wins/progress you have been making.