Measure Weight Loss without the Scale

Weight loss Wednesday is back in action today because of a tweet I received this morning…


Ugh. I’ve been there. You wake up feeling great, step on the scale and in seconds your day has turned from fantastic to FAIL.

This is actually part of the reason I stopped weighing myself for a long time. I didn’t need that weighing on me all day (ha, weighing on me). I finally weighed myself recently and was content with the number – I’m not at goal yet but I was checking progress.

But I realize the scale is just one way to tell if I am losing weight and gaining fitness.

How much you weigh is only one way to tell if you are getting healthier and losing fat. There are plenty of other ways to keep track of diet success…

6 Ways to Measure Weight Loss Progress without the Scale

1. Measurements. This is one of the best ways to tell if you are losing weight and you don’t have to deal with water weight fluctuations like you do with a scale. Added bonus: It’s nice to see your thighs or waist go down as a direct result of lots of crunches or lunges or your fave exercises!

2. Clothes. Pick a pair of non-stretchy jeans and use that as a tool to tell you if you are shrinking.

(But Monica, just throw out those jeans from that time you had mono in college, you’re not going to fit in them again…) #Kidding

3. Body Fat. Get your body fat tested at the gym (or doctor’s office). Most gyms do this for free!

body fat monitorbody fat percentage for healthy weight

4. The mirror or other people. If you look in the mirror and feel like you’re looking good – own it! Or if someone gives you a compliment – remember it! We’re too quick to remember the bad photos or comments and forget the good ones.

fit girls look good naked

5. How you feel! Do you feel good? Is your energy level up? Check in with yourself on how you feel and use that as a measure of progress.

Instead of recording your weight on the calendar use smiley faces or a scale of 1-10 to gauge if your eating and exercise are making you feel good.

This tip is kinda cheesy, but I’ve worked with dietitians who have used this happy / neutral / sad face method as a way to record if you are eating too little or too much.

happy face stickers (450x800)

6. Fitness progress – Pay attention to your improvements in your exercise routine. Are you able to make it through a Zumba class easier? Is your usual walk around the block getting easier and faster? Can you switch to heavier weights for your workouts?

I’d rather cut minutes off my marathon time then numbers off my weight – that has been my focus lately. And the reality is I have lost A LOT more time off my running pace than pounds on the scale. But if I just worried about the scale I would feel like a failure right now instead of proud of my accomplishments!

run 13 miles

Question: How do you feel today?


  1. Olia says

    Hi Monica, when are you going to fill us in on how you’re reaching your goal?? what is it thats working so well for you? i just really want to know and see maybe i have other options if they worked so great for you!

  2. Rebecca says

    I’m super, thanks for asking! ;P I actually like that sad/neutral/happy face idea. I ate (and drank) horribly over the holiday weekend and definitely paid for it with an abysmal work-out with my trainer yesterday so think the faces would serve as a good reminder to not do that again.

  3. says

    I got my body fast tested in a pod a few months ago and it was a really cool experience. I am also a big fan of working on fitness goals rather than dropping pounds!

  4. says

    Monica, It’s a good time to set some baselines. I think body fat analysis is a great test so you know your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Then you have some real numbers to work with. I like to say, “Weight loss and weight management is math.” But you have to know your numbers. Click on the YouTube link below to check out my video on “Setting Baselines – Body Fat Analysis”:

  5. says

    Love this! I said bye bye to the scale a few weeks ago in favor of measuring my fitness progress in the ways you mention. Because honestly, very few people can look at me and tell what I weigh. But they can look at me and know if I look good. That’s really all that matters. Oh, and I feel better and stronger now than I did six months ago (when I was five pounds lighter).

  6. Emily says

    THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I have had a horrendous morning, been so down on myself, but my most recent long run (4 days ago) was a new longest distance for me, and at a faster pace than many shorter runs had been. Need to refocus!

  7. says

    There are SO SO many better options to checking in with how you’re doing than the scale. AMEN!

    I think a focus on getting fitter/stronger is what helped me turn away from the scale in my past–and in turn helped me be my fittest ever & strongest ever. I am now pregnant though, so my attention is elsewhere -but I am still staying as strong & fit as I can. I would echo those sentiments that the scale is NOT the best measurer!

  8. says

    I love these posts! There is so much more to health and improvement than the number on the scale. I’m on a weight loss journey, but am thinking of giving myself healthy behavior rewards! So much more fun than # rewards!

  9. Kathy says

    that is so true! I recently started working out again for the first time in a couple years and I sort of gave up on the scale last week. I felt more in shape than I had in a LONG time, and I go to weigh myself and I had gained four pounds! Luckily I had measured everything before I started working out again, and I had lost almost two inches on my hips and waist and a little on everything else, too. Eventually the scale will catch up with me and I will get to my old “in shape” weight but for now I will ignore it and focus on the other signs of progress that are just as meaningful.

  10. says

    So, I’m kind of totally in love with the whole smiley-face idea! I love visual methods of tracking like that, especially something that’s so simple/cute at the same time :) I’ve been breaking up with the scale slowly, so I really love these tips!

  11. says

    Once upon a time, I weighed myself everyday and it helped me lose about 45 pounds. Now… I haven’t in awhile. I realized this spring after 1 year of running that I was more excited about running faster than I was about losing weight.

    Oh, and the nastiness of the Wii Fit only compounds the weighing problem.

  12. says

    This is super true because I’ve been feeling like I’ve lost a decent amount of weight and my jeans are all fitting quite nicely but I weighed myself and I’m 2 lbs heavier than the heaviest Ive been in a while, I’ll just take it to mean that I’m gaining some sweet muscles?

  13. Ashley says

    I can honestly say after breaking up with the scale I have never felt more free. I go by how I feel in my clothes and the gains I am making in my run times and endurance. I let the scale define me for way too long which led to behavior that had major health consequences. Since recovery, I refuse to go there again. So if it takes a breakup with a scale, I’ll take it!

  14. Liz I says

    What a great post! I love the last two: am I feeling good? Reaching fitness goals? If yes, then forget the scale.

  15. Gillian says

    Totally with you in that I’d rather slash minutes off my marathon time and eventually BQ than pounds off the scale! I am feeling pretty good and looking forward to RnR SD this weekend. It’s the first time for me to run more than 1 marathon in a year. After LA I have kept up >30mpw so we’ll see what happens. Definitely need advice on running multiple marathons in a year (weekly mileage recs, longest run 18? 20?, speed work?)

  16. says

    Love this!! I am in scale rehab and doing well. I am only trying to weigh myself once a month right now until I ween myself off pretty much completely. I rather measure and use some jeans to keep me on track and not ruin my day!

  17. says

    I also used to get super sad about the number on the scale. Now I look at what my body can DO instead of what it looks likes (or how heavy it is). Running races and being able to beat my old times or do different workouts and get stronger is what makes me happy in my own skin.

  18. says

    I decided today to stop weighing myself so much and focus on how I feel. I’m not at my goal yet, but I’m very proud of my 95# loss so far. I feel great!

  19. says

    Such a great piece. I was one of those people who for YEARS religiously weighed every morning and all it did was rule my mood for the day.

    No more. I hardly ever weigh… I really try to focus on how am I feeling and am I meeting fitness milestones. Oh… and do my jeans fit :)

  20. says

    I’m one that just uses my clothes as a guide. I can always tell when I need to make a few cuts in my junk food habit!! The best thing is when you switch clothes for the seasons and the old stuff from 6 months ago fits better than it did last season!!! (I had that the other day with shorts – happiness)

  21. Tara says

    So true! I was all about weights, and daily workouts with them. Then I signed up for a half, and started training, and with this cold, long winter, I didnt do much weights.
    My scale says I weigh the same, but my body definitely lost muscle and gained flab. My pants are tighter, I am starting to get ‘rolls’ I never had. Back to the weights I go. And in 3 weeks, I already feel better, clothes are fitting different, but, scales says the same.
    So not about the Scale!

  22. Ash says

    I 100% agree these are MUCH better alternatives to weighing yourself, but I also want to caution against using some of those ‘Fitspiration’ cards. Any time you call out a body type for looking one kind of way, it’s a form of body shaming. Skinny, fit, big, small, tall, short – whatever! – every body can look good naked. It comes from a place of self respect and love and requires internal reflection.

    • says

      I agree and normally stay away from stuff like that, but I thought the naked part was fun 😉

      Thanks for pointing it out in a respectful way, I appreciate it.

  23. AmyMacHac says

    “I’d rather cut minutes off my marathon time then numbers off my weight….”
    LUV! LUV! LUV! Thanks for the reminder :)
    btw…your marathon times are going from great to REDIC! great job!

  24. says

    Being a trainer I am always telling my clients (especially women) to not be obsessed with the scale. I measure their body fat % and tell them to be concious of how their clothes feel. Yes, we all want that number to go down but we cannot be obsessed about it. Especially if you are working out with weights (muscle weighs more than fat): for a while, your weight could stay the same or even go up because you are gaining muscle on top of fat. As soon as that fat goes, the weight will start to go down.

  25. says

    Very nicely said – love it! The scale can be so deceiving. Your body naturally fluctuates in water weight, depending on how full your glycogen stores are. So you can easily fluctuate 3-7 lbs.

    I used to always weigh myself, and the scale would always play mind games with me, when in fact I hadn’t gained any fat. Now I simply avoid it. Like you said, use the mirror.

    All of use have different bone structures too. So even if we’re both 5’7″, we would look our best at different weights. Therefore, the mirror is your best friend :)

  26. says

    Love all the suggestions!
    Today I feel not that great because the nurse at the doctors office had to yell out my weight across the office. Obviously, if I am on the scale then my eyes are closed for a reason…

  27. says

    it’s good to have other options (other than the scale) to gauge your progress. the scale just upsets me – i don’t even go on it anymore. if you feel great, go with that…there’s so much that a number won’t tell you =)

  28. says

    great post!! I definitely spent years letting the scale tell me how to feel and man life is a whole lot richer once that is gone! Running definitely helped me because it gave me a reason to look at my body with amazement.

  29. says

    Hahahahaha the happy face took me a minute. I was like okay, too little would be sad, just right neutral and too much happy! This is why I need to lose 40 pounds :)

  30. Sarah says

    Hi Monica- i’m just wondering how you are controlling your hunger when you are running more. I’m currently in pursuit of lowering my half-marathon time and I know dropping a few lbs will help my time (I have about 20 extra lbs to lose) My issue is i am sooooo hungry all of the time, so i am eating back all my calories and staying at the same weight. Any tips??

  31. says

    Totally with you on this one Monica! so many other ways to gauge your strength and weight loss! I have increased my mile/min time by over a min in the past few months and although people have been telling me I’m looking thinner, I just found out that I gained some weight! Crazy how our bodies work!

  32. Anna says

    Wow this was awesome! Loved the smiley face idea, I think I am going to start implementing that in my daily routine! Thanks.

  33. says

    Great message!!!! This is soooo important! The # of the scale should not make/break you! I have not weighed myself in years, but I know that I weigh the same as I always have b/c my clothes fit the same as they have for years. I wish girls would break up with their scales—mostly the mid-20s and younger crowd.

  34. says

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post. I was always quite heavy growing up, topping off at 200lbs. by 18. When I first started running, I took it too far and worked my way down to a very unhealthy weight. I’ve recently started again a few months ago and can run faster and longer than ever before. BUT I still really struggle with the fact that I’m no longer as thin (i.e. my body developed). It’s difficult coming to terms with the fact that my pants size is bigger, but most people still think I weigh the same as I did when I was super tiny so I like to think that means that I’ve only put on muscle and bone density.

    I also know that I never would’ve been able to run a half mary back in the day. Being fit does NOT go hand-in-hand with being super skinny, right?

  35. says

    I love this! We place so much value on numbers from a scale. I wish we could measure our weight by how we feel each morning :)

  36. Sonia Campos says

    “But if I just worried about the scale I would feel like a failure right now instead of proud of my accomplishments!”

    I’m confused. Isn’t this a weight loss blog. Isn’t that your goal/accomplishment?

    • says

      Weight loss is just one of my goals and not really the most important one at this stage in my life. I do think it’s an accomplishment but it’s not my priority any more.

  37. Jill says

    I’ve got to say that taking monthly progress photos at the same time as my measurements has been WONDERFUL for having something better to gauge my progress than the scale. Some of my best months for fat loss (getting smaller, looking better) have been some of the slowest months in terms of weight loss as reflected by the scale.

    And I like that you mentioned body fat %. It’s something I’m working on currently by weight lifting and increased protein along with a moderate calorie deficit. I’m what’s referred to as someone with “normal weight obesity” – that is, my BMI is 24 and my body fat is 32%. It’s good to have goals that are a bit more fitness-focused than “lose X lbs”, you know? If all I strived for was to lose weight, I’d likely be thin but still struggle to pour milk out of a full 4L jug of milk because it’s too heavy for me. The added bonus of the strength training is that I just feel sexy when I know I’m getting stronger. Might be a psychological thing, but it works for me!

  38. says

    Much better ways to judge your health. I also would prefer to ‘cut minutes off my marathon time than numbers off my weight.’ I don’t measure myself enough and too often rely on the scale to judge progress.

  39. says

    Sadly I’ve always been obsessed with the number on the scale but I’ve been better about NOT stepping on it every day. Right now I’m above my “ceiling” (the highest number I want my weight to be) after the Memorial Weekend of Gluttony but I’m back to eating in more of a healthy fashion and back to running.

  40. says

    I think that you are looking amazing!! The scale is evil, even though I weigh myself nearly every ding dang day! I would say whatever you are doing is a #success :) you are looking super skinny and getting speedy. Win win!

  41. says

    I am a daily scale person BUT I also use how clothes fit too. We all have to find what works for us. For some, the scale sets them back but I have used it my whole adult life & have learned how it can be fickle BUT also how it can help as well.. :)

  42. Sara K says

    Loved this post! Since I started running a few years ago to lose baby weight I’ve seen a huge difference in my strength and the tone of my muscles. I have lost sizes in clothes too. I have been able to finally lose the last 10lbs of baby weight (she’s almost 4 so it’s not been easy!) I fell into the trap of “since I run I can eat more” and that kept me stuck in place for about a year. I have finally upped my weight training and make sure to eat a healthy diet with good fats. I like you don’t focus on the number on the scale and focus more on my endurance. I have knocked time off my pace and and doing my first half marathon this fall. I feel better and healthier and strong. I need to be strong to run and now I realize that!

  43. says

    One of the ways I can measure my weight loss without a scale is through the increase level of my energy. If I am not getting tired compare as before then I know I am losing some weight.

  44. says

    I need to have my wife read these tips! She is married to the scale, and her mood hinges on the results. Thanks for the great tips. There me be hope for her yet!

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