Tell us about your experiences with weight management. Take our survey!

Person with short voluminous hair throws scale over shoulder into trash

How to Measure Progress Without the Scale

I used to obsess about the numbers on the scale. I’d weigh myself first thing in the morning, always without clothes on, preferably after I’d gone to the bathroom. It would make or break my day.

The decision to measure progress without my scale

Then, back in 2013, I threw out my scale. I put it in the garbage can in my kitchen and kissed it goodbye. Life has never been better. Did I gain weight? Did I lose all control of my health? Did I completely stop taking care of myself? None of the above. In fact, throwing out my scale allowed me to get sane about food and make choices based on my health rather than some arbitrary number. (In case you’re wondering how I know I didn’t gain weight: I still go to the doctor, so I get weighed there. Not to mention I use some of the other ideas below, to track myself).

How to measure progress without the scale

Here’s how you can let go of the scale but still stay on track.

Measure progress with your clothes

Use your clothes as your guide. In my opinion, this is one of THE BEST ways to know if your body is growing, shrinking, or staying the same. Do you have a pair of jeans that are your fave? I don’t mean the pair you wore when you were 17, that’s just plain unrealistic. I mean a well-fitting, flattering pair that you either love right now or loved a handful of pounds ago. Use ‘em. If they fit comfortably, all is well. If they’re getting snug, assess what’s been going on with your eating and exercise lately. If they’re loose, and that was your goal, then go you!

FYI: You have to use clothes that are more structured for this, not baggy sweatpants or linen shorts with an elastic waist.

Measure progress with your energy

Check your energy. When we talk about wanting to get healthy, we often just think about seeing a smaller number on the scale, but isn’t how you feel even more important? Is your energy good? Does your body feel more or less vibrant than a year ago? What’s your sleep quality like? How do you feel when you exercise? All of these markers may be even more important than what you weigh. After all, your body is always communicating with you, so if it feels good, you’re probably on the right track.

Measure progress with photos

Take progress photos. Maybe this is your jam, or maybe not, but it’s definitely one way to track progress after you’ve thrown out your scale (‘cause you did that, right?). In fact, some people who start strength training may not lose weight on the scale, but they can certainly lose inches and feel more energetic.

If you want to take progress photos, wear undies or a bathing suit and take front, side, and rear view pictures. Wait a minimum of four weeks to take the second set of snaps, and after that take them on a consistent schedule (once a month or so is fine). You’ll be surprised by how different you look when you compare pictures, even if you don’t notice the changes day-to-day.

Measure progress with other numbers

I just mentioned losing inches...tracking your measurements this way may be helpful to you, especially your waist. As a rough rule of thumb, having your waist size the same or smaller than half your height is an indicator of positive health outcomes. If you're 64 inches tall, you're aiming for a 32 inch or smaller waist, if you're 72 inches you're aiming for 36 inch or smaller waist.

And, of course, you’ll keep monitoring those important numbers that you’re always watching, like your blood sugar. If you’re changing up your exercise and food, you may be surprised at what you find!

So join me: instead of obsessing about the scale, track your health beyond the scale.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.