Why the scales suck (and what to focus on instead)

One of the sadder moments in my career as a nutritionist was when I convinced a client to focus on weight training to change her body composition instead of doing long distance cardio.

That’s exactly what she did, however I wasn’t prepared for what happened next…

She had already lost over 15kg since we begun.

She worked hard for 6 weeks.

She learnt alot of new exercises at the gym after some basic training.

She was looking great and people were commenting.

Her clothes were fitting better.


Then she jumped on the scales.
Her weight hadn’t budged in the 6 weeks of weight training.
She had all this positive feedback in other areas of her life but she let the number on the scale dictate her mood, happiness and attitude.

I could not convince her to forget this number.

I tried to convince her that she was adding muscle and to forget what the number said.


However when you’ve been using the number on the scale as your measure of progress for years, I could understand why it was difficult.

She gave up on her goals because of what the scale said.

The silver lining to this story is that she did pick herself up again later on and now she is absolutely killing it 🙂 Happy endings!



If you want to see how bad the scales are, here is a little experiment for you to try at home.

  1. Jump on the scales. Take note of your weight.
  2. Drink 1 litre of water.
  3. Jump back on scales. Take note of your weight.

The scales really are a good way to mess with your head.


What else can manipulate the weight on the scale?

The body is never in a constant state.

It’s constantly burning energy, storing energy, creating waste to be excreted and more.

There are SO MANY FACTORS that can influence your weight.

Salt Intake

Yes the amount of salt you consume can affect your water retention.
Your body is constantly trying to maintain a level of water.
Salt / Electrolyte intake plays a CRUCIAL role in how much water you retain.
If you have a hi-salt diet, it’s quite possible you are retaining more water than you need to.

Carbohydrate Intake

Yes the amount of carbs also affect how much water you retain.
This is because with every gram of carbohydrates you consume, your body will also attach 2-3 mls of water.
Most of these carbs are stored in the muscle and this is known as ‘Muscle Glycogen’.
Guess what happens when you adopt a low carb diet? Most people drop 1-4kg of water in the first week.
This is not fat dropping, but the water attached to the carbohydrates is being flushed out.

Exercise Schedule

Yes carbs affect how much energy is stored inside your muscles, however if you do INTENSE exercise you will DEPLETE the muscles.
You can quite easily burn through all your stored ‘Muscle Glycogen’ in a massive training session.
You WILL drop weight.
However when you ‘refill’ your muscles with new carbs, your weight will INCREASE.

Hormones / Time of Month (Ladies)

Yes it has to be said. Ladies do have a harder time than blokes once a month. This can lead to increased water retention and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it!

Free Yourself!

Take into account all the points above and you’re in for a ROLLERCOASTER of emotion.
Now imagine if you had chosen to “care” what the scales say. You are turning yourself into an emotional wreck for no reason.
There is absolutely no point in weighing yourself more than once every 2-4 weeks.
Check yoself! Break that association in your head that says scales = progress.

Did I mention that your weight includes your lean body mass, water retention, bone mass, organs and finally your fat?

Take a look at this breakdown of the human body from my body composition scanner:


How should you measure progress?

This is your choice but here at FlexiDiet we believe in celebrating the ‘little wins’.
This can be anything.
Not caring about the scale is progress.
No longer craving junk food is progress.
Fitting clothes better is progress.
Beating your personal best in training is progress.

There are 1000 other things you can look at which will free your mind, body and soul.

If you need help celebrating the little wins, don’t hesitate to contact us on info@flexidiet.co.nz and lets see if we can get you on your journey to greatness.


Hi I’m Brad, the founder of FlexiDiet. I’m a ISSA & NZIHF Certified Nutritionist/PT specialising in getting people lean eating burgers. Here at FlexiDiet we don’t believe in clean eating or restrictive diets and we want to teach YOU how to make your favourite foods healthier. If you are enjoying your food, your results will be PERMANENT and you don’t actually need to use a temporary fix ‘diet’.

FlexiDiet is the result of hundreds of successful client transformations. Will you be next?

Your diet doesn’t have to be super clean and restrictive.

Your diet doesn’t have to be confusing.

You diet doesn’t need ‘special foods’ in order to lose fat.

You can still socialise, drink alcohol and lose fat.

We teach you how to meal prep.

Learn to build your own 7 day meal plan with yummy recipes provided.

Want to get started on building your own meal plan right away?