Updated on July 7th, 2023 at 06:48 pm

When you decide to lead a healthy lifestyle and shed some weight, you’ll need a diet plan, an exercise regimen, motivation, willpower, and a method to measure your progress. Often people use scales to determine how much weight they’ve lost, but they don’t always give accurate weight readings given that they don’t account for all factors affecting body weight.

To see a better picture of your progress and remain body positive, you need to learn how to weigh yourself without a scale.

We’ll look at creative methods that can help paint a more accurate picture of your weight loss progress.

Reasons not to use a scale

  • Doesn’t consider muscle gain – when you start working out, you’ll lose fat and gain muscle mass. Since muscle weighs more than fat, weighing yourself on a scale might show little to no weight change.
  • Leaves you disappointed – when you weigh yourself every morning and get a number you didn’t expect, your mood could be ruined. It leaves you feeling like your effort is in vain, which leads to a lack of confidence and motivation, leading to you quitting the new healthy lifestyle, before really giving it a chance.
  • Leads to bad behaviors – it’s possible to get obsessed with the scale numbers that you forget about maintaining a healthy body mass index. If you consistently don’t get desired results, you may opt for unhealthy habits like overexerting yourself in workouts or fasting to see a drop in weight.

When losing weight, the goal is to shed and maintain a healthy weight. Depending on your body and exercise regimen, you can lose between 1 and 2 pounds a week.

Ways to measure weight without a scale

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Use a measuring tape

Though this method doesn’t tell you how much you weigh, it can help you keep track of how much fat you’ve lost. To get accurate readings of your waist circumference, keep the following in mind:

  • Your waist measurements won’t change daily. Therefore, spread out the measurements 4-6 weeks apart.
  • When taking measurements, always measure the same spot. Using your belly button as a point of reference is a great way of ensuring you adhere to this.
  • Always hold the measuring tape parallel to the ground when wrapping it around your waist. Hold the start of the tape at your belly button and record the lines that line up with it after wrapping around.
  • Ensure your abdomen is relaxed and the tape is held firmly on the skin when measuring.

Note: Men with 40+ inches and women with 35+ inch waist measurements are likely to have excessive amounts of visceral fat.

You can use a measuring tape to check your fat loss or muscle gain progress around the biceps, neck, calves, or thighs.

Use a body fat caliper – skinfold caliper

With a body fat caliper, you can administer pinch tests that help you measure body fat percentage. The skinfold calipers approximate the thickness of your subcutaneous layer. Measurements are done at 3, 7, or 10 points and vary between women and men. The measurements are taken from the abdomen, triceps, chest, thighs, and shoulder blades.

After taking measurements, use them in a formula to calculate body fat percentage.

Properly using body calipers

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  • Usually, measurements are taken on the right side of the body. Start by pinching your skin with your left hand at the measuring point. Make a C-shape with your index finger and thumb to hold the skin securely.
  • With your right hand, hold the caliper perpendicular to the pinched skin. Place the jaw around the pinched skin.
  • Lock the caliper’s measurement and remove it from the skinfold to record your measurement. Repeat this process three times on the same spot, and find the average to use in your body fat percentage formula.
  • Repeat the process for every point you want to measure.

When using a skinfold caliper to measure your body fat percentage, it’s imperative to grab the same amount of skin at the point of measurement and at the same time of the day. And like using a measuring tape, take measurements after every four weeks.

While using the caliper yourself is possible, it is more effective when you have help from a friend, doctor, or physical trainer.

Old clothes

If you have a dress or a pair of pants you hope to fit into again, you can use them to track weight loss. How tight or loose the dress or pants are will tell you how much progress you’ve made. It also tells you how many sizes you’ve dropped, which can help boost your confidence.

On the flip side, they may not feel tighter or looser, but your toned body will look even better in them than before.

Before and after photos

When you embark on a weight loss journey, you are advised to document the process with photos. Since the changes are slow and gradual, you might not notice them. However, a quick comparison of the before and after photos will show how far you’ve come. These changes will keep you accountable and motivated, especially if you share on social media.

For photos to be great for comparison, they should be taken in the same clothes and at the same spot and time of day. The more skin you show in the photos, the better you’ll see the changes. Because of this, many people opt to wear swimsuits when taking their before and after photos.

Archimedes principle – water displacement method 

You may recognize this from your high school physics class. The Archimedes principle states that a body submerged in fluid experiences an upward force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid. Though the principle is accurate in determining buoyancy force, it only estimates weight.

To conduct the Archimedes principle test, you’ll need:

  • Water
  • A barrel large enough to fit in or a bathtub
  • A grease pencil or non-permanent marker
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Calculator
  • A friend to help


  • Sit in a bathtub and fill in enough water to be submerged. Once fully submerged, have your friend use the grease pencil to mark the resting water level.
  • No water should spill over the bathtub. After marking the water level, leave the bathtub and let the water level settle before marking the new level.
  • Use a tape measure to measure the vertical distance between the two market points and record the number. Enter this number into the Siri equation to determine your body fat percentage. Alternatively, you can calculate the volume displaced by multiplying the tub’s surface area by the vertical distance between the markers. For instance, if the distance is 20 cm and the surface area is 3,000, the total volume displaced is 60,000 cm3. Since your weight is equivalent to the volume displaced, then your weight translates to 60 kgs/132.2 pounds

Repeat this process every few weeks to compare results. If you get a higher volume, then you’ve had weight gain since your last test. But if it’s a lower volume, you’ve lost weight.

Fulcrum method (see-saw)

The fulcrum method is more accurate and fun than the Archimedes principle method. To conduct it accurately, you’ll need:

  • A see-saw
  • Pen and notebook
  • Several 1-gallon paint cans
  • A friend to help

After setting up the materials needed, sit on one end of your see-saw, and your friend sets cans on the other end. Have them place the paint cans one at a time until the see-saw balances.

If you don’t have a helper, estimate how many paint cans you weigh and start with them. Add one by one until you are level. To calculate your weight, multiply the number of cans placed on the see-saw and multiply it by 8.33 pounds. Record this number to compare it with your future results.

Living healthy

Whether you are looking to lose weight or gain mass, your body weight will fluctuate throughout the day all day. It’s also important to know muscle is heavier than fat. So while you may have lost fat, your weight might have increased if you’ve gained muscle.

The trick to successful healthy living is self-accountability and patience. If you want to track body fat percentage, you’ll have to learn how to use a caliper. But if you prefer a scientific approach, the see-saw method or Archimedes principle method is ideal.