Almost everybody starting out on a new fitness regime is obsessed with the scales. However, the scales are not the best (or the most motivating) way to monitor you progress.
I am constantly having to answers the questions about why the scales are not moving even though the weight is coming off and the clothes are getting looser. This is one concept I have never really understood… Why so many people are so focussed on a number? It is simply that… A number and it means very little in the grand scheme of things.
The first thing many people will notice is that the scales will change in the beginning and then simply stop. This is the most common thing I see and hear about every day. People are so obsessed with the scales going down that they never really stop and think about why they are moving and what it actually means.
The first week or two will see most of us noticing the scales dropping rapidly. This is due to a combination of the “all or nothing” approach most people have with them when starting out. By that I am referring to people eliminating all of the crap from their diets such as trans fats and sugars while fuelling the body with the correct foods in addition to increasing water intake. Add to this the increased activity generated by an exercise routine and our metabolisms are all fired up and only too happy to adapt. All of these factors combined force the body to start losing weight in the form of stored fat and excess water.
Now fast forward a few weeks or a month. You now see the scales slow down to a crawl or just plateau. This is caused by your increased muscle gains. You need to be psychologically prepared for this as this is the number 1 reason people simply give up. (And this is even after they continually state that their clothes are getting looser or the inches are still coming off).
So after a few weeks the scales slow down, and at times does not go anywhere so we get to thinking that there is no point in continuing. After all the scales don’t reflect the effort you’re putting in so why bother? We might as well go back to our old routines and start to shovel all that processed crap into our mouths right? Wrong!
Now this is what I try to explain to SO MANY PEOPLE day in day out that I can pretty much recite it while juggling 10 bowling balls at the same time. Well maybe not, but you get the point. WHEN you reach a plateau (and yes I did actually say WHEN), stop using the scales. Simple! Just do not go near them. They are telling you lies and you don’t need that in your life. Granted, the scales are a good motivator at the start, but they do eventually end up being the biggest burden you’ll have on your weight loss journey.
All you need to do to stay motivated and to see the results is take 2 simple measurements. The waist and the hips. Of course you can include others like the thigh, bicep and chest but it’s not necessary for a quick snapshot of your progress. The other thing to take note of is how your clothes fit. You have NO idea how many people tell me how ecstatic they are because they now fit into a size 10 or 12 top that used to be a size 18 only a couple of months ago only to utter the very next words to be “but the scales have not moved much”. So I groan and repeat everything I told them a few weeks ago when they were happy to be in a size 14, and the cycle continues.
Taking photo’s every few weeks to a month also shows your progress. All of these things cannot lie like the scales can. SO USE THEM. So why do the scales not work the way they are supposed to? What stops them moving even though you have lost dress sizes and are still slimming down? The answer is very simple and I have already said it… Because you are gaining muscle at the same time that you are burning fat. The scales will not tell you about lean muscle gains so you will only read it as a failure in your weight loss journey.
As stupid as this sounds (and trust me people look at me like I am a complete idiot when I say this) the scales slowing down or stopping is a very good thing because it is at this point in time that you will make the greatest amount of progress. This is because it is now that we are replacing ugly unsightly fat with lean muscle. Now before I go any further and explain why you want to build lean muscle I will pause and explain something to all of the women out there who just gasped at the thought of building muscle because their very first thought that comes to mind is that they will look bulky or like a guy. Let me just say that women have no reason to fear lifting the weights and this is why…
- Women don’t produce anywhere near the amount of testosterone that males do. For this very reason alone you will not get “manly” looking muscles.
- Kilo for kilo. muscle is much denser than fat and actually occupies 4 times less space (on the body) than fat does. What this means is that if you wanted to lose say 4 inches from you thighs and tone the area as well, you could lose the fat and replace it with lean muscle. This will decrease the area by the size you were looking for as well as give you sexy curves but the scales will not show it.
- Every kilo of muscle you put on, your body will automatically burn 100 more calories per day to feed it. so an extra 3 kilos of lean muscle you will burn an additional 300 calories per day by simply being alive.
- Lean muscle is the only way to get “toned” as well as those curves you are probably looking for.
NEVER FORGET THAT MUSCLE WEIGHS HEAVIER THAT FAT.
Now you can argue with me that a kilo of fat weighs exactly the same as a kilo of muscle. After all a kilo of feathers weighs the same as a kilo of gold. But I’m not referring to that. I am referring to the density of the example mentioned.
Comparing the different densities of fat and muscle you will see my point. the density of muscle is 1.7 kilograms per litre while the density of fat is 0.92 kilograms per litre.
This means that 1 kilogram of muscle occupies a volume of 0.59 per litre while 1 kilogram of fat occupies 1.1 litre per kilogram. This is even further expanded when on the human frame as the density of fat is almost 4 times that of muscle. This explains why a fit 80 kilogram person can appear thinner than an average 70 kilogram person.
So the moral of the story here is to not be disheartened when the scales do stop. They will stop but you shouldn’t. Just like they stop, they will in fact move again but it is never a good idea to keep an eye on them. Just take your measurements and take notice of your clothes. These 2 things cannot lie.