Updated: Jun 5, 2021
So you’ve started a change in lifestyle by eating healthier and starting an exercise plan but you're not losing weight, although your body shape is changing. As a result, you start to have more energy and feel more energised and confident. You even start to feel your clothes getting a bit looser. But you get on the scales and don’t see any weight loss. You then start to feel demotivated about your progress. But why aren’t the scales showing the progress? Why do your clothes feel looser but you’re not losing weight?
When you talk about losing weight, what you usually mean is slimming down. You want to lose weight around the hips, thighs, belly, and arms. But, the odd thing about slimming down is that it doesn't always mean losing actual weight off the scale. You may not be losing weight but you can see a difference in your body shape.
It may sound strange, but it is possible to get thinner without actually seeing a change in your weight. This happens when you lose body fat while gaining muscle. Your weight may stay the same, even as you lose inches, a sign that you're moving in the right direction. The problem is, you may be focused on the scale, believing that if that number doesn't change, you're simply not getting real results. Knowing the difference between losing weight and losing body fat can change how you see yourself, your progress, and maybe even how you look at your own body.
This is quite a common situation I have with clients when I first start training with them. The danger is if you don’t see the results on the scales that you expect, then you think you may as well not bother, it’s not really working anyway, and go back to your old ways, and in return, you start putting on more weight and your clothes don’t fit you anymore. This is one of the biggest reasons people give up on their fitness and weight loss goals.
The typical scale shows your weight, but it doesn't tell you how much of that weight is muscle, fat, water, bones, or organs. A bodybuilder's weight could be off the charts because of extra muscle, but it doesn't mean he's overweight or fat. Knowing your body composition is crucial information if you really want to get results and, unfortunately, the typical scale doesn't tell you that.
Another reason scale weight isn't so reliable is that it changes all the time. You will see weight changes throughout the day, depending on what and how often you eat and drink, how often you go to the bathroom, or if you are retaining water.
The scale does have some important uses. For people who have lost weight, studies have shown that regularly weighing themselves helps them maintain that weight loss. It's easy for weight to creep up over time, so the scale is a useful tool in that respect.
Focusing on fat loss is much more important than focusing on your weight. When you lose body fat, you're making permanent changes in your body, shifting your body composition so that you have less fat and more muscle. When you lose weight, you could be losing water or even muscle. It's impossible to know if you're seeing real results or just the product of your daily habits, hormonal shifts, and the change of hydration levels.
It helps to remember that your body loses weight in a certain order based on your gender, age, genetics, and other factors beyond your control. Just because you aren't losing weight in your hips or your bum doesn't mean you're not losing weight somewhere else. It may just be from a place you don't much care about.
Here is a more precise way to measure success:
Go by how your clothes feel
Take your measurements
Take photos of yourself
Use a scale that measures body fat (they are not 100% accurate but use it as a guide).
Set performance goals Instead of worrying about weight loss or fat loss, focus on completing a certain number of workouts each week or maybe competing in a race or event.
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