Are YOU Making This Common Weight Loss Mistake?
Tracking successful progress with your weight loss and physique goals is not as simple as stepping on to a scale every morning. In fact, this is probably one of the worst approaches that you can take to determine whether you’re moving forward with your goals! Unfortunately, this exact facet of measurement is considered the sole determinant of success for individuals around the globe. As a coach who often works with significant weight loss oriented transformations, I can assure you of the following realities:
Losing any amount of weight is rarely a linear progression.
People with a larger amount of excess weight to lose often lose weight at the same rate as those with less when considering the relative percentage. For example, if someone who desires to lose 10 lbs., loses 0.5 lbs. a week and someone desiring to lose 100 lbs. loses 5 lbs. per week, they are both seeing success at the same rate of progress (5% per week). The difference in total number of pounds often leads people to assume that they are failing or moving too slowly. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the total number.
Daily weight fluctuations are completely normal and to think otherwise is far from rational. If you woke up and had a meal, drank a few bottles of water and put clothes on, it’s only to be expected that the scale will represent those changes. Food weighs more than nothing. Fluid weighs more than nothing. Clothes weigh more than nothing. If this fact frustrates you and allows feelings of defeat to fester within you, avoid stepping on the scale any time other than first thing in the morning on an empty stomach in the nude. This is the MOST accurate representation of your body weight.
Eating salty food will often be reflected by an increase in weight on the scale. This does not mean you ‘got fat’ overnight as many clients proclaim. This means you are retaining water. Once the excess sodium is excreted, you will be back to normal.
Slow progress should never be confused with no progress. We can’t control the speed at which the body will progress in a desired direction. What we can control is ensuring we are diligent with the daily actions that contribute to the forward momentum we need to see our goals through to success.
Be aware that weight itself represents your relationship with gravity. It measures your organs, your bones, your muscles - EVERYTHING all at once. Furthermore, if you’ve been employing a semi-starvation diet (restricting calories) for any length of time, it’s completely possible that you will see an initial weight gain upon adopting a healthier approach as your body resets certain metabolic functions that it had previously slowed down. Also to be taken into consideration by those simultaneously starting a strength-training program is the possibility of seeing out-of-the-ordinary weight fluctuations. This occurs as a by-product of the body dealing with inflammation, water retention in the muscle belly and development of muscle tissue, which is more rapid in the initial stage of strength training. It should be noted that this is NOT dramatic (e.g., gaining weight for weeks on end or gaining a large amount of weight upon starting). Also, it is less likely to occur if you have a larger amount of excess weight to lose. The best mindset to develop involves recognizing that the more data points you can employ, the better. Having more facets of measurement will contribute to a more complete representation of your progress.
Below are a few modes of measurement that I would suggest:
Photos – it’s always encouraging to see a visual representation of your progress. Being able to see the changes in your body’s shape and appearance is a valuable tool. If you didn’t lose weight, your waist measurement stayed the same, but your body fat percentage dropped slightly, you are more likely to see that reflected in a photo!
Clothes – are your jeans fitting better than they used to? Are you shopping for smaller sizes than 2 months previously? Do you have to get your favourite work clothes altered or bring your belt in a few notches? All of these (and more) indicate progress!
Measuring Tape – sometimes our body composition changes much more rapidly than the scale might reflect! I’ve had clients frustrated beyond belief with only losing minimal amounts of weight on a weekly basis only to find that their waist measurements have gone down 2-3 inches in the meantime! This was exactly where they were hoping to see progress the most and they weren’t measuring it! If they had focused on their inches from Day 1 they would have likely been much more encouraging by their rate of progress!
Body Fat Scale – although not all body fat scales are the most accurate, they are a reliable measurement tool when compared back to themselves. Ensuring that your body fat percentage is going down is arguably more valuable than weight alone as it tells you that your body composition is improving. Technically, you can lose weight and if your mode of weight loss is unhealthy, your body can be burning away hard-earned muscle as well. We want to maintain that hard-earned muscle. Having a general idea of your relative muscle mass to body fat ratio is most valuable and paints a much more telling picture of your progress! (A simple home option to reliably track body fat progress)
Strength Progressions – if your goal is to improve overall health, then there is no doubt that getting stronger plays a role in your future pursuits. Make certain to track your lifts in the gym for accountability. If something is becoming easier to execute, it might be time to raise the intensity and grab that intimidating set of dumbbells to your right. It also provides great motivation to look back at your training regimen and realize that exercises that used to be tough with 40 lbs. are now easy with 60 lbs. etc.!
To conclude, improving your future health and fitness profile is an endless pursuit but a rewarding one to be enjoyed. Avoid getting hung up on one number that tells very little about your true progress relative to your training efforts and introduction of improved, health-conscious habits. Being healthier, stronger and further developing your general fitness level is a multifaceted arena in which the rate of progress ebbs and flows. When it comes to your health, the more areas you measure, the more efficiently and effectively you can manage your results!