I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “muscle weighs more than fat.” And then the comeback that “a pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh the same pound.”
Here’s the point: muscle takes up less space than fat. So let’s reprogram ourselves, because the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. We shouldn’t be using it as the indicator of …
… our success.
I’ve gained weight from building muscle but gone down in measurements, clothing size, and body fat.
I’ve lost weight from not building muscle and my clothes got tighter.
Two people of the same height who both weigh 140 pounds can wear two different clothing sizes. The one with the lower body fat percentage will be a leaner, slimmer person.
Besides – I’ve lost pounds while on calorie counting diets where I ate 1000 calories a day of whatever I wanted. If that was 22 Oreo cookies, then that’s all I ate that day. (I’m guessing you’ve been there :))
That’s not sustainable, kept me addicted to sugar, and helped lead me to medical problems down the road because of such abysmal nutritional habits.
And finally, tell me something that’s more frustrating than the &*%$@ fluctuating numbers on a bathroom scale…. (don’t even get me started about getting weighed at the doctor).
So here’s the deal, ladies, stop focusing on the scale so much! Focus on all the choices you can control – the stuff that gets us what we’re really going for: to look AND feel better. If we don’t feel better, we’re not going to stick to the “diet” and we’re just gonna gain it all back and feel defeated and livid with ourselves again. Obviously, depending on how much body fat you have, you will lose pounds as well as inches. But the closer you get to a healthy body fat level, the less those pounds are going to come off.
I’m suggesting you measure these numbers instead of the ones on the scale. Re-write your goals and re-frame what you tell yourself and I’m betting you that you’re much more likely to succeed!
1. Follow the 75/25 rule.
Studies are showing that effectively losing & maintaining size is about 75% from food intake and 25% from exercise. As I’ve explained here many times, I follow a Paleo-ish diet but because I’m not a health professional, you will have to decide on the healthy diet for you. What I think every current health professional agrees on is that clean, “real,” unprocessed, unrefined, not fried, lean, low sugar foods are the healthiest AND most conducive to weight loss. That means as few packaged foods a day as possible.
Set some benchmarks for yourself, increasing them every few weeks: Count your reduction in sugar packets, bleached flour & flour products, cans of soda, frozen & boxed foods, sugary granola bars, chips, crackers, etc. Count how many times you passed up fast food, ate home cooked meals, or ate a clean snack instead of a candy bar, chips, or cookies between meals.
2. Work out 3-4 days a week.
At least start with one day a week. Just start somewhere. Go to the weight room. Find a fitness class that uses weights. Use machines. Get a personal trainer. Put on leg weights and go for walks. Buy exercise DVD’s such as P90X. Walk briskly or run. Ride a bike inside or out. Go hiking or cross country skiing. Use an elliptical. Try Yoga or Pilates. Go to Spin class, Barre class, TRX, or Zumba. Take hip hop or ballroom dance. We’re so fortunate nowadays that there are so many to choose from.
Think back… we seem to all have one or two types of physical movement that we haven’t despised. Or try one of the many new ones. Make it your goal to try one once a week for the next few weeks and then increase to two and so on.
3. Track your repetitions, amount of weight on the barbell, speed, and finishing times.
It’s such a kick to see blatant numerical proof that you’re stronger, faster, and fitter than you were a few weeks before. Keep an exercise journal. It’s wonderfully encouraging!
4. Use body fat, a tape measure, and clothing size, not the scale.
We build muscle and lose fat by: doing weight-bearing exercise (especially if you’re over 40!) and cardiovascular exercise. The more muscle, the faster your metabolism. Cardio is not enough. Switch up your exercise so your body doesn’t get used to doing the same thing all the time and plateau. Besides, different types of exercise use different muscles.
5. See if you can reduce medications.
Eating clean food, reducing sugar, exercising 3-4 days a week, and getting outside can dramatically reduce the need for medications from both chronic conditions and by boosting your immune system.
* I hope it’s obvious that you need to work with your doctor on this *
Examples for me are allergy medicine and pain relievers. I haven’t had a headache in…. I can’t even remember how long. Years. Not that I got them constantly before eating healthier, but I took pain relievers periodically throughout the year. In the past three years I think I’ve taken them once or twice a year. My seasonal allergies have also gotten to the point where I take a few pills here and there.
6. Stick with it.
Instead of measuring your progress on a scale, measure your progress by length of time you’re sticking to a new lifestyle. Please, please hear me: this does not mean that unless you have 100% perfection, you’ve blown it, that day was a bust and you’ve failed. This means that you’ve made a choice or several choices every day or even throughout the week that are moving you forward in your health.
Little by little they can snowball and create a totally different trajectory than if you didn’t start at all. Even if holidays or special occasions come up smack dab in the middle that are full of gluttony, just start back when that’s done.
So put some stars on your calendar and stand back and acknowledge your efforts & progress! Count the days you stuck with it this week or month and try for more next month.
Go get it!
Keep moving forward,