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.
Believe it or not, it’s 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. Over the years we’ve (fitness and therapy professionals) seen people drop out of their workout program simply due to the fact they haven’t lost “weight” on the scale. The problem is, there’s WAY too much focus on the scale and believing that if that number doesn't change, you're simply not getting real results. The important questions to ask yourself:
Are your clothes fitting better?
Do you look better than before you started your fitness routine?
Do you have more energy? Less pain? More confidence?
If YES, then who cares what the scale says!
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.
The Truth about Your Weight……
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 weight lifter’s weight could be off the charts because of extra muscle, but it doesn't mean he/she is overweight or fat. I actually knew an athlete that was considered to be obese on the BMI scale and he only had 6% body 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. Personally, I believe taking measurements with a measuring tape every three-six months is even more beneficial than tracking body fat since there is so much inconsistency in the ways different fitness professionals perform the body fat test. Another unknown fact about body fat when using the caliper method is that there are different numbers depending on your age. For example: If you were 26 years old and had 50 total mm, you’d have 26.5 % body fat. The same exact measurement (50 mm) done on a 55 year old would register at 33.5% body fat. The older you are, the more body fat your body is supposed to have.
Another reason scale weight isn't so reliable is that it changes all the time. You will see weight changes throughout the day, sometimes by as much as 10 pounds depending on what and how often you eat and drink, how often you go to the bathroom, or if you are retaining water.
Another very important fact about losing body fat and inches is that you are 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 changing hydration levels.
One of our patients/training clients lost 40 pounds and then got on a weight plateau. However, me and everyone else around her kept commenting on how great she looked. She just kept saying….”but I haven’t lost any more weight”…. With a definitive sound of defeat when she said it.
So on May 22nd of this year I took her body fat measurements and measured her by inches with measuring tape. At that time I told her we would do it again in three months and not to give up! On August 23rd I repeated the exact same measurements and without losing another single pound here were her results:
May 22nd – Body fat total mm = 107 = 44% body fat
August 23rd – Body fat total mm = 94 = 41.2% body fat
A total loss of 2.8 % Body Fat in three months
May 22nd measurements in inches (Black) August 23rd Measurements (Red)
Arm: 12 ~ 11.5 Waist: 45~ 43 Chest: 40 ~ 39 Hips: 52 ~ 50 Leg: 30~ 28.5
Results: ½ inch lost off her arm, 2 inches from her waist, 1 inch from her chest (around the arm pit area) 2 inches from her hips and 1.5 inches from her leg (around her inner thigh and outer thigh)
THIS IS A TOTAL LOSS OF 7 INCHES OFF OF HER BODY IN THREE MONTHS, THEREFORE SHE APPEARS MUCH SMALLER AND MUCH MORE FIT!!
What fitness activities did she participate in?
Seniorcise class 2 x week
30 minutes of personal training (with a variety of exercises) 1 x week
Fitness Director, Personal Trainer, Pilates and Group Fitness Instructor