Trainer: “What is your fitness goal?”
Exerciser: “I want to lose weight.”
Trainer: “Be more specific.”
Exerciser: “I weigh 200 pounds, and I want to lose 25 pounds”
Trainer: “Throw away your scale. Think FAT LOSS, not weight loss!”
You set the intention. You decided what you wanted.
Over the next couple weeks, you took action. Hours were spent in the gym, and you stayed consistent with your diet. A whole month passed, and after putting in all the work, you lost little or no weight. Does this story sound familiar? Are your weight loss results not happening at the rate you intended? If so, you are not alone. Weight loss is at the top of the list of New Year’s resolutions and one of the most common goals among exercisers. For those of us on the path of weight loss, patience is often tested and frustration may arise.
So, what is it that is stopping us from stepping on the scale and seeing the number we desire?
Could the significance we so freely give to the scale be what is holding us back? In this article, we will explore alternative ways to gauge our weight loss and track our progress.
Let’s first discuss the idea of the weigh-in. What is weight? We stand on this machine and receive a number. What does this number tell us? It gives us one of three possible answers. Based on our goal, we either made progress, set ourselves back, or stayed the same. This number influences our emotional state (often times negatively). However, if we look at the bigger picture here and understand that weight represents a measurement that is constantly changing, we may lessen the importance we place on the number. For example, we can weigh ourselves in the morning and then again at night and be 5 pounds heavier. Why is this? It is because the body is always changing, reacting to our actions and our environment. What we eat and how active we are throughout the day will change our weight in an instant. A constant state of fluctuation exists, but still, we allow this number to control how we feel. So, why do we place so much importance on this number that we know will always be changing?
If only there was a measurement that more closely represented the progress of our “weight loss.”
Well, there is! It is called Body Fat Percentage, and this is the measurement we all should be using to track our progress. Let’s get one thing straight. With the majority of cases in which weight loss is the goal, the statement “I want to lose weight,” can be translated as “I want to lose body fat.” Weight loss can mean losing fat, muscle, and water, and that is NOT what we want.
The truth is, it is our STORED BODY FAT that we want to lose, and the measurement of body fat percentage is the way to gauge it.
In the image above, we see that it is the body fat percentage that makes all the difference. We must think “Fat Loss,” not weight loss. Body fat percentage can be measured a few different ways. Skin calipers, bioelectrical impedance, and hydrostatic weighing are the most common approaches. It is recommended that your measurement be done by someone with knowledge and experience in the field. Measuring body fat percentage every one to two weeks will give us a clear sense of our progress. According to the American Council on Exercise, most experts agree that a 1% loss per month is generally safe and doable. That being said, there is much less fluctuation in this measurement because we cannot gain/lose body fat at the rate we can gain/lose weight. Overall, body fat percentage is more directly related to our fitness goal than weight is. It is time we put our focus on the amount of fat our body is holding. Let’s take the same value we give to the scale and place it now on the measurement of body fat percentage.
In closing, we must accept the fact that our weight fluctuates, and it always will.
It will increase and decrease all throughout our lifetime. Life happens, and our weight goes up and down each day. More simply put, the human body remains in a constant state of change that will always be affecting our weight. Measuring our body fat percentage is a much more reliable approach to tracking our progress. Let’s forget about the validation we seek from the scale. Instead, let’s be aware of our own emotional state in relation to our bodies. Let’s constantly ask ourselves HOW WE FEEL. How do our clothes fit? Have we lost a notch on the belt? Do we look healthier when we pass the mirror? Are we getting more compliments regarding our bodies? Simply being more conscious of how we feel in addition to keeping tabs on our body fat percentage is a formula that will be of great benefit to those of us with this common goal.
Stay Focused. Stay Disciplined. Stay Committed.