It’s January and everyone, but everyone seems to be holding back, tightening their belts and generally wearing a hair-shirt. January smells of denial. So, if this is you, if you are going yes, yes, yes, to a new regime and you’ve booked your (no-return) ticket for a fast-track ride from a size 16 to a size 12, then to ensure a sound mind (as well as a totally awesome body), try and stay off the scales. Stop weighing yourself!
“Oh, but it’s such a quick way of finding out whether I’m making progress”, I hear you holler.
Is it a good measure of progress? Really?
Firstly, all of us have said at some point, “I want to lose weight”. But it’s not really weight is it? It’s fat. Those bits you can grab easily, especially after Christmas. Those bits that hang around your belly, flap on your arms and make your inner thighs chafe.
Let’s take my friend Imogen (her name’s not really Imogen, she’d kill me). She is a size 16. She wants to be a size 12. That means she wants to get smaller. Shrink. Fit into smaller clothes.
In order to do that shrinking thing, she (or anyone for that matter) has to invest some time in a good eating plan and an exercise program. This exercise program must involve using her muscles, doing resistance work or weights work. Plus a little bit of tough cardio, but not masses.
So Imogen starts her training programme, religiously does her squats, press ups, deadlifts punctuated by shorts spurts of puffy stuff. They all make all her muscles hurt. This means they’re responding to the training and become firmer, denser. Some of it she hates, but she’s getting on with it.
The body then responds likewise by fuelling those new dense muscles with more calories… coming from her body fat. She loses fat… brilliant… and her muscles get firmer, stronger, more defined. They also get heavier.
So, when Imogen gets on the scales at the end of, say, three weeks, having munched her way through untold amounts of protein, clean carbohydrate, stuffed her face with high protein yogurt and said no to tequila shots, quarter pounders with cheese and that daily croissant… she’s flipping livid.
“Two pounds!?? Two measly pounds??!! That’s pathetic.”
She rang me sobbing. “What’s the point? I’m hopeless, I’ve failed. I fail at everything. I’m never going to do it.”
I scrutinised her food and training diaries. All was spot on. I asked her if she had taken photographs before she started.
“No. I can’t bear looking in the mirror. Why would I do that?”
What about measurements?
“I’ve only got one of those metal things my ex-husband used to put up shelves.”
Are your clothes a bit looser?
“Erm… well… hang on a sec, come to think of it, they are…. that’s weird… yes. I haven’t got a red welt round my middle anymore at the end of the day”
So Imogen is getting smaller. A bit lighter, nothing special but that doesn’t matter. The fat-loss game is about size. Your size decreasing, not your body getting lighter. If you do the correct training for fat-loss, then you will get smaller at a faster rate than the number on the scales will go down. Share it, shout it, have it tattooed on your body.
Stop Weighing Yourself!
Other Tips For Monitoring Your Fat Loss Progress
- Take photos. Go on. Swallow hard, strip down to your undies and stand there, head held high. Full length, front, side and back (or just front and side if you live on your own). Wear only bra and knicks or just shorts for men.
- Take body measurements. With a tape measure, measure chest, waist, hips, arms, top of thigh. Plus anywhere else where you have chunks of fat which you think might go once you focus on your new regime.
A number not budging on the scales tells us very little. It’s not telling us how much fat has been lost. All it does is mess with your head. Watch your progress in the mirror and by the fit of your clothes. And then, when your friends remark on your drop-dead gorgeous-ness, and ask, “How much have you lost?”. You can confidently say, your sweet tooth, your penchant for tequila, the way to the nearest McDonald’s, two dress sizes and nine inches.