To weigh or not to weigh, that is the question?

By Meeghan, 26 July, 2012

In June, as part of a strategy to keep Forever Strong clients motivated during winter, I decided to trial a studio weight loss challenge. The concept was simple, weigh in once a week for the entire month of June and try at least to maintain weight or best case scenario lose a few kilograms. I also invited clients to guess what the combined studio weight loss total might be and some of you jumped on board this challenge and onto the scales. The total studio weight loss throughout June was 10.7kg. (But keep in mind, not everyone who started the June challenge actually stuck with it.)

In case you didn’t know, Australia is one of the fattest nations on earth. Forget the lean lifesaver; the couch potato is where it’s at. Calling people ‘fat’ is indeed politically incorrect but while our governments have tried to tackle the big social issues like our road toll and smoking, Australian obesity is growing at an alarming rate. So, let’s talk about fat.

Once you begin a program of fitness training most of us will feel better and more energetic almost overnight. But even after a few weeks of hard work some of us will not notice any change in the mirror or on the scales. Now if you’ve been half-hearted about your training and nutrition, well obviously there is a logical reason for your lack of progress. However, you’ve been good you tell me, so here’s what might be happening.

Fat is stored in several places:

  1. Within the muscle (think of a marbled piece of meat)
  2. Around the organs (visceral fat)
  3. Under the skin (subcutaneous fat)

As we get older particularly if we become inactive, fat starts depositing in our muscles first and around the organs and when those stores are full, fat starts spilling out under our skin. However as we start to exercise our bodies draw significantly on our intramuscular stores, so instead of seeing changes in the mirror you may feel your muscles firming up. That is a great sign so don’t give up just yet. And if you’re paying particular attention to the scales, keep in mind that muscle mass will be on the up as you lose fat so the scales might not change much initially either. Some days you may even look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What the hell is going on?”

The key here is to regularly trouble shoot with your trainer about your diet, exercise consistency, duration, and intensity and most importantly stick with it! Here’s something else to look for. The upper body (shoulders, chest and upper abdominal area) generally show improvement first. And while you’re looking for quick results just remember what is REALLY important about this process - a healthy life! Don’t overlook increases in strength, fitness, sleep and well-being just because you can’t look inside your body and see cholesterol falling, energy producing mitochondria multiplying, arteries clearing, blood vessels becoming more efficient and bone-density improving.

What I’ve learned from this winter weight loss challenge is that the scales alone are for most of us, an inefficient way of measuring improvements alone and that some people will need more time for internal changes at the beginning of the process because of lifestyle factors and the long term damage caused by yo-yo dieting.

Whether it’s obvious to you right now or not, I have witnessed too many individual examples of people exercising whole heartedly and consistently, limiting portions and changing bad habits for the better, and ultimately getting great results in the process. It does happen but sometimes, it just takes time.

If you would like to discuss your fat loss challenge in more detail please email Forever Strong Fitness.

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