Weight loss and fat loss are not the same
If you are looking to get into shape, to tone up and to become a fitter and healthier version of yourself, looking at the numbers reflected on the scales is not a true indication of your progress. This is because you can lose weight without actually losing fat and you can lose fat without actually losing weight. While it is a common belief that muscle weights more than fat, what we need to understand is that muscle is not heavier but denser. As an example, a person who may have weighed 58 kilos at the beginning of their fitness journey and had 25% body fat will look completely different at the end of their regime if they lower the percentage of body fat and increase their muscle mass. Therefore, not dropping weight on the scales doesn't mean that they have not changed the shape of their body.
More often than not, when we are looking shed weight we begin to cut back on calories or to over-exercise. Whilst calorie control is important, not nourishing your body with the right kind of nutrients such as protein while embarking on a new fitness regime may mean that you actually beginning to lose muscle mass as opposed to burning fat. So instead of focusing on the numbers, focus on fuelling your body and giving your muscles the best possible chance to recover and grow between your workout sessions.
Your weight may even go up...
A few weeks into a new fitness regime you may be wondering why the numbers on the scales are going up. We know that muscle is denser than fat so if you have been working out and fuelling your body with the right nutrients, your muscle mass will be increasing. Even though you may have been smashing it at the gym, seeing your body shape change and sticking to clean eating, seeing the numbers go up on the scales will still make you feel like you are not making progress. Rather than focusing on the scales, focus on how you look and feel. Even if your weight is not shifting, your clothes will begin to fit better, your shape will begin to change and your fitness will begin to improve. Use these as indicators of your progress, not numbers that give no context.
Your weight fluctuates
How many times have you stepped on the scales only to discover a 3-kilo weight gain in a matter of days? Now, unless you have been consuming five digits worth of calories daily, we know it’s all but impossible to gain this kind of weight in a day or two. What you are actually seeing is a reflection of your water weight, which can result from a high intake of salt, a high intake of processed carbohydrates and more commonly from hormones. This is also the reason you may find you are losing weight quicker at the beginning of your fitness journey and then tend to slow down. Those first few digits that drop are usually an indication of water weight. So before you become disheartened, put the scales away and measure your progress in other ways.
Focusing on numbers is not sustainable
Seeing the numbers drop on a scale does not mean that you are any healthier than you were before. If you choose to minimise your calories and lose weight that way, you may not only be promoting muscle loss, you may also be causing your metabolism to slow down and allowing your body to adapt to burning fewer and fewer calories throughout the day. While this may show weight loss in the short term, it won’t promote weight maintenance in the long term. Once you begin consuming slightly more calories or getting back to your regular routine, your body won’t be able to burn through calories as it once did and will instead begin storing fat in stubborn areas. Instead of starving your body, focus on fuelling it with healthy nutrients, exercising regularly and the results will follow. Approach health and wellness as a lifestyle choice rather than a short term solution.