Michelle Ishio (Resident Post Pregnancy Rehab Specialist and Fitness Expert)
If you’ve been consistently working out on a regular basis, doing both cardiovascular and strengthening exercises, then chances are good that you have shed some fat.
The scale often times might not indicate this because you have also been building lean muscle. Muscle is dense, (a small volume of muscle weighs more than the same volume amount of fat), so the scale might not reflect your hard work because although you lost a few pounds of fat, you have also gained a few pounds of muscle.
The good news is that this equaling of fat loss and muscle gain that shows “no pounds lost” on the scale will eventually level off to where in a couple months, you will see the “pounds of weight lost” on the scale. Also, the more sedentary you were before the regular exercise program that you have just started, the more amount of initial muscle weight gain that you might have to get through, before the “pounds lost” will have to show on the scale.
Here is a list of ways to help you assess your fat loss improvements without using a scale.
1. Check out the numbers. Before you first start an exercise and eating program, take your measurements, both body fat and inches.
For body fat, it would be great if you can have that professionally done, but if not, pinch your own body and remember how it felt and see how it looks. For inch measurements, measure your arm, waist (at the smallest part and one inch below the belly button), hips, thigh’s (at the top of the thigh and the lower part of the thigh). As a note: make sure you write down how high you took your thigh measurements because if you are even higher or lower by an inch, the thigh measurements will most likely end up off from your previous to improved measurements.
Other numerical indicators include a reduction of blood pressure or cholesterol, heart rate, and body fat percentage.
2. Check out your own closet. Take out a pair of pants that fit tight before you started your new exercise and eating program. How do they fit?
3. Check out a mirror. This will require you to be objective and not always be hard on yourself. Look in the mirror for improved muscle definition. Flex your quads (the front of your leg) and is it tighter? Flex your biceps (the top of your arm when you are flexing you arm) and is it tighter?
4. Check out your energy levels. You should not only be able to work out for longer periods of time, but also be able to push yourself more. Just as well, regular household chores and daily tasks should be easier. Are you also able to sleep better at night?
5. Check out your moods. You’ve been showing self-discipline and self-control, so that should give you a boost in your self-esteem and self-confidence. Also, are you less agitated by small incidences and with things that used to upset you easily? Do you simply feel an over-all sense of more peace and happiness?
Just because the scale isn’t showing you the weight loss as soon as you might have imagined, just remember that the scale number is only a part of the over-all determinant of your success.
Don’t give into your frustration or nervousness of whether what you are doing is working or not. As long as you are showing other continuous improvements, then you are still on the right track and haven’t plateaued. Just listen to all of the signs your body is giving you to let you know that what you are doing for yourself is working!