A lot of people who start a diet are obsessed by the scale. However, the scale is not the most effective way to monitor your progress.
I will prove during this article that the scale can be one of the bigger obstacles you face while trying to sculpt your body. I will also explain how to keep your motivation high by providing you with some examples that will prove my point.
Be careful with the scale and trust your eyes.
Progress Pictures and Motivation
Scale Losses Start Fast, Then Slow
When we start a diet, we see immediate improvements on the scale just by changing our food habits. Every beginning of a diet and training program is very motivating. We are so happy to see the pounds going down that we don't really try to understand the why behind it.
The first weeks of our new diet and exercise program, we can usually see our bodyweight dropping tremendously. Often, we start our programs by immediately eliminating all bad fats and sugar, feeding the body more properly with the right foods (and drinking more water), and we increase our activity by going to the gym. Our metabolism quickly begins to adapt to the new food, lowered caloric intake and our new exercise habits. All of these factors forces the body to start losing weight in the form of fat and excess water.
However, weight training (yes, you should be weight training if you are looking to lose fat) will also make you gain muscle. In addition, because a large part of your initial weight loss comes from losing excess water weight and glycogen (excess carbohydrates), eventually you will start to lose only 1-2 lbs a week, and at times the scale might even stay the same. And this is when we start losing our motivation...
Be Psychologically Ready For A Plateau
Like I was saying, after the first few weeks of a diet, weight loss slows down, and at times it looks like it is going nowhere. We start to think that our body has stopped responding to the diet, and that something is wrong. So logically, if the diet isn't working anymore, why continue?
This is the thought process that makes us give up. We start eating crap again and kill all our progress, usually gaining back twice the amount of weight. But things do not need to be this way!
Here is the trick that will help you succeed. When you reach a plateau, stop using the scale. The scale is a very good motivator at first, but it becomes a big psychological obstacle after the weeks go by.
What I want you to do instead is to use progress pictures. Start from the first day of your diet. Take these progress pictures every 2 or 3 weeks with the same position and the same clothes.
If you want to, you can also take some measurements with a tape measure and write them down on your progress pictures. Measure your hips and your waist at the very minimum. You can also add to that some thigh measurements and some arm measurements as well.
When the weight loss stops because you are gaining muscle at the same time that you are losing fat, pictures will help prevent you from getting discouraged. You will not only have not only a visual aid to show you your real progress, but also concrete data in the form of body measurements.
Body Sculpting After a Weight Loss Plateau
When your bodyweight stops decreasing, this is where you will have the most progress. The scale might even maybe go up a little. The reason for this is because we start to build muscle. Ladies, there is no need to fear muscles! Here's why:
- Women don’t produce the amount of testosterone that guys do. Because of this you will not get manly looking muscles. Thus, do not be afraid of lifting those weights.
- Muscles will give you the nice curves you are looking for.
- Every pound of muscle burns up to an additional 50 calories. So ten pounds of extra muscle not only will give you some killer curves, but the ability to burn up to an additional 500 calories a day! Building muscle is the key to not only permanent weight loss, but also to the fit curves you are looking for.
Muscle Weighs More Than Fat
Something that you need to know about muscle is that it is heavier that fat. Never forget that.
Compare the difference of densities. The density of muscle is 1.7 kg/liter (3.74 lbs/liter) while the density of fat is 0.92 kg/liter (2lbs /liter). Note: 1 liter equal 1 cubic decimeter.
This means that 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of muscle occupies a volume of 0.59 liter while 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of fat occupies a volume of 1.1 liter. At the same weight, fat occupies a volume that is almost 2 times higher than that of muscle. That explain why a fit person who weighs 130lbs can seem much thinner than the average person who weighs 120lbs.
So don't be frustrated if your bodyweight is not going down. Using the scale as your only tool for tracking progress is not effective. Just look at your progress pics, take your measurements and see the curves coming.