If there’s one thing I wish I could convince people of, it’s that the scale shouldn’t be their only (or best) indicator of how effective a diet or exercise program is. So many of the people who sign up for my 30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond programs ask me if they’ll lose weight, and so many of my training clients ask the same thing. Weight loss is great, and it’s a normal effect of moving to a healthier lifestyle, but it isn’t the indicator I most trust for how things are going.
Consider: fat weighs less than muscle. That means that if you’re doing a lot of weight lifting while eating healthier (and less) than before, you might not see a huge change on the scale. Your body might completely transform from flabby to firm without significant weight loss, depending on where you began, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been 100% successful.
If your goals are looking and feeling better, going down in clothing sizes and/or improving your blood pressure and cholesterol, it’s possible to make substantial gains with each of those indicators without the needle on the scale moving that much.
What I recommend is starting with comprehensive notes on where you are on day one—weight, measurements, pants/dress sizes, cholesterol and blood pressure (if relevant) and some notes on strength and stamina. Then, note those same points of data on a regular basis—like once a month. I typically see my clients experience a mix of progress indicators in addition to weight loss that give a better total picture of how things are going.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that can affect how much weight you lose over what period of time. It’s not unusual for weight loss to taper off or plateau after doing the same things for a while. People who adopt a healthy lifestyle will see different amounts of weight loss depending on where they began, how old they are, what their workout routine is, their hormones, etc.
This is one of those situations where I’d really advise you to 1. Look at the bigger picture for indicators of progress, rather than just the scale, and 2. Talk to a trusted expert if you really believe you’re not getting the results you should for how hard you’re working. The best choice, in my opinion, is to have an expert (like a healthcare professional, personal trainer or nutritionist) working with you the whole time to help create lifestyle guidelines, track and measure progress and adapt as things move along.
The point is: The scale isn’t the only thing that can tell you how you’re doing, and it doesn’t necessarily have any relationship with how healthy, fit and thin you’re getting. Don’t let the numbers you might see there get you down!