This is it. The moment of truth. You’ve been working your butt off for the past three weeks – sweating, toiling, even packing healthy lunches (gasp) – and now the scale is about to reward you. You’ve removed all but the bare minimum of clothes (you don’t want to get a false read, after all), and it’s time to relish in your newfound weight loss. You’re hoping to be down a solid 15 pounds, but you’ll be happy with 10.
And then the unthinkable happens. The scale says you’ve only lost one pound. One measly, barely-worth-mentioning, want-to-cry pound. How can this be? Have the forces of nature conspired against you?
Before you throw in the towel, keep reading. While it’s only natural to want to weigh less, scale weight isn’t the best indicator of fitness level. In fact, forget the scale for a minute, and you’ll probably realize you’ve made improvements in so many other areas. You may not be lighter, but you’re definitely fitter. Here’s why ….
1. You feel stronger.
Think back to when you started your new fitness program. Did that 10-pound dumbbell feel like it weighed 50 pounds? Did you worry your heart would give out as you battled the stair climber? Your body was likely shocked by the sudden activity and needed some time to adjust. If those weights and cardio sessions aren’t feeling so difficult anymore, it’s because you’ve built up some strength and endurance – signs of physical fitness. You might be mentally stronger, too. After all, it takes mental fortitude to establish (and stick to) healthy habits. Whether the scale shows it or not, your increased strength is as real as it gets.
2.You’re building muscle – and that’s a good thing!
All those dumbbell squats aren’t just leaving you with a good burn; they’re helping you shape a beautifully fit figure. So why doesn’t the scale reflect this? According to Keith Klein, CN, CCN, “It’s really simple to understand. As you eat correctly and exercise, your muscle can increase at the same time your fat decreases. This results in a better-looking body, even though your weight doesn’t change.” Keith, who is the Owner of the Institute of Eating Management in Houston, TX, goes on to say, “To avoid being a ‘skinny-fat’ person, your goal should never be what’s on the scale. Rather, your goal should be to replace each pound of fat with a pound of muscle. If you do that, you’ll love the way you look.”
3. You have more energy throughout the day.
Before your new fitness program, did mid-day fatigue come crashing down on you like a Mack truck? Did it seem like you were always just plain tired? Fortunately, exercise and healthy eating have the reverse effect; they help you feel more energized and mentally alert. It seems contradictory, doesn’t it? How could working out – expending energy – add pep to your step? But as Lee Labrada describes in The Lean Body Promise book, “There’s a reason you feel more energetic: things are changing physiologically, and you’re generating more energy through food and exercise.” He also explains how diet and exercise are the closest things we have to the Fountain of Youth: his recommended 30-minute daily exercise sessions provide you with feel-good chemicals in your brain as well as energy and vitality. And who doesn’t want that?
4. You’re more purposeful about your nutrition.
Who wants to sweat it out in the gym for an hour, only to have that session go to waste? Nobody. So, when the waitress comes around to take your order, the New You probably doesn’t immediately gravitate to a cheeseburger and fries anymore. The New You scans for healthier, high-protein options. That’s the amazing thing about exercise. It gets you in a healthier frame of mind. And once you start eating better, your cravings for junk food decline too. Being purposeful about nutrition might not have a numerical value, but it’s a clear indicator that your mind is fitness-focused.
5. You’re sleeping better.
According to a recent poll, more than one third of older adults in the United States are taking pills to help them sleep. A simpler solution lies in regular exercise, which has the power to improve sleep quality and duration. Have you noticed this to be true? Are you dozing off quicker, snoozing longer, and sleeping more deeply than before you started working out? Amidst our busy, hyper-scheduled lives, a good night’s rest is worth more than gold. If you’ve been the lucky recipient of better sleep, you can thank your new healthier lifestyle – not the scale.
6. Your favorite clothes fit better.
Now this is the stuff worth smiling about. When you go to work each day, how many people know what your scale reads? That’s right; zero. But how many people can tell that something’s a little different about you … that you’re looking leaner and your clothes are fitting better? Probably all your colleagues. Recognition aside, isn’t it the best feeling in the world to be able to fit into a pair of jeans that used to be painfully tight? A number on a scale can’t replace the exhilaration of getting to shop for “new” clothes in your own closet.
7. You’re carrying yourself differently.
Insecurity can wreak havoc on the way we present ourselves. If we feel out of shape and self-conscious, we tend to slouch, hide in the corner, or wear big, baggy clothes so no-one will notice us. As you continue to exercise and eat better, a more confident you will emerge. You’ll stand up straighter, hold yourself higher, and dress in a more flattering style that suits your body. Since exercise also boosts your brain’s production of endorphins – your “feel-good” neurotransmitters – you may also have a more positive outlook on life in general. Embrace your new attitude and don’t give your scale weight another thought!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.