Being a part of the fitness industry, I’ve seen so many people struggle with weight loss. You can get disappointed if you think you’re losing inches not weight. There’s a nostalgia for younger days, back before kids or the dreaded Freshman 15 (25 for me!).
If you’re feeling frustrated because you’re not meeting your fitness goals, don’t worry. It can be a let down when you step on the scale. What if you’re not where you want to be, and you are losing inches but not weight?
Your fitness goals aren’t totally dependent on your weight. While physical fitness is essential, the most important thing is feeling good in your body. Losing weight can be crucial to an overall goal, but it isn’t the total sum of a fitness regime.
It’s important to say that if you feel you’re doing a load of physical activity, are eating well and think the body size to weight ratio is all wrong – that is, you’re getting thinner but not stronger – it might be a good idea to check things out with a doctor for peace of mind sake.
Benefits of Fitness in Your Life
Maybe you have an excellent reason for wanting to lose weight. Perhaps it is aesthetic; you think you would look much better in those jeans if you lost a few pounds.
You might be looking to help control diabetes, high blood pressure, or acid reflux. Or worse still, you may be fighting infertility or heart disease.
Whatever reason you have for choosing to lose those extra pounds, it’s probably a good idea if you feel you’re overweight. It isn’t always easy, especially when you’re worried that you are not losing weight although the tape measure says otherwise.
Want to get fit but don’t know where to start or can’t maintain the motivation? We have a guide and tips for getting fit in 2020.
Building Muscle Burns Fat
One of the greatest benefits of fitness is building muscle. At my age, it’s important to keep up with the strength training. Us, older women tend to lose muscle as we age. This can be one reason it is so hard to lose pounds.
You might lose inches not weight partially because our bodies WANT to have fat on them. By toning your body, you will see a better visible result.
A significant advantage of building muscle is fat control. That’s right! Having healthy, lean muscle on your body can help to burn that stubborn fat.
You burn calories to keep the body going. This is why you need a certain amount of calories a day, even if you aren’t moving. Your heart, lungs, and brain need calories to function. Muscle needs it, too. If you have more muscle than fat, your body will naturally burn more calories to maintain it.
Reasons for Weight Gain During a Weight Loss Regimen
Fat vs. Muscle
So, you’ve been in the gym. Sweating away in a cardio class or spending time on the treadmill is excellent. Maybe you’ve lost some pounds, but now you’ve seen a plateau in loss, and you’re losing inches not weight. Worse yet, you might have seen an increase!
I’m here to tell you, don’t worry. If you’ve been building muscle, your weight may not change. Muscle is denser than fat, which is great news! You will continue to lose unnecessary pounds if you keep at your fitness plan.
If you’re seeing unexplained weight gain, it might simply be water retention. Maybe you’re feeling a little swollen, your socks are cutting into your ankles, or you had to move your wedding ring up a finger. A normal, healthy person can have approximately 5 pounds added to their scale by water weight. It can cause slight swelling because water is stored between the cells and around the fat in your body.
Since it’s recommended to drink between 2.5 and 3 liters of water a day, you might also be seeing ‘stomach water’ weight. One way to combat this is to drink your water slowly throughout the day. Water is important for healthy bodily functions, so you don’t want to try to lose weight by avoiding it.
A Bit About Fat
Fat takes its time. Imagine it as a frozen stick of butter. It won’t melt into liquid if you don’t do anything to it. It needs time and heat. Just like that butter, the heat from your body exercising helps to break down fats.
In simple language, fat is stored in special areas just below your skin. When your body needs fuel, it releases cells that carry those fats to the muscles. When we work out, those fats are burned and used as energy. We burn fat, literally!
Daily Weighing: Good or Bad?
In some studies, it’s suggested that daily weighing can lead to better habits. Participants in one study weighed themselves every day. They lost almost 13 pounds more than those who weighed less frequently. This would be great news if many other studies didn’t show that daily weighings do not increase the likelihood of losing weight.
So, what’s right for you?
Personally, I like to remember the importance of your mood. In yet another study, scientists weighed participants. The researchers falsely reported the weights, saying that either no weight was lost or weight was gained. Even though they thought they were losing inches not weight, the subjects showed a significant slide into depression and a loss of self-esteem.
When you weigh yourself every day, you can see fluctuations from water weight and daily food, as well as other factors. You may see an increase of a pound or two that isn’t actually significant to your overall weight loss.
Experts from Harvard Medical School suggest that healthy weight loss should not exceed 2 pounds a week. It can be tempting to sit in the sauna for an hour after an extreme workout to try to fit into that perfect weekend dress. If you’re resorting to extreme dieting or sweating to lose pounds, you may find yourself doing more harm than good. If you lose weight very quickly, you are unlikely to keep it off.
For weight management, slow and steady is best with proper well-balanced meals and regular cardio and strength training workouts.
How to Track Your Goals
It’s easy to step on the scale. They’re easy to read and you get fast measurements. You may have a fancy model of scale that can measure your body mass index (BMI), or one that connects to your smartphone.
If you really want to know that you’re losing inches and weight in a healthy manner, you’ll need to measure your body.
Find out about and check your body fat percentage as well – unfortunately, like me, you might be disappointed with the number you have to hit to get even in the average category let alone ‘athlete’.
How to Measure Yourself
Before I became a fitness coach, I worked in retail. Helping customers has always been my passion; it’s one reason I started working at a gym. Between fittings rooms and locker rooms, I’ve taken so many measurements for people. If you’re looking for accurate dimensions to compare over your weight loss journey, take my advice.
First, find a measuring tape. Plastic will give more accurate readings, as fabric models tend to stretch. You can get more accurate readings with a friend helping, so you can stand up straight.
Stand up straight and balanced on both feet. Wrap the measuring tape around the largest part of the chest, entirely around the body. Breathe in and out a few times and find where your chest naturally falls. This is your bust measurement.
You can also measure under the chest, around the ribs. Women often gain weight around the breast area and upper back. You might lose inches here.
Repeat with any areas that you might want to record. I also recommend the waist, hips, and upper thighs.
Apps to Track Your Progress
Modern technology can be amazingly helpful. If you’re having trouble and are losing weight as well as inches, it may be because your diet and fitness regime aren’t working together. Luckily, there are many apps today that can help you track your progress and find healthy solutions to your problems.
This application can track more than just your calories. Tracking your fitness is easy with the lists of exercises. You can add in daily water goals, save your favorite recipes, and get fitness advice. Of course, the main feature is the calorie and food tracker. It’s simple to use, just scan the barcode of your food product or search for it in their library of 11 million foods.
While most calorie counting apps can help you lead a healthy lifestyle, Lifesum can be tailored to you. It has features that make it unique, like a ketogenic or macro counting diet. Lifesum also boasts a 3 Week Challenge, that provides you with easy to make recipes and exercises to get you into shape.
How do you know you’re eating a balanced diet? If I wanted to eat 1200 calories a day, I could do it all in chips and soda. It wouldn’t be much food, but I could do it. Instead, why not look at what you’re eating a different way? The MyPlate app gives you a broader look at your eating habits. It tracks not only how many calories, but the categories of veggies, meats, carbs, etc. that you eat.
It can be frustrating losing inches but seeing no weight loss. If your initial goal weight is just a few pounds away, keep at it! You may need to adjust your diet or add new exercises into your routine. There might be some water weight, or you could just be building more muscle.
The most important thing is to keep in mind how you feel. Don’t forget, exercise and fitness activities have so many other benefits. Fighting diabetes and lowering blood pressure are amazing health boosts for your body! You will also sleep better and have more energy.