by Cécile Bayeul, RN
A lot of people, when they want to start a diet, are obsessed by the scale. However, the scale is not the most effective way to see your progress.
I will prove through this article that the scale can be one of the bigger obstacles while you try sculpting your body and I will explain to you how to keep your motivation high by giving you some examples that will prove my point.
Be careful with the scale and trust your eyes 😉
How to keep our motivation HIGH during a diet by using progress pictures :
1) When we start a diet, we can see an immediate change 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 then begins to adapt quickly to the new food, to the lowered caloric intake and the new physical exercises. All of this forces the body to start losing weight in the form of fat and excess water.
However, the weight training exercise (yes, you should be weight training if you are looking to lose fat) will make you gain muscle also. In addition, because a large part of the huge weight loss experienced for the first few weeks of dieting comes from tons of excess water weight and glycogen (excess carbohydrates), eventually you will see that you will either lose 1-2 lbs a week and at times, maybe the scale stays the same. And here is where we start losing our motivation….
2) Being psychologically ready for plateau :
Like I was saying, after the first few weeks of diet, the weight loss slows down and at times it looks like it is going nowhere.
We all think that our body just doesn’t respond as well as before to the diet. So logically, if the diet doesn’t work anymore, why continue ? THAT THOUGHT PROCESS IS WHAT MAKES US GIVE UP !!!! We start again eating crap and we kill all our work gaining twice the amount of weight. But things DO NOT NEED TO GO THIS WAY !
Here is the trick to SUCCESS :
When you reach plateau, stop to use the scale !! The scale is a very good motivator at the beginning, but it becomes a big psychological obstacle after the week goes by.
What I want you to do instead is to use progress pictures 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. You can 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.
In this manner, when the weight loss stops because you are gaining muscle at the same time that you are losing fat you will not get discouraged because you will have not only a visual aid to show you your real progress, but also concrete data in the form of body measurements.
3) The body sculpting after plateau :
When the bodyweight doesn’t move anymore, it is WHERE you will have the most progress ! The scale can even maybe go up a little. Indeed, the reason for that is because we start to build muscles. Ladies, there is no need to fear muscles !
1- Because we don’t produce the amount of testosterone that guys do, getting manly looking muscles will just not happen by accident. Thus, do not be afraid of lifting those weights. 🙂
2- Muscles will give you the nice curves you are looking for.
3- 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 the key to the fit curves you are looking to have.
Muscle Weighs More Than Fat
Something that you need to know about muscles is that they are heavier that fat ! Never forget that !!
All we have to know is 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.
What that means is 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, we can notice that the fat occupies a volume that is almost 2 times higher than the one of muscles. That explain why a fit person whose weight 130lbs can seem much thinner than an average person who weighs 120lbs.
Here is a picture that shows you the difference between a 180lbs active guy and a 170lbs inactive guy.
So don’t be frustrated if your bodyweight is not going down. Using the scale as your only tool for tracking your progress is not effective. Just look at your progress pics, take your measurements and see the curves coming 🙂
Train hard !!! 😉