The truth about what the scale says

K and I have had our ups and downs with our diet over the past three to four weeks. We celebrated our three-year anniversary with a weekend away to the Cape Winelands – and yes, as the name implies, it’s all about good wine, great food and gorgeous scenery. Of course, those of us who are following either healing or weight-loss diets know that ‘special occasions’ aren’t excuses to veer from our diet plans – but I will be honest with you and say that both K and I treated ourselves to our indulgences!

I for one have been embarrassingly lax with my diet, and daily I struggle with various deep-rooted food demons – but that’s not what this post is about.

The point is that, despite the occasional indulgence over the past near-month, K has been committed to eating paleo at home, at work, and most times when we go out. She’s also been exercising regularly and in just three weeks, has lost 4kg.

Now, she hasn’t been happy with this amount of weight loss, but I think it’s amazing, and here’s why:

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Let’s get one thing out the way first: some people start exercising and then increase the amount they eat – it’s the weird treadmill/McDonalds anomaly that manifests in some people’s brains. So if you are working out and gaining weight, but you’ve increased your food intake or started indulging more, this doesn’t apply to you. However, If you appear slimmer/more toned, as the lady in the picture above does, and you’re clearly getting into better shape, why does the scale stay them same, drop only a little or even increase?

There are two main reasons for this.

One, it could be water weight. You’re sweating more, so you’re drinking more water. Water weighs a lot – just ask the Biggest Loser contests, who down gallons of the stuff if they want to lose a weigh-in.

The other reason is that muscle is denser than fat, so gaining weight could mean that you’re losing fat and building muscle. The scale going up (or staying put) could indicate that your hours at the gym are paying off, if you’re not ‘phoning it in’ of course.

fat-vs-muscle

The point is, you need to consider the entire picture. If you look better, feel better and are fitting into your clothes better, your diet and exercise routine is working, regardless of what the scale says. However, if you’re bingeing and looking flabby, even though you’re working out every now and then… well, sorry, but you’re doing it wrong.

Also remember that the slower you lose weight, the better: losing weight slowly is the key to keeping it off. Quick losses usually equal quick – and bigger – gains.

This article will ring so true for many people, and it’s something I aspire to. I’m ‘skinny fat’ – relatively slim (though I never think so) but out of shape. I feel motivated by this article to take myself in hand and treat my body the way it deserves to be treated. Thanks for the inspiration, Lonni!

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