Weight is nothin’ but a number

I am so proud to hear my Mom has been working out regularly – doing a walking program teamed with water aerobics. It is such great news because she has suffered with osteoarthritis and I know her new activities will really help her joints, not to mention her waistline. However, she voiced some disappointment that the scale hasn’t moved. Coincidentally, I have two friends struggling with the same dilemma. They have significantly increased their exercise levels and started watching what they are eating, but the scale just doesn’t seem to budge. So, what gives? My simple answer – scales lie.

Now, believe me I am not advocating denial when it comes to weight management. I am the first to harp on the importance of accountability, the trouble is however, that a scale just doesn’t give the best measure of how well you are eating or exercising. In addition, while some will tell you otherwise, true weight loss never happens quickly. The type of loss, or gain for that matter, that moves the scale from day to day is more likely water loss (or retention) based on your daily fluid and sodium intake. After all, it takes a full 3500 calorie reduction in calories eaten or calories burned to lose a pound. That is no small number, so losses are bound to be slow.

The key however is that exercise builds muscle, and increasing muscle increases the number of calories you burn. But, there is a catch, muscle weighs more than fat, so as you lose fat and increase muscle there is often a point in which the scale holds steady even though you are growing leaner.

Bottom line – never tie your weight loss success to the number on a scale. Count your successes by the number of exercise sessions you participate in or healthy foods you eat, or even wether you are able to tighten your belt just a little more. As these other successes add up the scale will drop, but really, who cares.

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