by Luci Gabel | Featured Contributor
You’re a businesswoman with too much to do every day.
Most likely, you’re also trying to stay healthy, at the very least, so you have have the energy for those long hours at work. And if you’re like 50 percent of most women, you’re also trying to lose weight.
I bet you don’t want to lose just any kind of weight. You want to lose body fat. And you’re using a scale to measure your progress. But, it’s not the right tool.
Some little-known facts:
If you’re healthy, especially if you exercise, you’ll have denser bones, more blood vessels, more blood in your vessels, more muscle, and more fuel stored in your muscles.
All this makes for a healthier, younger-looking you. You’ll have better hydration and more beautiful skin; reduced risk of osteoporosis; more blood and nutrients moving to your body and brain; and you’ll move with ease—protecting the independence that you love so much.
But, these healthy benefits will increase your number on the scale (just a little). We usually don’t think about this when we weigh ourselves. We simply get excited if it goes down and feel disproportionately disappointed if it stays the same (or heaven forbid, goes up). We don’t think about whether we’re hydrated or have as much bone and muscle as a twenty-year-old.
One thing we know: you can’t afford to waste your energy
You certainly don’t have energy to waste on false disappointment brought on by the scale—when it doesn’t accurately represent your progress.
Here are four better ways to evaluate your success:
- Get your body fat tested. You can do this at your local gym, a university, or with your doctor. It’s my observation that the home body fat scales have become much more accurate. All measurements have some margin of error. But, if you use the same tool each time, you’ll see whether the number is going up or down, and that’s what’s important.
- Take some pictures. If you look in the mirror every day, it’s hard to see your own physical changes taking place. Compare a current picture of yourself to one that was taken before you started your healthy lifestyle changes and it’ll be much easier to notice a difference.
- Check how your clothes are fitting. But know this: if you’re exercising, which leads to losing fat and gaining muscle, you’re going to lose mass (as fat) in some places and gain it (as muscle) in others. For example, your shirts will get baggier in the waist, but tighter around your arms. Your pants will get baggier in the waist, but tighter around your legs. You may even see your glutes (butt) filling out your pants in a different way (more rounded and firm). It is not failure or a sign that you’re not improving. Quite the opposite. This is the natural path of body change for the better.
- Pay attention to how you feel. Exercise and eating right (not starving yourself) will help you feel stronger, have more positive energy, and power your brain to work those long, demanding hours. And, if you become physically fit, you’ll have more stamina overall and sleep better too.
The scale isn’t a good measure for whether you’re getting healthier—or losing body fat.
If you make healthy choices consistently, your body will change in the way that you want, but it won’t show up on the scale in the way you expect.
I encourage you to give up the phrase “losing weight” and pick something that’s more satisfying and motivating to you. One of my clients calls it “getting sexy.” It’s not a phrase to use in the workplace but, “I’m getting healthy” can be a good start.
What phrase works for you?
Let me know in the comments.
If you need a little more evidence to convince you, watch this real-life story about how the scale completely fooled one of my clients.
Luci Gabel- MA, MBA, ACE, ACSM – Exercise Physiologist, nutritionist, content manager and owner of LuciFit, LLC.
Luci helps clients and students drop the fads, sort out the myths from reality, and understand food and fitness in a way that works for their body, and for life. She has over 20 years of experience working with a wide range of clients, from professional athletes to the business savvy woman. You can count on Luci to be your truth-teller, and your myth dispeller when it comes to mass media information about food and exercise. And she’ll always be a cheerleader on your side!