You’re on a weight loss program and you’re following it to a tee. You’re drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, eating what you’re supposed to and even doing some light exercise. You are weighing every day and then suddenly the scale stops moving. For a week, it doesn’t seem to vary but a few ounces. You begin to feel discouraged and let it get you down and you may even decide you hate your scale and want to stop stepping on it each day. So, what in the world is happening? Before you throw out the scale and give up, let’s dive into this.
I have multiple patients I see that experience this and feel so frustrated. I confess that I, too, have experienced this. I too hated weighing every day. I felt it made me discouraged and obsessed about the number on the scale. I didn’t want to do what my coach said and keep weighing each morning. I spoke to my coach, and he would always say, “Stay the Course”! He would also tell me how important my mindset was. But I didn’t want to hear that! I felt sure he was wrong, and he just couldn’t possibly understand. I just knew if I kept having to get on that scale that I was going to get depressed. How could he think it was my mindset? I’m laughing now as I read that. You can clearly see that I did have a negative mindset. I’m a rule follower so I am determined to follow the plan and keep weighing. I got up the next day and weighed, but if I had to weigh myself each morning, I was going to do whatever was possible to make that number go as low as possible. I’d weigh with no clothes on, even take off my glasses. The plan called for me to use the restroom and weigh myself first thing, then begin drinking my water and I could indulge in my first yummy cup of coffee. I quickly noticed that if I hadn’t had a bowel movement then my weight would be higher. Naturally, I wanted to wait until I had gone to the restroom before I weighed. That meant no water, no coffee either, until I had gone. That began to turn into a waiting game. Everything in my morning and my whole day depended on that darn bowel movement. I was frustrated and gripey. I was working at the time and I noticed it was taking longer and longer to have a bowel movement and next thing I know, I was running late to work. That’s when my moment of clarity came. I could no longer put off drinking my water, drinking AND enjoying my morning coffee and having a quiet time or doing something positive for my mindset. I mean, my thinking was already stinking! What kind of mindset was this anyway? Well, not a very good one and certainly not a positive one. That’s when I said ENOUGH! I told myself that the number on the scale was NOT going to make or break my day. I was not going to let a number define me or dictate how my day would go. I decided I
I didn’t care what that number said, I was doing what I was supposed to do, and I was going to simply view it as another way of measuring what was happening in my body. That was a big day for me and my mindset. It changed my mornings, my days, and more importantly, my mindset. I kept weighing and documenting the number but then I went on my merry way and started my day. I also started trying on my clothes that I had been saving to wear when I lost weight and I noticed that every week to two weeks they were getting looser and looser. I was ecstatic but I couldn’t understand how I was losing inches and yet the number on the scale was just not moving. When I say it wasn’t moving, I mean it took about two months before I saw anywhere from one or two pounds to move down on the scale. I could have been so easily frustrated and felt like giving up, but I did indeed trust the process and stay the course. I began to do some research and find out what was going on inside my body as well as looking at my Body Composition Analysis (BCA). I noticed on my BCA that my body fat percentage and my visceral fat was going down. That was so interesting to me. Also, as I said, my clothes were looser. What I found out was very interesting. In the program that we coach, Activate Metabolics, it focuses on helping kickstart your metabolism and helping you burn stored fat. This is key. Most weight loss plans help you lose subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat that’s directly under your skin. It’s the fat that you can easily pinch most anywhere on your body. When you lose a lot of subcutaneous fat you will notice skin sagging. Visceral fat is the fat found in your abdominal area. It’s the fat that surrounds your organs. It can be measured using a BCA and you can usually be certain you have visceral fat if you have a large waist or abdomen. Visceral fat is the more dangerous of the two because it causes inflammation and causes your internal organs to work harder. I’m not going to go in depth here, I just wanted to give very basic definitions of the two. As you begin to lose visceral fat, you will also begin to lose inches. It’s so much more important to focus on losing visceral fat because it’s the fat that causes all the bad stuff, aka high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, etc. I think we are just used to or trained to look at the number on the scale as the end all/be all judge of our health or our success in losing weight. While in the end, that number will come down as we lose fat and inches, it should be viewed as just another measurement in our weight loss journey.
Let’s dig a little deeper. When you go on a weight loss program, your goals may range from wanting to look better in your clothes to better health. While those goals are an entirely different article I could write about, the bottom line is you want to lose weight. Losing weight may look like different things to different people. Usually, you mean that you want to get slimmer, thinner, or smaller. Pick an adjective but getting slimmer or thinner doesn’t always mean you will see a significant weight loss on the scale. It is possible to lose body fat and inches, as I said earlier, but your weight may stay pretty much the same after a possible big loss at the beginning. We almost always lose water weight and some inflammation at the beginning of a big change like you have in the eating plan with Activate. After that initial fat loading day where it kick-starts your metabolism, you will begin to burn stored fat. The number on the scale may not move as much also because you may gain some muscle weight as you lose body fat. Let’s take someone who lifts weight like a bodybuilder. They may weigh a LOT but it’s more muscle than fat.
That’s why it’s important to know how much of your weight is from body fat, water percentage, and visceral fat. A BCA tells you all of that and that’s why that is a very important tool that we use with every visit. We will monitor your progress and measure you each month to help you see the inches lost as well as the other data. Let your clothing be your guide to success. See the number on the scale, the information on the BCA, and inches lost as all important tools that tell you how you are doing on your weight loss journey. They are all important. But looking at all the information in numbers and data, etc., the MOST important tool you have is your mindset. If you say to yourself when you weigh, well that’s great but it probably won’t stay, or I’m always constipated, or any number of negative things, you are setting yourself up for those things to stay that way or go the way you’re thinking. Breathe deeply, enjoy the journey, and trust the process. Trust yourself and your body. You didn’t put the weight on overnight and you won’t get it off overnight. It’s a process, and you’re worth the effort and self-care that you are putting into the program.