Why the number on the scale is not as important as you think


So many of us go on diets and intense exercise plans to lose weight and then get frustrated when nothing changes on the scales. We often lose inches instead, but for many of us this doesn’t seem quite as satisfactory. So why is it that we can lose inches but not weight?

One theory is that our bodies have a favourite weight that it functions most efficiently at. It can mean that instead of dropping more pounds, it will just adjust components of mass to keep within a certain ‘set point’, and that’s when you'll see a change in inches rather than pounds.

Likewise, if you start strength training, your muscles will grow and you could actually gain weight. However, you will probably be losing fat, so while your weight will stay the same, your body-fat ratio will have improved and you should be able to see a physical change in your appearance as you become more toned.

They key to stopping the stress about how much you weigh is changing your mindset. Instead of focusing on weight loss, think about slimming down. It might not sound much, but a change in terminology can really help keep you motivated as you continue with your healthy eating and exercise, because slimming down doesn’t always mean losing weight. After all, you don’t walk around with a neon light flashing your weight above your head, but losing a few inches from areas of your body is something tangible that people can actually see.

It’s worth remembering that the weight you see on your scales accounts for your bones and organs as well as any water in the body, so it’s not just fat. It also doesn’t tell you how much of that weight is muscle and how much is fat. This makes body composition crucial, as you can really understand what’s going on and figure out which areas you still need to work on. So while you shouldn’t ditch the scales completely, use them alongside a tape measure to document your inches. Setting performance goals is another way to acknowledge improvements in your health and fitness. Try aiming for a certain amount of reps or running/cycling/walking a certain distance in a set amount of time.

Shifting your focus like this can really take the stress out of the situation and actually allow you to appreciate your achievements.

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