I’m Exercising but I’m not Losing Weight, What Gives???

As personal trainers we hear this statement quite a bit especially a month or so into someone’s lifestyle change:

“I’m working out 5 days a week and I’m not seeing a change at all, What gives?”

It’s definitely not a surprise, nor is the person unique in their struggle but I wanted to address the reasons behind this phenomenon and also to suggest that you throw out your scales!

So here’s some reasons why weight is not the best indicator:

1) Weight Measures EVERYTHING! Fat, bones, organs, muscles, food, water.  When we start working out, there is a lot of water retention, inflammation, and increase in muscle density; this leads to potentially a lack of weight change.  You are however loosing body fat, so that’s still good!  A better metric would be metrics body fat percentage, and tape measurements.

2) Weight Does not measure the change that happens in your body.  If your nutrition is dialled in, your are doing a combination of cardio and weights  or functional training, you are loosing fat but the scale will not reflect it.

3) Weight does not necessarily reflect health!  I recently had a client make this exact comment, and then he went for his first 5km run since he started training; he blasted his time and how he felt after a run.  Enough said, he’s healthier.

4) Weight is not a positive motivator.  Your weight can fluctuate up to 10 pounds during the day!  So how accurate is that scale?  It could just be an off day!

So now that you’re about to throw your scale out like a bad relationship, and you’re sitting in the middle of the room rocking back and forth not knowing what to trust; here’s what we should be relying on as proper metrics:

1) Body Composition:

a) Get some measurements done: the tape gives a more realistic view of how your body is changing.

b) Body fat percentage: I usually recommend that someone get this professionally tested since those impedance meters and fat measuring scales are quite inaccurate. We want to see this number decrease because of the link between fat retained around the stomach and waist and cardiac issues.

2) Use your clothes as a good metric!  Do they fit more loosely or differently?

3) Set Performance Goals!  A lot of our members at Blitz Conditioning love using our HIIT classes as a metric of their fitness levels.  I can’t lie, they are hard even for me!  But as people get stronger both cardiovascularly and muscularly, they’re able to last through the whole workout.  You can set a fitness goal like Brett was talking about with Meike.

Remember that weight loss is multi-factorial!   Let’s concentrate on the bigger goals of and make health a lifestyle!

About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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