Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Don’t Be a Slave to the Scale

Recently, a couple of my friends commented that I look like I’ve lost some weight. But, when I stepped on the scale I still weighed pretty much what I’ve weighed for the past two years (give or take a couple of pounds here and there along the way). I tried to think about what I’m doing differently now than from the past that would make my friends think I look so much different when clearly the scale begs to differ. Funny enough, I eat more calories per day now than I did a year ago and I workout the same amount of days. So what HAS changed? I’ve focused more on my strength training, I eat protein at every meal and strive to get about 60 grams a day, and I continue to up the intensity (but, not the time) of my cardio sessions. So while I haven’t lost weight, I look leaner because I’ve swapped fat for muscle. It just goes to show you that sometimes the numbers on the scale don’t tell the whole truth. Don’t get me wrong, the scale is still a great indicator of your overall health. You should certainly utilize it to keep yourself on track, making sure that you aren’t gaining or losing large quantities of weight too quickly (both can be dangerous). But, when you’re at a healthy weight and you still think you need to lose five pounds, you may want to rethink your mindset. Instead of worrying about the numbers on the scale and focusing on completing more and longer cardio sessions, shift your focus to your strength training and protein intake. I guarantee that if you focus on eating approximately 20-40 grams of protein (20-25 for women, 35-40 for men) at every meal, eat frequently throughout the day, and spend more time on your strength training each week, you’ll look leaner and more toned! While strength training maybe doesn't burn as many calories as cardio, strength training does increase your metabolic rate more than cardio does post-workout so that you continue to burn calories for a couple hours after your workout. So don’t get stuck on the numbers on the scale. If you focus on incorporating more strength training and protein into your routine, you’ll see results!

While I'm on this topic, let me say one more thing about the scale. There is no need to weigh yourself more than once a week. If you weigh yourself every day, throughout the day you're going to drive yourself crazy because your body's weight naturally fluctuates. To stay on track, weigh yourself once a week at the same day and time, using the same scale each time. Preferably, you should weigh yourself first thing in the morning when you're naked. Weighing yourself once a week is plenty to monitor your progress accurately.