I have been walking for two months 5-6 times a week. I have watched my diet- low carbs, low sugar, plenty of veggies, low caffine and alcohol and consume plenty of good fluids, yet each month brought 3 pounds of weight gain. Yes I look better and the clothes fit looser, but what gives with the scale. I am in my upper thirties and gave birth twice- but come on why is the scale going up? It could at least plato-no? If it is muscle gain will the scale eventually be my friend again? I was under the impression that muscle helps you burn more fat. My diet has been constant ( I have been watching it for the longest time) and I have tried starving myself in my twenties. So what am I supposed to do? Help me anyone before I give up on exersice for good. I do take suppliments for metabolistic boosting and water retention. What else is there left to do?
If you have been building muscle, it stands to reason that you would be gaining weight. Simply put, muscle weighs more than fat. You should not be focusing the number on the scale, but the fact that you "look better" and your clothes are looser. You are developing a more fit body, which is the most important thing.
To lose weight, you simply need to create a calorie deficit. To lose 1 pound, you need to create a deficit of 3500 calories, or 500 calories per day for a week.
I have struggled with the same type of thing. Although I have lost weight overall, it tends to go up and down sometimes. The last post suggested a "calorie deficit". I just found a nutrition and exercise tool on mypyramid.com. It is kind of cluncky, but it gives you an idea of caloric intake versus energy expended. I'm going to try it and see if it works.
Ok, muscle weighs more than fat. Some say it weighs the same but takes up less space. Overall doesn't muscle help you burn more fat that just dieting? So if I am watching my caloric intake the same as when I took a break from exercise this spring (I lost weight then), then why is the scale going up? It should at least plato-no? I should be burning more calories than before because the diet has not changed! What gives exactly?
Can anyone tell me for certain that the weight will start to come off if I plug away and continue to do all the right things month after month? Is it a lost cause where the scale is concerned? I am happy that my clothes fit better and others do notice my supposed weight loss, but doggone it I would love for the scale to work in my favor some day!
Don't worry so much on the scale number, it is utterly meaningless, even though our country is fixated on such a irrelevent number. What matters is the BODY FAT % number, in my opinion. As a trainer, I explain this often and clarify things up for the mighty numbers of people who are fixated on scale weight alone.
Get your bodyfat checked.
Find out if you're in the healthy range or not.
If you're in a healthy range, then DON'T WORRY about the scale every time you step on it. Like you have mentioned, you are fitting better in clothes and feeling better too. No scale can determine that but yourself!
If you're not in a healthy range, you then use the scale weight as your baseline measurement in determining your bodyfat % in the future. Here's an example:
Male, 28 years old, 175 pounds, 10% bodyfat.
17.5 lbs of his 175 is body fat, the rest is lean body mass.
Now, this male is classified as excellent in his BF% rating. If he gains 3 pounds, its nothing huge in terms of his health. Another bf% test could be done to see how much of the 3 pound gain is muscle or body fat. Even if its 3 lbs of fat, guess what, he's still in the excellent rating! No big worries there, but in our society, a 3 pound gain in weight is considered like a moral crime or something. Don't worry about it!
Just don't get so caught up on a scale number when there are other figures and %'s that tell you so much more.
Until our country's mindset starts turning into more of a body fat % focus instead of just the bodyweight-only focus, there will continue to be this kind of frustration existing and people worrying about something that isn't a big deal.
Rick Karboviak, CSCS
Ok body mass index is in deed important. The one question that I cannot seem to get an honest answer to is will the scale ever stop going up and eventually turn around? Would it help to cut back on my walking? Is it possible to exercise too much? I have been regulating what I have been eating for the longest time. I figured that increased exercise would then get the fat burning all the more. Am I even burning the fat by adding muscle? Am I forever stuck at a weight that seems wrong 169 at 5'6". In the spring I was 159 doing Atkin's and some exercise. Now with eating right and 5-6 days a week of working out I have gained 10 pounds. This has depressed me to the point of wanting to give up. I need to know if things will regulate where the scale is concerned. It is hard to wrap my brain around my clothes fitting better and people telling me that I look as though I lost weight when I have experienced a ten pound fluctuation in one season. I need some hope fast! The scale is not important I have been told, but I am having trouble convincing myself of that. More to the point I feel humiliated with the compliments because of the weight gain. What do I say thanks, Yeah I in fact gained ten pounds. It just doesn't seem to fit. I know being in my upper thirties and having children are factors in my metabolism, but gee wiz a 10 pound gain after trying so hard?
The whole "muscle burns fat" mantra that health clubs, trainers, and television bombard us with is true, but not as dramatic as they make it seem. Yes, improving your body composition (increase muscle mass, decrease fat mass) will increase your exercise metabolism greatly, but only increases basal (resting) metabolism slightly. What this means is that if you want to reap the fat burning benefits of muscle you need to move. Also, as you become fitter, walking won't be enough, you'll have to speed up the pace eventually or you'll plateau. Why do you think bodybuilders do cardio? When I started training seriously, I actually gained weight. I started training at 128lbs wearing a 30 waist (I've been really thin most of my life), and now my training weight is 146lbs and I wear a 29 waist because I can't find 28's in men's clothing. I'd say that as long as your clothes are fitting better and you look better, who cares what the scale says.
I no exactly what you are talking about. I too gained weight when I started to exercise (bike riding). In my opinion, it is not always a simple matter of calories in versus calories used. Other factors that determine weight gain or loss involve what you eat, when you eat, how often you eat, what sort of exercise you do, when do you exercise, how often, and what pattern of exercise you do. You mentioned in one of your posts that at one time you were "starving" yourself. I have found, for me, that when I "starve" myself, my body will do its best to store energy for future use because it thinks that food is scarce. So, I had to learn to eat throughout the day to teach my body that food was plentiful. Then, I varied my exercise routine in that some days were devoted to fast workouts, some were devoted to recovery (going slow), and some were devoted to long slow workouts. When I included the long workouts of 2 to 3 hours once per week together with 5 to 6 small meals per day, that is when the weight began to come off. Do not give up! Being consistent is one the most important ingredients in a weight loss program. Also, some of the other posters mentioned how irrelevant a scale is and I agree ? I threw mine away and just use how my clothes fit and how I feel to determine changes in my body. I hope this helps.
Once again, don't worry on the scale! Our country is so obsessed with charts and garbage on dropping a scale weight, as if that is the only proof of health. Remember, its Body Fat Percentage, that tells you the whole story. Don't confuse that with Body Mass Index, either, as that is a total garbage number in some aspects, too. (It is merely a calculation based on body height and weight, there is NO consideration on body composition of you with a BMI rating!)
Go to www.nsca-lift.org and see their latest press release on Body Mass Index and how much of a garbage number it can be.
What I can't figure out is how you are disappointed with a weight number, when you are feeling better and fitting better in your clothes, and others are complementing you on it! Focus on those comments, not on the scale!
Just trying to help you out a bit in realizing a bigger picture here and NOT on the scale. Toss that baby if you need to.
Rick Karboviak, CSCS
to answer your foremost question: YES, the scale will turn in your favor again.
I would recommend to stop taking any boosters and water retention and all other pills, though. The slimness effect they cause is strictly on your wallet, not on your body.
Forget that muscle burns more fat. That is marginal (see prior posts on topic).
Also here some explanation as to why the effect you are describing happens:
A little bit simplified, the situation is like this:
A Kilogram of Fat contains 9000 calories, a kilogram of muscle (protein) 4000.
When you start training, you will build up muscle and burn energy (loose fat) simultaneously. But: If you exchange 1 kg of fat for 1 kg of muscle, you still burned 5000 calories.
This is why with hard training, a net loss of calories you still gain weight on the scale (while looking and feeling better, nevertheless).
However, if you stick to cardio workout, the muscle gain effect will eventually level off, then you will only burn fat, and the scale will in the long run be your friend again (although I totally agree to the previous posts, that this is not really important).
My advise: Send the scale on holiday for 3 months!
Obviously you are more concerned about the number on the scale than you are about looking good or feeling fit. So far, several posts have tried to convince you that the numbers don't matter. If you want to fixate on the numbers, than you need to work out more and harder. You need to expend way more energy than you take in, if you truly want to lose weight. If the numbers are that important to you, go back on Atkins.
Thank you to those who answered my questions. The bottom line is that I thought I was doing something wrong. I only check the scale once a month to have a sort of reference point as to where all of "this" is going.
A little background to fill you in is that I have had to loose weight more than a few times and each time it has been harder to get back to the "beginning".
I was undergoing fertility treatments in my mid twenties and saw the weight go up. I got it under control and adopted my daughter. Then I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease (cancer) in 1998. The scale went wild once more.
I went too far after treatments and was borderline anorexic. I was having control issues you might say.
Then I became pregnant in 2000 and had my daughter (9 and a half pounds) in 2001. I never got back to "normal" after that.
Then my son was born in 2004 (9 and a half pounds three weeks early).
So this time I was going to finally have time to get back to somewhere near where I was now that I am in my late thirties and done with child-birth.
I also wanted to do everything by the book!
So one can understand my frustration that things didn't seem to be going in my favor when playing by the rules.
Having my main question answered has saved my enthusiasm! I will keep trudging along. I know my metabolism, and body for that matter will never be what it once was, but now I know there is hope.
I am in fact doing the right thing. The lectures about the scale are somewhat helpful, but they can come across as a little condescending.
I am passed the days of being offended and just happy to be here and able to communicate with others. The comments overall were made to be helpful and I am thankful to all. Mostly thank you to the straight shooters who answered my most important questions, and answered them while keeping my dignity in mind.
I will keep those who care posted as to whether the scale will indeed turn in my favor once again. The number is irrelevant I know, but the downward direction of the scale would make me happy.
I am happy with the compliments by the way. It is mainly a psychological battle for me now. Now that I am armed with a logical explanation I will continue my routine.
Hi Dunnagain! I know what you mean, about fixating on numbers and wanting to do things by the book. I'm the same way. As I was reading through all the posts, I was formulating comments, but most of them were addressed. I'm 46 and have had 2 babies, have managed to run or bike fairly steadily for 25 years. I was once overweight. I agree that if you create a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. Take a hard look at your calories in/calories out. Are you walking briskly enough nd burning enough calories weekly? Do you keep a food journal? Maybe you THINK you are not consuming that many calories, but if you write everything down you will really see what you are consuming. Troublesome at first, maybe, but then it eventually becomes ingrained habit. You didn't mention weight training, but all the personal trainers I talk to and read, recommend the cardio/weight-training combo for optimal results. Get some 5, 8, & 10# free weights and a good book or website on lifting (or a mag like Muscle and Fitness Hers or Shape or Fitness), and supplement your walking with weight workouts 3 days a week. You'll see muscle definition within a few weeks which will give you a psychological boost and help with that resting metabolic rate. I think the advice on several smaller meals a day is excellent advice; it's the way I eat. That practice is supposed to elevate metabolism slightly because the act of digestion itself consumes fuel, and you won't have between-meal hunger. I don't understand what water retention pills do, but it seems to me that retaining water is going to add a pound or two, just like the menses you are building up each month which give that extra tummy bulge and extra couple of pounds until the flow starts (I HATE that time of month; I FEEL so FAT!) Funny thing, while cleaning the bathroom several months ago I accidentally dropped my 15-year old elec. scale and it began malfunctioning so I threw it out. I simply haven't gotten around to buying another, and I don't miss it. I'm a fan of jeans which fit like a glove, and I use that as my benchmark. I also agree that if you must peek at the scale, you are bound to see the number go south if you burn more than you eat. Give yourself a big pat on the back because you have the will and the tenacity to pursue this. A lot of people talk about taking better care of themselves, but never seem to get around to changing habits. You are a member of an elite club.
It is so nice to hear from a woman. I enjoyed reading your entry. I do make sure that I watch my caloric intake and I too eat 5-6 small meals per day. I made sure that I kept the same eating habits so that I could use that as a constant to see if adding more exercise would help me to loose weight. I have apparently lost inches according to the way my clothes fit. I did have two C-sections however and gigantic babies so that part of me is forever altered. The clothes of "today" are fitting looser.
I have also taken the advice to add more cardio. I own a Nordic Trac and a tread mill. Since the time of day I "get" to exercise is rather early my walking days are over do to darkness. So I have been doing some Nordic Trac and some fast walking tread mill. I also have a sit up device that I have gotten back to using. My mid-section has been through the wringer, but I am trying to rebuild what muscles I still have down there.
Weights (hand held) sounds like a good idea. At one point I was doing that and now I don't even know where they are. The kids tend to "borrow" my stuff if you know what I mean.
Anyway thank you for writing. I like getting encouragement from my peers.
I am heading into "that time of the month" at the end of the week. I always wait till that storm is over before I check in with my friend the scale. The water retention pills did help me. The section of my abdomen above my stomach used to stick out as far as my remaining bulge otherwise known as my stomach. I purchased them because I noticed that I would weigh three pounds heavier in the morning and after peeing a bunch throughout the day the scale would be three pounds lighter. I always thought one weighed less in the morning than at night. That is why I always used to weigh myself in the morning. I was really confused with this new phenomenon. I took the pills for about a month and the upper part of my abdomen went down considerably and has stayed down. I now keep them around for "that time" because it helps with PMS.
My metabolism has slowed so I have been trying the supplements to help regulate my blood sugar. That too helps with cravings as well as PMS. As for it actually boosting my metabolism or affecting my weight loss remains to be seen.
I will keep you posted as to whether my friend the scale turns south or not. I have made my target weight 10 pounds higher with every decade. I would just love to get somewhere in that vicinity while still in my thirties. If not I will be right on target for my 40s!
I was just doing a search online for this exact topic and found this website! I too am gaining & gaining, I have been a walker for about a year now, doing about 4 miles a day at a fast pace. I just added jogging a month ago and am doing very well and gaining my endurance, but the scale is going up up up. Granted I haven't changed my diet , but we eat healthy to begin with and I have cut out all of my night time snacking for months now (a bad habit for a long time) I too want to lose weight and according to my BMI I am just within healthy limits but I want to go down about 15 lbs.., not up 5! BUT like the trainer said in the previous post my clothes are fitting better and even getting into some I couldn't just 2 months ago. Also my measurements I just started taking to hopefully relieve some of my scale anxiety.., actually my plan is to eliminate the scale weigh ins for a while and just measure..., maybe you could start a measuring journal along with your weigh ins and at least if you see inches come off it may help your mindset? Don't give up walking!! I know I am getting stronger and building muscle.., I also added in reps of situps and crunches so that may be why my personal weight gain too..., Good luck and don't give up!!