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Weight Loss Versus Body Composition Change

I believe without question one of the biggest enemies you can have in a fitness and weight loss program is the bathroom scale. Sure you want to see the pounds go down but the problem is the scale won’t ever tell you the whole truth. Visit to check out the great effects of omega.

I’ve seen countless times where a client made progress with changing their body composition (body-fat/inches) but the scale didn’t move and it stirred up negative emotions that stalled progress. The objective of this post is to share with you the common pitfalls with focusing too much on the scale and shed some insight on how it can be misleading.

I’m going to give you a couple of scenarios that I regularly see, with a fictitious client name, so you can see why the scale is definitely not your friend.

Scenario #1
Judy has just got on the scale after her first week of working out. She’s confident that she’ll some weight loss since her diet has been good all week and she has completed three sessions with her trainer. Much to her demise she steps on the scale to find that she’s actually gained a pound during her first week.

What’s the first reaction you expect Judy to have now, a positive or negative emotion? A negative emotion of course. She now runs the risk of derailing progress by trying to “fix” her program by further cutting back on calories. That is unless she understands what’s happening in her body and makes a decision to stay the course.

Here’s what happened. Judy has just completed three workouts this week after previously being pretty much in-active (as far as resistance training goes). Her muscles are sore from the initial workouts. This is completely normal but here’s something she may not know.

Her muscles are sore because they’ve been broken down by the new added resistance and they’ve experienced small tears, or micro-trauma, to the muscle fibers. This results in inflammation, which is a natural part of the recovery process. Well, in order for the muscle fibers to repair themselves there will be water retention at the cellular level.

Judy has simply added water weight due to the inflammation caused by her initial workouts. She hasn’t gained body fat but the scale can’t tell the difference. The water weight gain will subside as the muscles repair and rebuild. She’s right on track but may not believe it right now.

Scenario #2
Sam has just got on the scale after his first month of working out with both resistance and cardio training. He’s made positive changes in his diet and feels confident that he’ll see significant weight loss. He steps on the scale to find he’s only lost 2 pounds. His trainer then proceeds to test his body-fat percentage and take measurements. The results are he’s lost 2% body fat and a full inch at his waist.

Should Sam be happy with only losing 2 pounds? I say he should be jubilant after seeing the facts the scale couldn’t provide.

Let’s see how Sam really did in his first month. He started at 190 lbs and 28% body fat. This means he initially had 53 lbs of body fat (190 lbs x .28) and 137 lbs of lean body mass.

After his first month he now weighs 188 lbs but has 26% body fat. This means he now has 49 lbs of body fat (188 lbs x .26) and 139 lbs of lean body mass. Did Sam only lose 2 lbs of fat? No, he actually lost 4 lbs of body fat. The other 2 lbs are likely a combination of water weight and increased muscle mass.

At the end of the day, the scale could have tricked him into thinking his progress wasn’t that great. Not true, Sam is right on track.

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Don’t fall into the trap of quick-fixes…

As you can see, the scale is a poor indicator of success in a fitness program geared for weight loss. It just can’t tell you the whole story. Fad diets, commercial weight loss programs, and other quick fixes are all geared around one thing…losing weight quickly. It doesn’t matter where the weight loss comes from as long as you lose weight. It’s no secret that most people want instant gratification and they want to see results quickly.

Here’s the fundamental problem and biggest challenge I have to overcome everyday as a fitness professional. How do I compete against the rapid weight loss that can be achieved with quick fixes? My answer is to simply share the truth.

I know after over 15 years researching fat loss what really works to lose weight and keep it off. The problem is the real solution involves time, lifestyle changes, and good old fashioned hard work. You just can’t get around it.

Lasting weight loss is only achieved when you’ve changed your body composition by adding lean muscle and increasing metabolism.

The secret to what really works…

The secret to what works has never changed. Have a personalized plan for what your body needs then just stay consistent with that plan.

Everyone is different, which is why you absolutely must focus on your individual needs. My recipe for success goes like this.

First discover what your unique calorie requirements are for your metabolism. This can be accomplished with a resting metabolic rate test. Next, look to uncover any hidden obstacles that could be keeping you from losing weight like hormonal imbalances. Drill down to find out exactly what’s going on with your body and what you need to change.

Commit to making the necessary changes with exercise and diet to meet those needs and be willing to seek outside help with hormonal imbalances if necessary. Finally, find a way to add accountability to the mix. It’s just too hard to make all these changes alone. Whether it’s with a personal trainer, your spouse, a workout partner, you just need someone to hold you accountable.

That’s the secret and I promise you it will work if you just stay the course. Are you going to lose 10 pounds in a week or see crazy fast weight loss like with the other so called solutions? No, but you will be able to lose body fat and most importantly keep it off.

We all know what happens when you stop that fad diet or other quick fix, all the weight comes back and often with a few more pounds to boot. Stop the frustration of yo-yoing back and forth and make the commitment to simply doing what it takes.

My client success stories are testimony that a personalized plan with accountability really will produce amazing results. Here’s the real kicker. Not only can you lose weight, inches, and change your body composition but you’ll also find increased energy, more strength, stamina, better health, and the list goes on. Plus you’ll have the gratification that you did it the right way.

Bottom line…

All this to tell you not to be fooled by the scale. Focus on inches and body-fat changes for a better measurement of your progress. At the end of the day you won’t need me to tell you whether or not your weight loss plan is working if you simply look at how your clothes fit.

Regardless of what the scale says, if you can get back in those favorite pair of “skinny jeans” would you be happy? Of course, so let’s focus on staying the course and not reading so much into the scale. You’ll be glad you did.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. You can receive a FREE, no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal training programs and experience the Shaping Concepts for yourself.

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Category: Fat Loss.