Fitness column: Comparing body composition to numbers on the scale
How many times have you gotten on the scales either at home, at the health club or in the doctor’s office?
What are the first thoughts that come through your head when you are about to get on the scale? Are all pounds equal when it comes to improving physical appearance and health?
Focus away from scales
Different people focus on different things: some on the scale, others on the difficulties of their new habits and others on old and new goals. When people focus only on the scale and don’t pay attention to their new habits and other changes, sometimes they end up dropping their weight loss program because they don’t see the scale change.
Body composition assessments
There are many ways of assessing body composition; bioelectrical impedance, hydrostatic weighing, infrared body composition analysis and skinfold are some examples.
All have different costs and some are more accurate than others. Choosing a body composition assessment method comes down to preference, availability, cost and beliefs.
My point here is to find a way to do a body composition assessment, and here are the reasons why:
results not on the scales
When some of my clients focus on the scale, they become discouraged because they see little or no change there. However, usually they tell me that their clothes fit better and are looser on the waist and shoulders.
Even though is not applicable to everyone, most are losing fat and gaining muscle, which is why they weigh the same while the body is changing to a smaller size. We, as a society, have an illusion about the scale’s results even though we are already seeing results that can be measured in other ways.
Don’t be afraid of weightlifting
Many women are afraid of weightlifting because of societal myths. I have had several clients who were afraid of getting “muscular,” but as soon as they see their body taking form and toning, their worries are gone, and they push more.
Weight loss not THE focus
The first areas that we should be focusing on are habits and lifestyle changes. Once we understand that, we need to focus on losing fat, not weight.
For some people the scale changes drastically. For others, changes are small. It all depends on the body’s fat and muscle levels and the individual’s metabolic rate. In addition, don’t forget that as we age, our bodies tend to lose muscle and gain fat.
A muscular individual may have a higher weight but less fat compared to a “healthy weight” individual. Focusing on weight loss as an indicator of improved fat loss has a similar limitation. By developing healthier living patterns, one’s body composition may change.
This may result in a loss of body fat, a slight increase in muscle mass, and a smaller waistline with little or no change in body weight. Therefore, relax if you don’t see any changes on the scale and continue changing your lifestyle.
Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale, author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently” and a Watch Fit columnist. His column appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Body & More.
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