You have taken the weight loss challenge, been consistent, and the scale has not moved! What is going on? You are ready to quit, you know this is good for you, but frustration is mounting; you are beginning to question the whole idea…is it a conspiracy? Why hasn’t the scale moved and why does my (insert body part here:____________) still look like that? There are a couple of reasons we do not see immediate change when we begin a weight loss program.First, weight loss is a slow, slow process. Forget the commercials claiming you’ll lose 7-15 pounds a week. If you drop a dress size that fast, that’s about how fast your dress size will come back, and you’ll probably gain a size as well. When you are trying to better your health, it is best to approach it as a lifestyle change, not just a short term goal.
As our bodies begin to adapt, it begins to change composition. As lean mass increases it does not immediately need stored energy. Fat is stored energy, think of fat as fuel. You have given your body fuel for a later date and it is holding on for as long as possible because it is smart, and your body gets twice as much energy for one gram of fat, meaning it will use all other possibilities first. It is important to remember that exercise is half the equation and you must consider diet the other half.
Simply put, the weight loss equation is: calories in, must be less than calories out. You must create a deficit if you are going to loss any fat, and you must do this over time to allow your body to used stored fat. As you begin the weight loss challenge your body begins to build lean mass. Think of lean mass as a positive – bones, blood, organs, muscle tissue, and everything that is not fat. As your lean mass increases, it needs more fuel to sustain function; therefore, as you consume a deficit in calories (food) your body will dip into stored fat as fuel. This is the point we begin to see weight loss. Consistency is the key to continued success. When losing weight ,trainers look for one to two pounds a week, this ensures it is lifestyle driving change. Your body needs time to adjust and accommodate activities, plus create balance in new patterns which support your continued health.
Exercise is a maintenance tool. You must continue to expend calories to maintain your weight. Exercise breaks down into two basic categories – cardiovascular and strength. We call cardiovascular training aerobic activity; or with oxygen. Our body performs work in different energy systems, and we want to work aerobically to burn fat. Strength training will help you build more lean mass, which will require more energy and calorie expenditure. This is what is known as raising our metabolism. Many complain as they age their metabolism drops and the weight rises. Are they as active as they used to be?
Diet is not supposed to mean deprivation. It may correspond with a current fad or book, but it should be something you can do, enjoy, and stick with. Diet simply is what you eat. If you follow portion control, eat as many whole (unprocessed) foods as possible, and variety you’ve got a good start. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie – I don’t care where it comes from – carbs, protein, or fat – it is all energy and your body will store it as extra fuel for a later date if it is given extra. So consume in moderation, give your body good food , and it will respond – no deprivation involved. Shop the outside of the grocery store – the produce, fresh meats/fish, dairy, and bakery (for whole grain breads) to help learn how to choose whole (unprocessed) foods.
Remember, your weight may go up before it comes down as you begin a weight loss program. Something that sounds too good to be true probably is, and it will take consistency over time to produce results. If you eat well you’ll feel well, and as you create a calorie deficit throughout your day your body will begin to use the fuel you’ve stored. The first step is the hardest, persevere and you’ll get there – take the first step this week.