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Exercising more but putting on weight?

If you’re slogging it out at the gym and watching what you eat but your weight isn’t budging, there may be good reason for it! When it comes to losing weight, it’s easy to place too much focus on the number that appears on the scales. However, this isn’t the only way to monitor progress and it isn’t always the best way. Here are some points that may help:

Fact: Muscle is heavier than fat

Remember that a kilo of muscle takes up less room than a kilo of fat does, and as your body adapts to your new exercise regime you’ll be gaining muscle while losing fat (which means your waistline will be decreasing even if the scales aren’t showing it). This is why the BMI method of measuring obesity is flawed – because it only takes into account your height and your weight meaning that most of the All Blacks would likely be categorised as being obese! Don’t get worried about building muscle, it’s a good thing as it will help you be stronger and burn fat faster.

Fact: Measurements are the best way to monitor progress

While BMI and checking your weight are common ways of measuring results, you should think about using them in addition to one or two other methods – or even ditch the scales completely. Get a tape measure and record your chest, waist, hips, mid-arm, mid-thigh and calf, then repeat taking your measurements around every six weeks to see if there’s any difference. From a health perspective, women should aim to have a waist measurement under 80cm which limits your risk of heart disease, so this is a good thing to aim for. Think about how your clothes are fitting and whether this is changing over time.

If you are seeing a fitness professional who is helping monitor your progress, they may be able to take measurements of your body fat using either special scales or, preferably, calipers.

Fact: Your weight fluctuates anyway

Remember that due to fluid intake, water retention, whether you are having your period and what you’ve been eating, your weight can fluctuate by a few kilos each day. When weighing yourself, try not to do it too frequently otherwise you may end up focusing too much on the number. Try to have your scales on a hard, flat, even surface – tiles etc. rather than carpet – use the same set of scales each time, and make sure that you do it at the same time of day as your last weigh in (you’ll weigh more in the evening).

Fact: You won’t achieve your goal if you quit now

Keep looking toward your end goal of how you want to look and feel and know that if you give up now, you definitely won’t achieve it. Focus on how fit and healthy you feel and whether your energy levels have improved. If you’ve starting training for the first time and your workouts/nutrition changes aren’t extremely different from your usual routine, it will likely take around the first six weeks for you to feel the difference, another six weeks for you to see the difference, and around another six weeks before other people start seeing the difference so don’t expect too much from your results straight away. Make sure your healthy eating and exercise habits are a permanent lifestyle choice, not a short term fix!

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Ambro

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