Recently I began a “hardcore” strength training program to push myself and mix things up. I’m on the fifth week of this program, and I feel stronger than ever. I’m lifting weights as my warm-up that used to be my max. I am almost puking each time because of how challenging the workouts are. I’m doing HIIT cardio 2-3 times a day, on average. I’m slowly cutting calories as the program continues in order to get “ripped”… but, there’s one thing. I still feel “fat”. Why?!
The dreaded scale. This, my friends, can be the one thing that makes a person go from feeling great to awful real quick. As I’ve continued this program, I have noticed the scale slowly inching up, even as my calories go down and baby abs come in. I am also noticing some quad and glute growth, so my shorts from last summer feel a little snug, if that makes sense.
So what do you do when you’re feeling amazing in the gym as far as your goals are concerned, but then feel down when you look at the scale?
MEASUREMENTS. That’s what. Remember, muscle does NOT weigh more than fat (a pound is a pound dang it!)… rather, as your body composition changes and you do grow more muscle, you may put on some weight due to muscle hypertrophy- but really the only way to be sure is by taking measurements and tracking body fat percentage.
If the scale is the same or even slightly up but all of your measurements go down in inches, then you are leaning out, fat cells are shrinking, and muscles are growing (they are leaner than fat cells hence the measurements going down)…
If the scale is the same/slightly up and your inches are all slightly up, then your fat cells are growing…
Does this make sense?
I also use my Omron Body Fat % Reader, but it’s not the most accurate thing (especially compared to the calipers) because it’s a machine, so I take it as a grain of salt.
My measurements this week showed that I am down a little bit all over, which means my fat cells are shrinking and my muscles are growing. The only areas this doesn’t seem to apply to are my quads and glutes, which are slightly up, and I am okay with because as I flex them, they are clearly more muscular and defined.
SO my main point is that I would feel like shit about myself if I just simply went off the scale. You’ve heard this a thousand times, and I preach this to clients on the daily, but something about seeing the scale go up is a “scary” thing, even for myself. I just have to practice what I preach and remember that the scale is not everything!!!
I am stronger, feel happier, and have growing muscles, so why am I going to let the scale define my happiness?
**I am writing an entire post on this topic because of something I struggle with called Body Dysmorphia, which some of you may struggle with too. It’s where my brain tells me I look a certain way, when in reality it may not even be close to accurate. When I see the scale go up, my brain tells me that this is all fat and that I am fat, even though this may not be true. It’s a disconnect between what my eyes see & brain processes, and what is really there. I know I struggle with these issues sporadically, so that is also why measurements are so important to me. It puts my brain in check and personally, it kind of brings me back to reality. For some, I know measuring frequently can be detrimental because of becoming obsessed with them.
This is a challenging issue to overcome, but there are ways to cope with body dysmorphia and to learn to truly love yourself. Just don’t give up, and do not let the scale run your life.
Welcome! I’m Jess Hutchens. This is my fitness, nutrition, and mindset blog where you will find tips for lifelong wellness success!