As much as we wish it were, weight-loss is not linear. A person’s weight fluctuates on a daily basis and these fluctuations can be emotionally devastating to someone that follows a strict eating plan, and of course, expects to reap the fruit of his or her efforts.
The reality is your weight-loss journey will most probably look something like this:
Your weight on the scale can fluctuate quite a bit, but when it goes up it does not mean you have gained fat. A scale ONLY measures total body weight- this weight includes muscle mass, skeletal mass, water retention and the amount of faecal matter in the colon.
Other factors like a woman’s menstrual cycle and even lack of good quality sleep can affect your weight on the scale.
For this reason, we need other tools to measure progress like before & after photos, body fat percentage, body measurements with a measuring tape, or even just evaluating how your favourite pair of denims fit that you haven’t been able to wear in the past 3 years!
The last 5-10kg are usually harder to lose than the first 5-10kg. When you have less fat to lose your body fights fat loss harder than it did initially. This means that as you get closer to your goal weight you will have to be MORE consistent and work even HARDER and the concurrent results will still be less dramatic than what it was initially.
That is why fat loss is such an up-and-down journey. Knowing what to expect in advance should help you set realistic weight goals within a realistic time frame.
Somewhere in your weight-loss journey, you will hit a plateau and this is where so many people throw in the towel. Let’s say you lose 2kg per week for the first month, then you lose 1 ½ kg week 5 and again in week 6, then suddenly you lose ZERO weight the next week… Did you do something wrong? Should you drastically start restricting your kilojoule intake?
Should you start exercising more? No, no and no!! This plateau does NOT mean you are not progressing; it most likely means you need to take a deep breath and relax!
There will be weeks that nothing seems to be happening, but there will also be weeks that you won’t even have to try that hard and suddenly almost by magic the scale just starts dropping again.
The reason for this is the difference between fat volume and muscle volume:
On a scale, one kilogram of muscle is going to weigh the same as one kilogram of fat. BUT while one kilogram of fat and one kilogram of muscle weigh the same, their composition varies. Muscle is denser than fat which means it occupies less space compared to fat. Two people could weigh the same but could look very different due to their differing fat percentages.
It is thus important not to become fixated on the scale: focus more on how you look and feel!
This is all part of the journey: strive for progress and not perfection, because sometimes we just need to be patient and let it happen. Most importantly is to not define your success or failure simply by what the numbers are telling you.
Progress will not move in a straight line, but the results will come over time…