Not Losing Weight? Here Are 5 Better Ways to Figure Out if Your Exercise And Diet Plans Are Working For You
The number we see on the scale is not always the best indicator of how we're progressing when we start a new nutrition or workout plan - especially early on.
Here are 5 different (and in our opinion, better) ways that you can know if what you're doing is working for you.
"It's weird. I mean, my weight hasn't changed, but I just feel so much better."
I've heard this sentence (or variations of) from more than one client since I started on my mission to help men and women become healthier, happier and stronger in a way that works for them.
Usually, it's accompanied by a puzzled look. Happy, sure...but definitely puzzled.
To me though, it's no real surprise.
Our bodies are complex. They aren't just calorie burning machines that alter their weight instantly depending on how many chocolate chip muffins we've been eating (or avoiding).
And sometimes we can feel ourselves changing in a number of ways, but find it difficult to pinpoint or describe exactly what those changes are or how they have come about.
The trouble is, the signs of progress are often easy to miss, or even ignore, when we focus all our attention on the tiny electronic numbers in front of our feet when we hop on the scales for our weekly (or daily) weigh-ins.
It can leave us feeling pretty crushed.
I don't want that for you. Because it sucks.
When you're doing everything right and the one metric your tracking isn't changing, this whole "fitness" thing can feel like an absolute waste of time. Like alphabetising your book collection, or watching the past few seasons of The Walking Dead.
It's not a waste of your time and effort. I promise.
Still need more convincing?
Here are 5 tell-tale signs that the way you're eating moving around are working for you:
1. You look better in your clothes (and out of them...)
You put on the clothes you always wear...but today they just feel different. You can't figure it out for a while, but there all of a sudden you realise:
They fit better.
You have a little more room in your shirt (or less, if you're looking to build some muscle). Your trousers don't suffocate your legs when you sit down. Everything just feels more comfortable.
And when you take them off? You notice some positive differences there too.
Naturally, you're excited - so you run off to the bathroom to weigh yourself pronto.
Nothing has changed, You're exactly the same weight as when you started.
How the heck has this happened?
Well, if you're adding some resistance training to your workouts and increasing the amount of lean protein you're eating every day, there's a good chance you've built yourself some muscle.
You might notice a change in shape - your clothes fit better, some areas have "tightened up", and you've even lost an inch or two around the waist - but your weight stays the same (or in some cases, goes up!).
This is natural. Muscle actually does weigh more than fat by volume.
Which means that you can make great progress with your physique without losing any weight.
2.Everyday tasks feel easier
You're no longer getting wheezy when you carry your shopping to the car. You can walk up the stairs to work a little easier. Opening the lid on that jar of peanut butter? No problem.
And those tough workouts you were dragging yourself through at the start...they feel easier too.
You can squat a little deeper.
Push a little faster.
You don't trip over your own legs when your Personal Trainer makes you do that extra set of ape walks (if you know, you know).
All in all, you're stronger, more energised and 100% more bad-ass than you were when you started.
This is because your body is adapting to the training you've been doing. And if you're getting your nutrition right, you're giving it everything it needs to get stronger and more capable than ever before.
3. You no longer feel hungry all the time
You used to hear the yells of your parent/partner/friend/tiny inner diet demon:
"You've just had your dinner - you can't be hungry!!"
But you were, and you could never figure out why. You just always felt the urge to keep on eating.
Now you're finding that you feel nice and full. Not "I need to lie down right now" full - just nicely satisfied.
When we eat lots of processed food (you know, those sugary, salty, fatty snacks of loveliness we can't get enough of), our guts and our brains tell us to keep eating. This is because we aren't getting the nutrients we need (despite getting plenty of calories) so we never reach the point of satiety.
And because that kind of food is pretty much always available...
...we just keep on eating.
If your nutrition is on point then you'll hopefully be eating plenty of beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables (plus meat/fish/poultry/dairy if that's your thing). And if you're really dialled in you'll be eating slowly and stopping when you're around 80% full.
Which means your body will be able to know when it's really hungry, and when it isn't.
No more feeling like a slave to random sugar cravings at 10am - or 10pm.
4. You're Happier
No longer feel like stabbing your irritating co-worker? Suddenly reacting with zen-like chill when you find that the cat has peed on the sweater you left on the bed? Smiling more?
There could be a few physiological reasons for this:
- Eating large amounts of sugary foods has been found to be closely related to depression, this study found. Chronically elevated levels of insulin (and your body's efforts to deal with that) may cause dips in mood and "sugar crashes".
- When our omega ratios are off, our mood can worsen. Including more omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods like certain nuts, seeds and seafood can help us restore balance (a lot of people consume high levels of omega-6 through vegetable oils, hydrogenated fats and trans fats like those found in many processed foods).
- Lean protein consumption can increase tryptophan levels, which lead to an increase in serotonin, which makes us feel relaxed and happy.
Enough of the science lesson though. There are other reasons behind your new-found happiness and confidence.
You finally feel like you can do it.
You have more knowledge about food, exercise and yourself.
You walk taller, and you feel like something special is happening. In fact, this is almost starting to feel simple and straightforward...
...which brings me on to the next sign of progress.
5. It's starting to feel less like a diet and workout plan, and more like a part of normal, everyday life
Giving up things we don't like is easy. And a most of us don't actually like watching we eat and getting sweaty a whole lot (at least not at first).
Especially when we go in with a temporary "I'll do this for a little while" kind of attitude.
When we think of diets and workouts, we tend to think of all or nothing.
We either live on organic kale and lemon water, or we go back to our normal eating habits (that pizza delivery number is never difficult to find).
We either put ourselves through long, boring workouts at the gym...or we stay on the sofa and binge on the latest show Netflix has recommended to us.
But if you can avoid the all or nothing mentality, and just focus on getting better bit by bit?
You might find that this health and fitness stuff just starts to slot into everyday life.
You start to choose the side salad instead of the fries without agonising over what's "good" or "bad".
You find a way to fit in a 10-minute home workout when your busy schedule makes a 1-hour trip to the gym impossible.
You no longer feel like a failure every time you eat a cookie, because it's something you chose as part of an enjoyable life - a life that you feel in control of. You enjoy it, smile, and go back to eating plenty of fresh, whole foods at your next meal, just like normal.
Because it's actually normal now.
You got this.
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