I workout at least 5 times/week and eat a balanced diet that fits within my prescribed calorie range and macro distribution, so why hasn’t my weight changed in 3 whole months?
My weekly workout routine includes 3 heavy lifting sessions per week. I do one full body, one upper-body focused, and one lower-body focused hypertrophy workout per week. In addition, I do 2 cardio or HIIT sessions. My favorite workouts include Elite Bodies HIIT small group classes, a HIIT cycle class offered at the fitness facility at my job, and ASA!, a African dance fitness class.
I closely monitor and track my calorie intake. I food prep meals for the week on the weekend. And I can count on one hand how many times that I have eaten out in the last 3 months. Even when I do eat out, I track it and rarely stray far outside of my macro goals. My go-to meal when I am stuck out with few options is a kids meal from Chipotle with pinto beans, rice, fajita vegetables, and one pita bread.
In the first 30/90 days, I saw the scale drop about 5 pounds. Over the course of the next month, it appeared that I picked up about 1 pound just in time for my monthly Personal Training evaluation with Jeff. I thought that it was probably just water shifting, but over the last month, it did not appear to go away. Instead, it appears that I gained an additional 3-4 pounds with some fluctuations.
When the scale remained stagnant and then began to move in the wrong direction, I initially did not worry. I thought, your diet is tight and you are working hard in the gym, it’s fine. But I must admit, that I began to get nervous after Thanksgiving and thought, maybe I gained fat during Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving is only one day, and I got right back on track! Well, kind of,…after three days.
To make it worse, I had my evaluation with Jeff this morning, and the scale read 1 pound higher than it did at our last evaluation which was 4 weeks ago. While the scale was up, all of my measurements (abdomen, biceps, hips, arms, and waist) had decreased.
Furthermore, over the course of the last three months, I have gotten into clothes that I haven’t worn in two years. Pants that were snug three months ago are now too loose to wear. Yet my scale weight is still not where I wanted or thought it would be in three months.
After my personal training session with Jeff this morning, I headed over to Composition ID to get a follow-up DEXA scan, which I was long overdue for. I was surprised by the results. I lost 9.2 lbs. of fat and gained 8.3 lbs. of lean mass in only 12 weeks. While my scale weight remained relatively stagnant for a full three months, my body fat percent decreased by 6 percentage points, which is significant. If such results could be duplicated during the challenge period, it would result in 19.4 challenge points!
Here in lies the problem with focusing only on scale weight. Had I not paid attention to the other indicators of fat loss, I would have likely given up on my eating plan, and become less diligent about attending my personal training, cardio and HIIT sessions because, after all, it does not appear to be working. But I was tuned into more than my scale, even though worries, at time, crept in. I was tuned into how my clothing fit. I was tuned into my performance in the gym. And I also used a tape measure when I needed reassurance that I was on the right path.
When we shift our focus from scale weight to body composition shifting, we should do so with 2 goals in mind: decrease body fat while gaining muscle mass. Muscle mass retention and/or growth is desirable because muscle is what gives our body shape and firmness. Losing fat while also losing muscle does not do much to improve your body composition or your appearance, and it leads to what pop culture characterizes as skinny fat, a term that I do not like to use, but it is effective at conjuring an image of what I am attempting to explain. It is a high body fat percent on an otherwise small or slim frame.
The lower your body fat percent, regardless of your scale weight or even your body frame, the more firm and shapely your body will appear. Think about celebrities who are not “skinny”, but are strong, fit and powerful, such as Serena Williams. I challenge women, especially, to become more concerned with looking strong than looking skinny. That strong look has more to do with your body fat percent than your body frame size.
I am ecstatic about my body composition shift! Don’t get too caught up in your scale. Know when you are doing everything that you can do regarding your diet and training routine. Stick to it, even when it appears that your scale is not rewarding you.
When you think you have plateaued, check in with yourself first. Are you adhering to your Custom Nutrition Rx? Are you doing at least 3 EBJ workouts per week and supplementing with 2 additional workouts? Does your clothing fit better? If you answer yes to these questions, I would recommend that you keep doing what you are doing because it is working. If you are not following your custom macro recommendations, and you are not getting in your workouts consistently, start by improving your adherence to your goals. Lastly, if you are 100% confident that you are doing everything right and do not see other signs of fat loss, please contact Elite Bodies to schedule a follow-up DEXA. Let’s see what the data says.
If you haven’t entered the Elite Bodies 2019 Body Composition Challenge and received your Custom Nutrition Rx, contact us TODAY!!! We are excited to help you reach your body composition goals!
Challenge entry with Nutrition Rx includes: Metabolism Test ● 2 DEXA Body Composition Analysis ● Nutrition Consult ● Custom Nutrition Rx with Macro Distribution ● Access to bi-weekly group nutrition education/counseling sessions
Patricia Ellis, MS, RD