Do you ever fantasize about hitting a particular number on the scale? Maybe you even think your life would dramatically change and your self-esteem would skyrocket!
Now, have you ever come so close and yet…..you still didn’t look the way you imagined? Somehow you were still looking at a very similar image staring back at you in the mirror?
But how could that be? You’d just lost 20lbs or more, am I right?
This is a very common thought process and while I will preface this by saying, there are many reasons why some people feel this way. What I want to share with you, is the most common factor I’ve seen during my 10 years of experience helping women get healthy, balance their hormones and drop excess weight.
The reason is this:
It’s not the number on the scale you want, it’s a particular body composition!
I’m not crazy about posting this picture and it’s not because of my pale skin, or my wet hair, or the fact that I’m wearing zero makeup. Whatever, I don’t try to be perfect with you, my goal is to be real.
The reason it’s hard for me to post is because it’s so extremely frustrating to work so hard at staying fit and eating well, only to have lost SO much muscle after a short two months of being unable to continue my usual workouts due to an injury.
That’s right, I know many of you are afraid of putting on muscle because you’re afraid it could make you look “bulky” but I can tell you the opposite is true! The pictures don’t lie!
So let’s break these pictures down.
The first was taken on my 39th birthday this past July 2015 when I was fit and feeling fantastic. I had been doing regular Hiit (high-intensity interval training) workouts 4x a week coupled with sprinting during the occasional 5km run.
My nutrition was very similar in both photos. I didn’t make a conscious effort to cut back in an attempt to compensate for the change in activity when I was injured. I just listen to my body’s natural hunger cues. Many people asked if I was afraid of gaining weight due to my injury. I wasn’t because that’s all dependent on nutrition. But I knew my body composition would suffer.
The second was taken today, almost 9 weeks after a rollerblading accident on September 1st, when I broke my wrist in two places and was not allowed to do any kind of exercise for 3 weeks and even thereafter, I had to make a huge change in my exercise routine. At around the 3-4 week mark, I started doing some spinning classes, some core work and some lower body weights on machines. But the truth is, I hated it. Such a chore to do something you don’t like. I missed my Hiit workouts SO much. I literally had to drag myself to the gym. It just felt like I wasn’t really getting in a “good” workout. So while I did continue working out, it was *maybe* 3x a week max and only over the last few weeks.
Now here’s the interesting part.
In the “after” accident photo on the right where my hair is wet, I weigh 5lbs LESS than I do in the picture on the left!
That’s right, in the first photo I weigh 117 pounds, which is about 5lbs heavier than I have averaged over the last 5 years. My high is usually 115 and low would be about 108. Now after losing muscle and clearly having a higher body fat percentage, I weight LESS….
So while you can ABSOLUTELY lose weight and not workout whatsoever. The results are dramatically different because you can get to your goal “weight”, but still have a high percentage of fat due to a low amount of lean muscle tissue.
That’s exactly what is going on in this picture. I’m not sure if you can tell (we are all our own worst critics), but you can see my shoulders are no longer round where I had built up that muscle and the other two obvious areas are my legs, which have a more “soft” roundish appearance as well as my midsection that’s obviously not as lean. All of these changes are due to a LOSS of muscle mass.
So it just goes to show you that the scale doesn’t tell the whole story and getting to that “prized” number, may not necessarily be what you really want. Losing weight for the heck of losing weight without ensuring you maintain lean muscle tissues is one of the reasons why so many people put the weight back on so easily after working so hard to take it off. By just reducing calories, especially when you do it too quickly, you lose muscle, which is one of the factors that keeps your metabolism working optimally.
Don’t get me wrong, I still use a scale for those clients who it’s important to, especially in the beginning. However, I also think it’s important to focus on many aspects of your health such as energy, digestion, mood, sleep and pay close attention to body composition. I tend to gauge where I’m at by pictures, but I will sometimes take measurements when I’m testing out a new nutrition protocol.
Now that my cast is off, I can run/sprint (sprinting is great for maintaining muscle) and return to doing some jump squats, lunges etc. But I still can’t carry much (if any) weight in my right hand and because my joint doesn’t have much range of motion back yet (cue painful physio), I can’t do any push ups, upper body weights, or carry free weights for my lower body exercises. But I do have a weighted vest now (thank you BodyRock.tv) to kick up my plyometric exercise a bit and I’m committing to working out more. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and be grateful for what you CAN do!
Over the next few weeks I am kicking it up a notch by doing my own signature 10 Day Detox with my 4 Week Feel Fabulous Detox participants. I will make sure to keep you updated on Facebook page, so be sure to follow along to find out what I’m eating and get some yummy new recipes!
Stay healthy and inspired!