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Calorie Count Blog

Beyond the Number on the Scale


By +Carolyn Richardson on Aug 23, 2012 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

You're counting calories, exercising like never before, and keeping stress at bay. This all points to weight loss success, but alas weigh-in day comes and you're the same weight you were last week. What gives? Despite "good" behavior you may get frustrated that the numbers on the scale don't reflect your healthy habits. If you look at it from a different perspective you may find a new appreciation for your journey.

Lowering Your Risk

Your weight says nothing about you in and of itself. Sure you want to have a "normal" Body Mass Index (BMI), but what does that really mean? Because obesity raises your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, all preventable chronic diseases, it's an important public health issue. Some media campaigns lose the real message, but you have to keep that in mind when you're losing weight. It's not about being skinny. Each week you eat right and exercise you are lowering your risk of developing a preventable disease. Even for those who have developed a chronic disease, healthy habits are about staying in optimal health despite the prognosis. Here's some food for thought. After a year-long intervention, middle-aged men who participated in a combined exercise and weight training program had no change in their BMI. Yet, every predictor of their body fat content and distribution was lowered compared to the control group. Consider that a whole year of working out regularly may not budge the scale, but you'll still be healthier than you were without it.  

How To Tell If You're 'Winning'

There's no battle of the bulge or war against the scale in reality. The real fight in leading a healthier lifestyle is about living a better life. Studies have shown those who eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly enjoy better mood, better cognitive performance, better mobility and strength, and more energy. If staving off heart disease, the number one killer of women in America, isn't motivation enough, fight for these noticeable rewards. Can you run further than you did last week? Do you feel energized? Do you seem "sharper." These are all triumphs that you must acknowledge. Don't beat yourself up about the scale when there's so much more to celebrate. If you see positive gains in your fitness level, your skin, the way your clothes fit, even in your motivation to do healthy behaviors, you're winning.  If this isn't your first time around the weight loss block, reassess your numbers goal and find new rewards that you may not have noticed the first time around.

Go at Your Own Pace

So which pace is best? If you don't get the weight loss you want initially, should you push yourself to lose weight faster with a more extreme plan or take the slow and steady approach? Ultimately that answer is up to you, but you should consider if your plan is challenging enough to create a lifestyle change. A study by University of Florida researchers saw those who lost more weight in the initial month of a weight loss intervention were able to lose more weight overall during the 18-month study. They were not more susceptible to weight regain than slow weight losers. That's not a case for rapid weight loss, more than it's a prescription to stick to your guns. The slower paced group continually lost weight under their goal, yet they still continued to lose. No matter what pace you take, remember you'll have setbacks. Both groups had some weight regain during the study, and all of them had a slower rate of weight loss after their initial month. All in all, it's important to strive to maintain a normal weight, but don't get discouraged if that doesn't seem to be coming quickly. Keep the bigger picture in mind and prioritize good health as a lifelong endeavor instead of a number on the scale.


Your thoughts...

How do you stay motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle despite the scale not moving some days? If you're in maintenance, what are new ways to reward yourself?



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Comments


male 44 regular excercise since april - lost 20lbs so far. the greatest thing is as you change shape clothes start fitting better, smaller waist size and broader shoulders make you look better and feel better, complements are nice too! I have only lost 3lb over the last month so this is hard to stomach (no pun intended) when you are working out hard and being care....I know I could be more careful but you balance lifestyle with eating habits no?

 



male 44 regular excercise since april - lost 20lbs so far. the greatest thing is as you change shape clothes start fitting better, smaller waist size and broader shoulders make you look better and feel better, complements are nice too! I have only lost 3lb over the last month so this is hard to stomach (no pun intended) when you are working out hard and being care....I know I could be more careful but you balance lifestyle with eating habits no?

 



Comment Removed

marjeanne1944 congrats on keeping the weight off for 6 years!  I think that is wonderful. You'll definitely be able to lose again, our bodies reflect and respond to protect us. Stress weight (if I can call it that) seems to take longer to burn off.

 

carolyn_r thank you for yet another timely article. I myself have hit a plateau lasting 4 months now but have noticed some of the changes you mentioned. I am able to lift more and I am finishing projects/tasks at work more quickly (I mean things that used to take me two days I can now often finish in 6hrs)  My thinking is so much more clear than when I started my weight loss journey. I've also noticed I don't become ill as often. Yes there are numerous imperceptible  benefits to simply eating nutritiously and working out.


Keep on keeping on and enjoy folks.



this is good news to me trying to eat healthy and walk very day ,



Also keep in mind as you exercise you'll develop more muscle which is denser than fat... the scale won't show you that, but taking your before and after measurements will.

Keep going!!!



Interesting article, but I must point out that sometimes people with "heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, all preventable chronic diseases" are NOT overweight.  I've had high blood pressure since my early thirties and I wasn't overweight then and I'm not now - I'm still in the "normal" range for my height. Just over a year ago, I lost about 8 pounds (quite a bit of weight at 5'1") and my bp actually went UP! So heredity has to be at work, along with hormonal changes, as I expected to see my bp go down with the weight loss.  Now I'm on additional bp meds and I see wild fluctuations in weight, mostly due to water retention from one of the meds.  I understand it, but it's frustrating nonetheless when I'm careful about what I eat and exercise at least 5 days a week and then see that extra pound or two! Anyway, I just had to point out that those three diseases are not necessarily preventable!



This came to my email at the PERFECT TIME.  I was just complaining to my mom this morning that I've been absolutely perfect, exercise, staying in my calories & nothing is making the numbers on the scale budge. 60lbs + gone, I'm so close to my goal of 150lbs, yet those 3lbs WILL NOT come off.
Thank you for pointing out that yes, I have TONS more energy, I CAN walk for miles on end without stopping, & even enjoy the thrill of running short distances. I've stopped my stomach pills, blood sugar pills and blood pressure pills.  I HAVE indeed come a long way! And I appreciate you reminding me of that.Tongue out



I had been maintaining my goal weight of 128lbs from 2008-2011 up until recently. I had successfully completed a WW program after my 2nd child was born in 2008 and along with P90x got into ideal shape. But I got bored with repeating the same program after 4x thru of the 90 days. My diet was by the book with WW and I didn't drink at all during that first 3 month stint in 08. Now 3 years have flown by and I'm approaching 35 yrs old and I can tell my metabolism has significantly slowed down and I can't get below 135lbs despite how hard I push my self with running 3-5 miles or swimming along with incorporating p90 into it. The frustrating part is the muscle I gained back on 2008 has the memory to return but I have begun seeing my skin getting looser this year and not as taut as just a few years ago. Even 1-2 low-cal cocktails a week stunts my progress like crazy it seems while my diet is pretty by the WW book. Am I really looking forward to a uphill battle now for the rest of my fitness life as I age?


Those last pesky pounds are always the hardest to loose AND keep off.  I like your attitude you will succeed.



Can you get a friend to exercise with or  fast walk with? I know I stick to it better when I walk with someone. We keep eachother honest? They are right it is not all about the scale eating healthy is a lifestyle not a temporary solution for a long term porblem atleast not with me. Eating fresh is key and trying new things either on weekends or during the week depending on your schedule. Cooking at home and when ordering  out salads and fish checking the calories and alcohol can really add pounds on. Hope this helps.



This article nail IT..

Scales are important but the overall package is what Counts.

I have lost 26 pounds in 15 weeks and several inches ( a complete pant size reduction) through conscious meal planning and exercise.

More important, at age 69, I FEEL the energy enjoyed 20-30 years ago, I LIKE the way I look and my activity level and actually generated more business.

Like the La Quinta Hotel ads Cool



A few things I have noticed beyond the scale.

I no longer have acid reflux, no need for meds or handfuls of tums.

I started monitoring my Blood Pressure. I've gone from the red zone to the yellow zone on my meter and will do the dance of joy when I hit the green zone!

My socks are loose in the ankle. lol

I went back to a belt I had outgrown and moved it in a notch more yesterday.

I can button an old pair of shorts that had about a 4 inch gap between button and button hole  before I started this.

My arms no longer have a jiggle factor. 

Cool



Thanks for this article.  It came just when I needed it!  Over the past year and 4 months I have lost a total of 90 lbs.  I have been in the dreaded "plateau" since June, and it is hard to not become discouraged.  My goal is to loose about 20 more lbs, which would put me at the ideal range for my age and height.  I must admit that my energy level is so much better, I can now walk over 2 miles w/o trouble and my type 2 diabetes nunbers have decreased to slightly above the ideal-  ALMOST GONE!  These are truly the things I need to focus on to stay the distance.  Thanks for helping me encourage myself.



Original Post by: turnpenny

Those last pesky pounds are always the hardest to loose AND keep off.  I like your attitude you will succeed.


So sorry to tell you but Yup, it only gets harder, especially once you hit menopause. It really stinks! Yell



Well, shomehow it feels good to know that the scale is not the measure of success. I am 23, 175 cm and 69 kg .... so at a normal BMI. Since april I started watching what I eat (though I do not have a very low calory diet) and I go to the gim min 3 times a week.... however I have not lost more than 2kg all in all.

I need to admit that I do look better, and the muscles are staring to show, but the scale does not move. So I can certainly say that good results can not only be measures in kg.



Well, shomehow it feels good to know that the scale is not the measure of success. I am 23, 175 cm and 69 kg .... so at a normal BMI. Since april I started watching what I eat (though I do not have a very low calory diet) and I go to the gim min 3 times a week.... however I have not lost more than 2kg all in all.

I need to admit that I do look better, and the muscles are staring to show, but the scale does not move. So I can certainly say that good results can not only be measures in kg.



Well, shomehow it feels good to know that the scale is not the measure of success. I am 23, 175 cm and 69 kg .... so at a normal BMI. Since april I started watching what I eat (though I do not have a very low calory diet) and I go to the gim min 3 times a week.... however I have not lost more than 2kg all in all.

I need to admit that I do look better, and the muscles are staring to show, but the scale does not move. So I can certainly say that good results can not only be measures in kg.



Original Post by: 3catnight

Interesting article, but I must point out that sometimes people with "heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, all preventable chronic diseases" are NOT overweight.  I've had high blood pressure since my early thirties and I wasn't overweight then and I'm not now - I'm still in the "normal" range for my height. Just over a year ago, I lost about 8 pounds (quite a bit of weight at 5'1") and my bp actually went UP! So heredity has to be at work, along with hormonal changes, as I expected to see my bp go down with the weight loss.  Now I'm on additional bp meds and I see wild fluctuations in weight, mostly due to water retention from one of the meds.  I understand it, but it's frustrating nonetheless when I'm careful about what I eat and exercise at least 5 days a week and then see that extra pound or two! Anyway, I just had to point out that those three diseases are not necessarily preventable!


Heredity has a lot to do with it. My family all have really high blood pressure and my Dad and all his sisters and brothers died from strokes, heart disease and their complications. I have lost 50lb and at first went off all my BP meds. I had to go back on two, although at lower does than I use to be on. You are absolutely right that these diseases can't be necessarily prevented, but as a nurse I also know that when you add obesity and non activity on to these diseases you are headed for disaster. You add collateral circulation to your heart when you exercise which means if and when you do have a heart attack you will have a lot less change of dieing from it. You have a much better outcome from open heart if you have a lower body weight when you go into surgery. You can only increase your chances of having less ill effects from these disease as you try and be as healthy as you possibly can be within your own powers.  So hang in there and keep up the good work. Stay on those BP meds and keep your BP normal and you will have a longer healthier life.



This is the best article I have EVER read on this on Calorie Count.

So many of my friends and sponsees weigh themselves every day or every week and allow the scale to dictate their emotions and their progress.  If they lose a pound they take it as an invitation to cheat.  If they don't lose anything, they get depressed and go off their program.  

THROW THE DANG SCALE OUT!!!!!!!!!

It's all about making an honest effort to eat healthier foods in healthier portions and moving our bodies more.  Our clothes, our energy level, our outlook on life, and our overall feeling of improved health and well being are ONLY gauges of progress we need. 

So what if it takes 2 or 3 years to get down to an ideal weight.  Where will we be in 3 years if we do nothing about our poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle?



This is the best article I have EVER read on this on Calorie Count.

So many of my friends and sponsees weigh themselves every day or every week and allow the scale to dictate their emotions and their progress.  If they lose a pound they take it as an invitation to cheat.  If they don't lose anything, they get depressed and go off their program.  

THROW THE DANG SCALE OUT!!!!!!!!!

It's all about making an honest effort to eat healthier foods in healthier portions and moving our bodies more.  Our clothes, our energy level, our outlook on life, and our overall feeling of improved health and well being are ONLY gauges of progress we need. 

So what if it takes 2 or 3 years to get down to an ideal weight.  Where will we be in 3 years if we do nothing about our poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle?



This is the best article I have EVER read on this on Calorie Count.

So many of my friends and sponsees weigh themselves every day or every week and allow the scale to dictate their emotions and their progress.  If they lose a pound they take it as an invitation to cheat.  If they don't lose anything, they get depressed and go off their program.  

THROW THE DANG SCALE OUT!!!!!!!!!

It's all about making an honest effort to eat healthier foods in healthier portions and moving our bodies more.  Our clothes, our energy level, our outlook on life, and our overall feeling of improved health and well being are ONLY gauges of progress we need. 

So what if it takes 2 or 3 years to get down to an ideal weight.  Where will we be in 3 years if we do nothing about our poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle?



Original Post by: beluomo

This is the best article I have EVER read on this on Calorie Count.

So many of my friends and sponsees weigh themselves every day or every week and allow the scale to dictate their emotions and their progress.  If they lose a pound they take it as an invitation to cheat.  If they don't lose anything, they get depressed and go off their program.  

THROW THE DANG SCALE OUT!!!!!!!!!

It's all about making an honest effort to eat healthier foods in healthier portions and moving our bodies more.  Our clothes, our energy level, our outlook on life, and our overall feeling of improved health and well being are ONLY gauges of progress we need. 

So what if it takes 2 or 3 years to get down to an ideal weight.  Where will we be in 3 years if we do nothing about our poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle?


I love my scale! It gives me a sense of control. I get encouraged and motivated by it. If I don't show a decible of loss, it makes me work harder for that day. When I see a sustantial loss, I get excited and want to try harder. It's a guideline for me to monitor some results of my labor. Like an ATTAGIRL!

As I posted earlier, I love all the other positive changes. It's not all about the weight, but it is a part of it., and something I can check daily, like my Blood Pressure. I'm losing at a safe, steady rate. Not breaking any records, and I'm happy with that.



I'm glad it works for YOU, and I generally preface all my comments by asserting the we all have to do what we have found is best for us individually.

But my experience working with food addicts, the severely obese, and those who have had lifelong struggles with obesity and yo-yo dieting has made it very clear that the scale can be a demon for many people for the reasons I have already stated in my original comment.

When my sponsees get hung up on "numbers" on the scale, they don't appreciate the broader benefits of a healthy weight and lifestyle without getting discouraged or impatient when they hop on a scale regularly and get discouarged and depressed because they expect better results. 

That's what this article is all about.  When some of use the scale as our almighty gauge of progress and we do not see it moving down at the steady rate we expected, we don't give ourselves due credit for what's more important than that number on the scale- - the way we feel when we eat better, the increased energy we feel, the way our clothes fit better, the loss of inches, the toning of our muscles, and a slow and steady recovery that will increase the odds of keeping our weight off and mainting our healthy eating style for a lifetime.

Once a month on the scale is what I have found to be the best frequency for those who feel that have to use it.

 

 



Original Post by: rsummersm

Original Post by: beluomo

This is the best article I have EVER read on this on Calorie Count.

So many of my friends and sponsees weigh themselves every day or every week and allow the scale to dictate their emotions and their progress.  If they lose a pound they take it as an invitation to cheat.  If they don't lose anything, they get depressed and go off their program.  

THROW THE DANG SCALE OUT!!!!!!!!!

It's all about making an honest effort to eat healthier foods in healthier portions and moving our bodies more.  Our clothes, our energy level, our outlook on life, and our overall feeling of improved health and well being are ONLY gauges of progress we need. 

So what if it takes 2 or 3 years to get down to an ideal weight.  Where will we be in 3 years if we do nothing about our poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle?


I love my scale! It gives me a sense of control. I get encouraged and motivated by it. If I don't show a decible of loss, it makes me work harder for that day. When I see a sustantial loss, I get excited and want to try harder. It's a guideline for me to monitor some results of my labor. Like an ATTAGIRL!

As I posted earlier, I love all the other positive changes. It's not all about the weight, but it is a part of it., and something I can check daily, like my Blood Pressure. I'm losing at a safe, steady rate. Not breaking any records, and I'm happy with that.


My resonse to this post follows it.



"There is no war against the scale. The battle in leading a healthier lifestyle is about living a better life." ---- I love it. Well said.



I am stuck at 133 and sometimes 134.  I want to lose down to 120.  I admit I do go over my 1200 calorie limit once or twice a week.  I am eating healthy, but it is so hard when everything tastes so good.



I've been exercising regularly and eating more healthily for the last several months. I haven't seen an enormous change in my weight - however, one of my goals for this summer had been to hike more, and when I went on my first hike of the year, I discovered a fantastic, unintended consequence of my regular exercise: hiking was sooooo much easier and more enjoyable! I didn't get winded when I went up steep slopes, and my weight training made it much easier for me to pull myself up steep, rocky sections of trail! I have always enjoyed being outside, but now that I'm fit and healthy, hiking is easier and more enjoyable! I'm having a lot of fun outside this summer, and I'm trying out as many different types of active outdoor activities as possible. Being able to have more fun outside has become a big exercise motivator for me and has resulted in my exercising more regularly than ever! And this, along with healthy eating, has begun to result in my body looking better too!



This article is great.  Though my eating habits are great and I started exercising a couple months ago on a regular basis, I have not lost any weight, nor do my clothes fit differently.  I find it very frustrating.  Especially I went from complete couch potato(chronic illness) to exercising.  I get discouraged but my husband has pointed out that I have more energy, am in less of a fog, and doing more since I started working out regularly.  This is a big deal considering my illness.  Still frustrating, but this article just confirms what my husband keeps pointing out, that there have been positive changes.  I'll have to stop looking at the scale and be thankful of those changes.



Benefits beyond having dropped 3 sizes, lost 35 pounds in 11 months: I can sit fairly comfortably in an airline seat now ( the seatbelt has about 7" of belt leftover where before I struggled to hook it shut); I can walked 5-7 miles a day if I do it in 2 miles increments; bought new smaller underwear; reflux is GONE; I quit detrol for over active bladder; blood sugar is just 1 point above normal. I'm more energetic, happier and just plain feel better than I have in last 20 years. Also I use my scale every day to determine changes in my food choices for what works what doesn't. I can see what happens when I meet friends and have 2 glasses if wine - the scale helps me reel myself back into my healthy routine. Taking an NRA slogan (I'm not a supporter!) but you'll have to pry that scale from my cold dead but stronger hands! Ha!


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