Playing the numbers game when trying to lose weight can get quite tricky if you don’t pay attention to all the signs. When you venture on a fat loss program, results can come in many forms and you can be blindsided if you don’t take all factors into account.
While scale weight is a clue as to whether the program is working in your favor or not, you have to keep in mind that the scale is a measuring device. It is unable to distinguish between fat, muscle, bone, and water. Your weight can very from day to day due to the amount of carbohydrates you eat, the amount of water you drink, how much you sweat, and so forth. Changes on the scale don’t mean you are gaining or losing fat. It’s simply a guide that should be taken with a grain of salt.
Body Fat Percentage
Your body fat percentage is your muscle to fat ratio. For ladies, a body fat percentage in the range of 12 to 24% is acceptable. Body fat testing is merely a guide, to let you know if you are moving in the right direction or not. There may or may not be changes weekly or there may be minor fluctuations. This does not mean the program is not working. Some can lose body fat weekly and it may take 3 to 4 weeks on others. Concern should arise if the scale and the body fat percentage increases weekly.
Classification Female Male
Competition Condition 6-12% 3-7%
Athletic 12-18% 8-13%
Normal 19-24% 14-17%
Borderline 25-31% 18-25%
Obese 32% + 26% +
So what does a low body fat percentage really give you? Bragging rights. Many ladies are muscular, lean, and hard, yet their body fat is in the 14% range and they are unhappy because they want whatever glorious percentage they have set in their mind to be prefect. If you look phenomenal at 14% and not preparing for a contest, why go any lower? Dipping too low can cause hormonal imbalances and other problems. Getting below 12% can run the risk of amenorrhea.
Many times, your first week or two on a fat loss program will prove results in your clothing before the scale or other measuring devices. You may find that scale weight stays the same, but your clothing fits more loosely. This too is progress. Clothing can tell you a lot on how well your program is or is not working. If you see a dramatic change in how clothes fit and the scale doesn’t show any progress, then that does not mean the program is not working. Progress is simply showing its face in a different way. This is a sign of removing water retention and some fat loss.
The mirror can tell you a lot as to whether your program is beneficial or not. While the mirror is a useful tool, be cautious of mirror in gyms and diet clinics. They tend to have distorted mirrors many times and may make you appear heavier than you actually are. This is how they trap you into renewing your membership. It’s indirect and dishonest, but they get away with it nonetheless. Also, mirrors in clothing stores have bad lighting and can also make you appear distorted. It’s best to find one good mirror and use that as your reflective guide.
If you are receiving compliments from others on your body transformation, then that is useful feedback to let you know that the program is working. Many times you may think it’s not working because the numbers are not moving the way you had hoped or as fast as you wish, but what others see and say can tell you exactly what’s going on. Such positive feedback should be used as a motivating tool to enhance your program to ignite even more changes.
Now that you know that you don’t have to make it so scientific and become a mathematician, you can rest easy and look for progress in other forms.
Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988. She embarked on weight training to overcome an eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa in its early stages. She overcame the eating disorder, received her personal training certificate, competed in many local bodybuilding contests, and qualified for Nationals. Since then shes went on to write six e-books (weight loss, female bodybuilding, contest preparation, leg training, figure/fitness secrets, and cellulite removal). She writes articles for several fitness websites, as well as her own, www.theelitephysique.com, and also distributes a monthly e-newsletter. She has a very active and lively forum, filled with positive and supportive people with informative content. Karens sole goal is to educate others and help them apply that knowledge.