When I asked a member at the gym how she was doing yesterday, after a moment's hesitation, she shared her disappointment with me. She was feeling down about her number on the scale not moving down much after joining the gym about a month ago, and was in need of a little advice and encouragement. I shared a few things with her that seemed to give her hope again, so I thought I would share a few of those things with those of you that might be feeling the same way.
- The scale can be a useful tool in tracking progress when used properly, but it's pretty much useless in the first few months, and can be detrimental if it causes you to give up. When you first start working out regularly, you start to gain muscle while losing fat. Muscle is denser than fat, taking up less space. You will get smaller, but the scale won't show it yet. So you will likely feel a difference in how your clothes feel before you see the number budge much on the scale. And that muscle you are gaining is a good thing. Not only does it make you stronger and fitter, but it burns more calories 24/7, even when you're not working out. So use the scale to see where you're at now, and then ignore it for awhile. You can use it again later when it will be more beneficial.
- In addition to exercising regularly, to lose weight it's also important to watch what you eat. But don't go on any crazy diets. Don't starve yourself, and don't ban the foods you love. Have your treats in small amounts less frequently. Eat moderately, but don't overdo it. You do need to have a calorie deficit to lose weight. But if you try to cut out too much, you will sabotage your efforts in more ways than one.
- It takes time. We didn't put on our extra weight overnight, and we can't expect to lose it fast, either. Fast weight loss ads are hype. They are not healthy, not lasting, not realistic. You have to be in this for the long run. Stick with it. Things will happen if you don't give up.
- Focus on being healthy and feeling better. Sometimes it helps to just change our focus and do the right things for our health. The weight loss will follow in time. I know this to be true, because I've been there.
We talked quite a bit more than this as I shared some of my personal experience and more tips with her, and she said she does feel better since she started exercising regularly. I encouraged her as much as I could in that little bit of time, and she left with a smile on her face. But there is so much more to say than what can be said in a single conversation or a single blog post. So follow along and read my blog regularly to put together more of the pieces. I'll have more info on these topics and others over time.
If you'd like some one-on-one coaching to help you specifically in the midst of your current circumstances, be sure to contact me. I can work with you in person if you live in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, or I can work with you through emails if you don't live in my area. Either way, I can help you work through the many obstacles of getting fit and losing weight, and help you reach your goals.
Whatever you do, don't give up. Stay determined. Find a way. You can do it. :)