Have you felt frustrated that your fitness goals seem to be taking forever? That’s a pretty common feeling. I think we are all familiar with that on some level.
Some of it is due to the limitations of the tools we use to quantify our results. The scale is the primary culprit. The scale doesn’t allow for us to account for water retention and gain of lean body mass (muscle). Body fat measurements by way of bioelectrical impedance or skin fold caliper also have a margin for error and aren’t as accurate as we would like.
These tools are super sexy though. We love all the bells and whistles, flashing lights and 3D displays. They just aren’t really practical unless you understand the limitations and have come to grips with them.
So what do we do?
We go off the grid. We simplify. We go “Old School”. If your goals are to lose body fat, your clothes are your best tool. If your jeans are slipping down yet they were snug a few weeks ago, there is a damn good chance you are losing body fat. I know it doesn’t sound like Quantum Physics but you would be surprised by how many people refuse to recognize this simple concept. If your rings are getting loose on your fingers, you are losing body fat.
Here’s another one. If your goal is to gain muscle and you are getting stronger in the gym, chances are pretty strong that you are putting on muscle. I have yet to find a human who got stronger while losing muscle. Simple, right? Yet, people line up to get on the newest, sexiest, high tech gadget that will measure their body fat and lean body mass.
Stronger in the gym=muscle. Pants falling down=fat loss. Do you really need to know more than that?
Here is where people shoot themselves in the foot. Let’s say someone has both of the above examples (stronger and pants falling down) yet the scale isn’t moving. Frustration right? But if you look at it, it should all make perfect sense. Increase in muscle should cause the scale to rise. Decrease in body fat should cause the scale to fall. They cancel each other out!!!
Yes you should track your weight. Yes you should track your body fat. But, NO, they should not be the only tools you use. Track your food and exercise as well. “Winging it” is not an effective methodology.
And be patient. You aren’t going to lose 10 pounds of body fat in a week. There are chemical and hormonal changes going on under the surface that aren’t visible to you. Those changes will result in your body being more efficient at burning body fat.
If your plan is practical and creates a slight caloric deficit through the combination of diet and activity, then you will lose body fat……period. If, however, you aren’t following that plan diligently or aren’t tracking thoroughly then you will have no way of knowing if you have created that caloric deficit. It then becomes guesswork.
Sometimes, stripping things down and simplifying puts things back into perspective. We have a tendency to make things difficult on ourselves and overthink. Technology is great but sometimes good ole’ common sense reigns supreme.