Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 14, 2010

The weighting game: how to truly measure weight loss

By Erin Shultz
Tribune lifestyle editor

Kokomo — Anytime Fitness pers-onal trainer Rob Land doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in the scale.

In fact, he says it’s not really a good indicator of whether his clients are losing weight or not.

“The scale can be just as much of a bad thing as a good thing,” he said.

Land’s advice? Do not even glance in the direction of the scale more than once a week.

“And that, to me, is a lot,” he said.

To our female readers who are gasping aloud right now, Land says waiting for the scale to move can get inside your head and affect your workouts and nutrition in huge ways.

Perhaps the weight loss isn’t big enough, so a person will go into massive caloric restriction, which can cause the metabolism to slow. Perhaps the weight loss is large, so a person could think it’s OK to slack off a little.

“That number in your head can do a lot of damage to how you respond to it physically,” he said.

The amount of carbs eaten, the time of day a person weighs, how much food is in his or her stomach and how much water a person is retaining all play a part in the number on the scale.

In order to keep some kind of consistency with your weight loss, Land says pick a day, time and outfit in which to weigh, and stick with those. For instance, Land’s “cheat day” is Sunday, so he always weighs on Saturday night since his nutrition has been spot on for the previous six days. He says he has clients who will weigh in on a Wednesday morning, before eating breakfast and others who weigh in on Thursday afternoons.

The key, he said, is replicating the conditions as closely as possible, so you have base from which to compare. Also, make sure you’re always weighing in on the same scale.

If the scale isn’t moving, but you’ve been consistent about nutrition and exercise, the difference could be an overall change in body composition — meaning less fat and more muscle on the body.

Some of our Mommy Makeover participants haven’t lost an enormous amount of weight — yet they have shed inches and continue to drop dress sizes.

“The scale only knows ‘weight,’” he said.

Other effective body measurements include body fat testing and Body Mass Index, although Land can’t say he’s heavily in favor of either.

Instead of looking at the scale as the end-all, be-all to weight loss, Land said a better choice is looking at how your body appears and how your clothes are fitting.

If you see someone you haven’t seen in a month, the response you’re looking for is something like “Wow, you’ve lost weight,” he said.

When you do get on the scale, however, a good rule of thumb is to be losing 1 to 2 pounds of weight per week, but the more you weigh, the faster the weight will come off — especially at the beginning.

If your weight loss has stalled, it’s time to look at your nutrition and your exercise. Your body could be adjusting to the routine — or, more likely, he said, you could be eating more than you realize.

Land said it can be hard to stay away from chronic weighing, but it’s far more beneficial to see and feel the results in your body than on the scale. And trust him — he knows about the waiting game with the scale.

“If anything, I’m worse than my female clients,” he said with a laugh.