Losing weight can be the most frustrating process. It doesn’t happen overnight and there’s truly no “healthy” quick fix. When you first start a new exercise routine it can be daunting, as well as exciting. You might be super amped to hit the ground running…literally, but when results don’t happen quickly people tend to get discouraged. Along with cardio, lifting weights is the best thing you can do for weight loss. Cardio is an aerobic activity that burns calories but it does not necessarily build muscle. Lifting weights or using resistance bands, breaks down muscle tissue and allows your body to build muscle and get stronger. This is important because muscle burns calories; fat does not. The more muscle you have, the higher amount of calories you will burn throughout the day- think of your muscles as a calorie-burning furnace. Now before you say, I don’t want muscle or ew I don’t want to get big and bulky, let me tell you, it is VERY difficult to get bulky. You must consume a very high amount of calories, specifically protein, and you must lift very heavy for lower reps (repetitions). Let me assure you, lifting weights will NOT make you big unless you follow a weight-training program designed for hypertrophy (abnormal muscle growth). Lifting weights will give you that toned and fit look that many of us aspire to achieve.
Now that you have decided to lift weights (which is so fun btw), stay off the scale!! I recommend getting your body fat measured so that you have a base line or starting point. You can make an appointment with a personal trainer at your local gym or with a registered dietitian to get your body fat measured.
In the beginning, you will likely build muscle before losing body fat. This is because our bodies do not like change. Our bodies want to stay where we are, so it is difficult to lose the amount of body fat we want in the first few weeks. Unfortunately, this means that the scale might go up INITIALLY, due to muscle gain from your new weight-training program. Don’t get discouraged! I promise you this is normal. If you are eating a healthy and balanced diet and working your butt off to exercise daily for at least an hour, there is no way you are gaining body fat, so don’t lose motivation by stepping on the scale. It is one of the worst things you can do because the typical scale does not explain your body composition. The scale does not differentiate between what is muscle, body fat, bone, or water. It just tells you your overall weight. The scale will not show that you lost one pound of body fat, but gained one pound of muscle. Instead you look at that scale and see the same number as the week before and you think no progress has been made. In reality, amazing changes are happening in your body and you should be SO proud of yourself. After one to two weeks, then get your body fat measured again and then track your progress.
OR another option, forget the scale and go based off how you feel! Do your clothes fit better? Do you have more energy? Has your high blood pressure gone down? Do you still have to take your diabetes medication or has the doctor lowered your dosages? Be mindful of why you are choosing to make these dietary and physical changes and make sure you are making the changes for YOU! You will only stick with a workout routine or lifestyle change when you are choosing to do so for your benefit and your reasons. Too many of us, including myself, get caught up in this social media and technology driven world where we require instant gratification from “likes” or comments in order to tell us that what we are doing is worthy. Do what truly makes you happy and forget about what everyone else thinks. In the end, YOUR happiness and health is what matters most.