Though change in body weight is an important marker of fat-loss, don’t rely ONLY on the scales to measure progress or the lack of it
As a successful entrepreneur, for Rahul, time is money. So, any of it spent on daily exercise used to be a bad investment. Then, an insurance company rejected his application for a term-insurance policy stating that his vitals were alarming. He was shocked. At 35, he was sleep-deprived, highly stressed and overweight. He also hit a couple of beers every night, which he thought he had earned after a long day of work.
Knocked down, Rahul bought a fitness tracker. He began to clock in 10,000 steps daily. He started eating healthy. He even strength-trained thrice a week. After a fortnight, he felt lighter and more energetic. His sleep quality improved. However, the scales disappointed him. He had not even lost one kilo! He recollected a conversation with one of his friends who had lost three kilos in the first week of his diet regimen. Rahul began to wonder where he was going wrong.
Patience is Key
There are many reasons Rahul didn’t lose weight in the first few weeks. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was his body. It took him many years of reckless eating and unhealthy lifestyle. Is it then fair to expect the fat to start melting in two weeks?
For someone like Rahul, on a new health regimen, a weight loss of 0.5% to 1% of body weight per week is a good target. For a person who weighs 100 kilos, a weight loss of 0.5 kilo to 1 kilo is a good expectation to set, provided the eating pattern is healthy and creates a calorie deficit (you burn more calories than you eat).
Any more weight loss would require you to get on drastic diets and exercise programmes that are not sustainable. Most people who lose weight too fast tend to put it on right back. That is definitely not what you want!
Multiple factors like previous eating pattern, training experience and differences in individual genetics play an important role in weight loss, not to mention stress levels, the sneakiest of them all. Stress levels spike cortisol levels in the body, which, in turn, increase water retention. If you are highly stressed, you will be at a disadvantage despite all the efforts you put in.
Impact of drastic changes in nutrition protocols is also a factor. When a person who usually consumes a carb-rich diet starts a Ketogenic diet, he will tend to lose a lot of weight in the first few weeks since his carbohydrates consumption (grains and fruits) is almost nil. One gram of carbohydrate can hold up to 3 grams to 4 grams of water. So, while he is jumping with joy, he may be unaware that all that he has lost is water, not fat. Such diets, in most cases are unsustainable as a lifestyle. When you are on a healthy, sustainable weight-loss programme, the process is slow and steady.
Don’t compare yourself with others. Trust the process and stick to your plan with consistency.
Scales Can ‘Lie’
Though change in body weight is an important marker of fat-loss, it is NOT the sole indicator of progress, especially during the first few weeks. Be mindful of small indicators. If you feel brighter, fit in your clothes better and have more energy, you are going in the right direction, scales notwithstanding.
Be Patient: Long-term consistency triumphs short-term intensity.
De-stress: There is solid evidence that meditation brings down stress levels.
Be Accountable: Keep a journal to track of your activities and eating pattern. It is probably the most important ready reckoner. Flip through it anytime and you will understand your hits and misses right away.