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Focus on Body Composition, Not How Much You Weigh

It's not about the number on the scale but the fit of your jeans. Focus on body composition instead of weight to accurately gauge your weight goals.rn

joggers_fitness_exercise_man_woman_picGiven that over two thirds of the United States adult population is overweight or obese, it’s no surprise that the most common fitness goal by far is to lose weight. Almost everyone has a scale in their house, and some even weigh themselves regularly to track their fitness progress. While changes in body weight do often times indicate which direction you’re heading in terms of getting into better or worse shape, there’s a lot more going on than just your number on the scale, and a much better way to track it is by measuring your body composition.

Body composition isn’t just what you weigh, it’s what your weight is composed of, specifically how much fat mass you are carrying versus how much lean mass (muscle, bones, organs). Because of this, two individuals at the exact same body weight can have completely different body compositions, and they will look completely different because of it. You can also be at a weight you’ve been before in the past, but look very different because of a dissimilar body composition!

Most of us who have weight loss goals are, in reality, looking to change our body composition to have less fat mass and more lean mass, which will give a much slimmer and more toned and athletic appearance (as well as do wonders for our health). Because of this, our actual bodyweight should take a backseat to body composition in terms of priority. I’ve witnessed many clients seeing no change in weight while making great progress in appearance and performance. Some even gain weight while losing inches! If these individuals were looking at nothing else besides their bathrooms scales they’d be feeling discouraged rather than elated.

And this is another important consideration: Being focused on weight can lead to unnecessary anxiety. If all you care about is your weight, anything that causes even minor shifts in your reading on the scale may become associated with backsliding and produce anxiety. A typical person’s weight will fluctuate between 3 and 5 pounds during the day based on food and hydration, so don’t beat yourself up over gaining a couple pounds since this morning: you haven’t gotten fat!

Rather than carrying a bathroom scale in your back pocket and weighing yourself after every trip to the bathroom (yes, I’ve known clients who did this!), try getting your body composition checked a couple times per month to see if your fat mass is going down and your lean mass is going up. This will free you from that constant worry, and show you a much more accurate picture of your progress. woman_tape measure_waist_inches_body_fitness_slim_skinny_picMy preferred method of measuring body composition is to use calipers, which you may need to see a trainer at your local gym for, because it’s quick, easy, and fairly accurate. Be cautious of relying on electronic body fat measuring devices though, because I’ve seen them be way off too many times to trust them completely. And of course, to really track your progress, monitor not just one number, but all variables like your weight, body composition, performance, and how you look in the mirror!

Get a little motivation to attain your health and fitness goals!

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