As I began my third week with my BarreAmped testimonial group in my studio in Franklin with weigh-ins, I was struck with the pressure women have to lose weight and be thin. The women in this group are with me to make a lasting change. So with the scale, there is pressure! Weigh-ins are both good and bad. If you weigh yourself daily, you know where you are and what adjustments need to be made in the form of diet and exercise. But so many variables (faulty scale, where you are in your cycle, how much salt you ate the night before) can affect the scale and sometimes those variables can seem to wreck your progress and can get you down.
I literally saw how nervous my girls were and while we all wanted amazing results to show up, I also knew about these variables and had to encourage more than a few of them.
There are so many things that can keep a scale from lowering.
Muscle Is More Dense than Fat
Let’s look at body mass. If you are building up lean muscle mass the scale might not go down as much but the inches will. That is why we measure and weigh each week. Muscle mass is dense. I like to remind my clients about my friend who loved my Size 3 Levi’s jeans. She weighed 106 pounds. I let her have them because she wouldn’t quit talking about them. She was so excited. But she gave them back to me a few days later saying she couldn’t button them when I could button them with ease. I weighed 126 pounds. If I hadn’t known about lean muscle mass, I would have had a complex about being 20 pounds heavier than her. But I could eat more than she could and button those jeans. (Those jeans will be the subject of a future blog on my journey through body image distortion; stay tuned).
There is also the fact that in one week, things just might not change much. When you don’t drastically cut calories, which we aren’t doing so as not to sabotage metabolism, the scale will not drop like it does on Biggest Loser. What we are doing is more lasting. We are creating changes in diet and exercise which are healthy. Therefore, we will probably not balloon back up to the original weight because it’s not something we cannot sustain.
I Don’t Eat Enough so my Metabolism Is Whacked
I hear this fear or, in some cases excuse, all the time. It is very rare that people don’t eat enough. I just don’t buy it. It can happen and can be true but often people are very unaware of just how much they consume. This is where writing down every morsel and every drop you consume comes in handy.
Eating my Grain Heart Out
What is being consumed? Is the diet too grain focused? In this country, grain is one of those healthy main food sources. And that makes me mad. I am absolutely convinced through research and experience that grains and sugar and processed foods are what is making this country so fat. (And I don’t believe it is fat or protein; I do not advocate a high protein/high fat diet. I advocate a primarily living organic diet of plant based foods (vegetables, fruits (especially berries and citrus), nuts (in moderation), fiber rich seeds (all kinds) and avocados) with lean quality proteins including cultured dairy, fish, legumes and pastured eggs. Your foods should be nutrient dense. You want to drop weight? Eat mostly a raw diet with high quality protein and fat and with no grains or sugar. See what happens).
What is going on in the body? Is there a metabolic problem? Is the thyroid, pancreas and overall endocrine system working or is it sluggish? If the scale isn’t budging but the plan is followed, this is where a person should have blood work done. I would never, as a fitness specialist, diagnose someone. That would be insane. But since my mother’s personal issues started with her thyroid during the low fat craze in the late 80’s and early 90’s and she was barely consuming foods (besides Snackwell’s Fat Free Cookies) and now she is an insulin dependent diabetic, I am aware of Metabolic Syndrome and I grow concerned. (Yet, in my opinion, this is another reason for this person to fill up her diet with nutrient dense foods which do not include whole grain bread, sugar or high fat dairy! I have seen too many people make a shift out of Syndrome X or Diabesity to whole health).
Hidden Salt and Sugar
Too much hidden salt and sugar are also factors. If you eat out, you are not controlling the salt (or fat or sugar content). The worst place in the world for me is Pei Wei. One day I went in and ordered Ginger Broccoli with brown rice (which I did not eat). I ate the broccoli and organic Silken Tofu and left feeling so sick. It felt like I had eaten a slice of cake. The next day I woke up and had super puffy eyes and I felt like my pants were tighter. When I went back to Pei Wei, I asked the staff if they added sugar to the meal and they said, oh, yes, would you like us to leave that off? I was like, yes, and can you leave off the added salt, too? They said, well we can decrease the amount of sauce we use but we cannot really decrease the salt as it is in the sauce already. This was a better option for me but I did leave there all salted up and do not choose to eat at Pei Wei anymore. I actually am very careful eating at any “ethnic” restaurant as I feel most are very heavy handed with salts and sugars. Obviously, salt makes you retain water and sugar contributes to the overall calorie content and both can affect the scale.
Being Stressed Produces Mindless Eating
One of the main ways people lose weight in my classes is the attention to form. You might think that being form focused is more about preventing injury since good form is key to keeping your body and joints safe. However, when you place attention to your form and become present and focused on these positions or postures, you connect your mind to your body and that affects the “eating” cycle. Becoming more present in your body 1/ helps wake you up to what you are putting into your body and 2/ can become a natural appetite suppressant. Just getting the mind out of the way of its erratic stress patterns makes you more mindful of what you put into your mouth because you can now be present in other aspects of your life (how you eat, how you speak to your children, how you handle traffic).
Now, keep in mind that you have to also break addictions to processed garbage (and I say most anything out of a plastic package or cardboard box falls under this category) but once those addictions are broken, the mind is much more attuned to the foods that will feed your cells. Mind Body Exercise is amazing for helping you become aware of so many things including what and why you eat.
No Sleep Makes Me Hungry
And let’s think about sleep. One of the biggest stressors and fat promoters is inadequate sleep. You should always be having from 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you get less than this, you will release a hormone called Ghrelin. In the PLoS Medicine Journal, a study showed that shorter sleep cycles were associated with higher levels of ghrelin and obesity. Ghrelin makes you feel ravenous. When you sleep adequately you will release a hormone called leptin which makes you feel satisfied. So sleep! If you need help sleeping, reduce caffeine, have a bed time ritual, turn out all lights and find exercises and supplements that might induce your sleep.
There are other factors for sure which affect the scale. Alcohol, exercise, time of day when you weigh, even the clothes you are wearing. Overall, it’s important to realize it is a journey. And if the scale isn’t tipping, you need to determine what you can do to change that. Here are some tips:
Keep a food journal. In it write down every morsel of food you eat and drink.
In this journal you should also write down what is causing your desires to eat.
Trade the bad for the good. When you want a cupcake or a bag of chips, have something nutrient rich instead. I often trade out those cravings with Matcha Green Tea. It’s my trick. But it works!
Drink water. Staying hydrated is key to not feeling hungry all the time. Most of the time we’re just thirsty!
Be more mindful than ever in your fitness routine. If you are doing steady state cardio, stop and become more efficient with HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. If you are not doing Barre or yoga or Pilates, try one of these classes out. Thankfully, BarreAmped is coming to DVD in a complete system this fall! It is a proven body shaping, mind body method that leaves with you calm energy!
Find support. If you are a loner when you are working out, you need to find a group of people to support and motivate you to keep you going. We were created to need each other.
Stop being in denial. It is NOT okay anymore for you to sit on your butt and say tomorrow I will start. It is NOT okay for you to continue to eat nutrient deficient meals out of packages. It is NOT okay for you to eat ANYmore fast food. You need to take control and change. Do not put it off anymore. You are worth way too much for these excuses.
Become Inspired. Rent, buy, or borrow any documentary or book that promotes plant based eating. There will always be a slight spin on these different ways of eating. There are many people who are writing blogs, books and cookbooks out there who have plans which are high raw, no processed. They are all a little different. Some are low protein, some are high protein, some are soy based/vegan, and some are high animal. Basically why I think these plans work is because they are 80% plant based and low grain. But these different spins will help you learn about nutrients and you can, in my humble opinion, find the one which suits you more and it’ll likely work. So if you have an issue with consuming animal based products, you can move more toward someone like Mark Hyman, MD. And if you have an issue with soy, you can choose someone’s plan like my friend, Dr. Josh Axe, DDS. My friend and founder of Living Raw Treats, Ginger Dunham recently told me, “Your body isn’t starving for calories, it is starving for nutrients.” So the next time you want that donut, you will know why it won’t feed your cells and why you shouldn’t eat it. Soon, you will have fed your body with nutrient rich foods and the donut doesn’t have its place anymore!
Pick up new hobbies. I always tell people to find what they love and love what they do. If you are constantly obsessing about your weight or your body, you will more than likely not get out of the rat’s race. Find hobbies that you enjoy like walking outdoors, volunteering with the elderly or with underprivileged kids, knitting, reading, or focusing on a new career. Getting your mind onto other things will so help you become all that you were created to become. One of my favorite books on finding what you are made for is a book by Dan Miller, 48 Days to the Work you Love.
Have a realistic relationship with the scale. Know that when you begin your journey, the scale isn’t the only gauge for your success. Make sure that you realize it is only one part. And eventually, it will tell you what you want to see.
Relax and enjoy the journey. If you are taking the above measures to eat right and work out, then you need to let the weight – which is also the weight on your shoulders of feeling the need to be perfect- come off. If you need to adjust things, then adjust things. You are on a quest to become healthy, not perfect. You are on your way to becoming your best YOU! To become more inspired, read my article Skinny Mannequin, Eat Something. Know that I am here, in my studio in Franklin, TN, rooting for you! Please let me know ways that you stay on the course. Inspire me!