Health Team

If fitness is your goal, measure progress in inches, not pounds

Posted January 3

With the new year, many of us have a goal in mind: shedding some pounds.

The numbers on the scale, though, might not be the best reflection of the progress you are making.

Instead of focusing on weight loss, experts say to keep the focus on what your body is doing on the journey to fitness.

"When you're changing your habits of fitness, you have to remember that your body is trying to adjust to that, so it can actually retain a lot of water at the beginning (or) at some point, and then it dies off, and then it will actually show what's really happening," said Dr. Erica Stepteau of the Cleveland Clinic.

Stepteau says that often times people have a specific weight in mind, and when they don't see that number right away, they get frustrated.

She also says it's common to start a workout plan only to discover early on that you've actually gained a few pounds. That weight gain could be due to increased muscle mass, which takes up less space in the body but still weighs as much as fat.

Changes in water retention and muscle mass might skew the numbers showing on the scale and not accurately reflect the hard work you're putting in.

Stepteau recommends people measure themselves instead. She says people should measure around their waist, the middle of their thighs and their arms to better identify where you are losing fat.

The most important thing to remember is that results take time, and patience is everything.

So, stay calm because anxious energy can make us hold on to unwanted weight.

"You want to make sure that you are as relaxed as possible through your journey and just really be assured that if you're putting the right time and dedication and consistency into this journey, it will show up," Stepteau said.

It could take a couple week of months for some people to see the results they want. It all depends on your own metabolism and when you first started your fitness program.

No matter how little, any increase in movement and flexibility is beneficial to our overall health, even if the number on the scale doesn't move much at all.


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