When women begin an exercise and diet regimen, their goal is typically weight loss, and their benchmark is usually an arbitrary number on the scale. Because of the emphasis on numbers, many women despair once they hit a plateau. They begin to think poorly of themselves when the scale becomes the enemy and the number just will not budge.
Staying Focused and Achieving Your Fitness Goals
It’s easy to slip back into an unhealthy lifestyle and undo all the progress you made, which makes you feel even worse about yourself. Why bother with the effort if your body won’t do what you want it to do even when you are doing everything you’re supposed to? It’s a vicious cycle, but with a change in thinking and attitude you can break that cycle and overcome your fear of the scale and the dread of facing a plateau.
We think we are supposed to have a low body weight and that doing endless cardio is the way to get the results we want, but this is ultimately unproductive because what we are told we should be doing is wrong.
The number on the scale is not always as significant as we think it is. When you first start a new diet and workout program, your weight begins to drop rapidly because of the positive changes you’ve made. You may have led a sedentary lifestyle with a poor diet full of saturated fat and empty calories.
The transition to an active lifestyle with a more nutritionally complete diet lower in fat forces your body to adjust quickly. This gives your metabolism a jump-start that encourages rapid weight loss. However, as your body adjusts to the changes you’ve made, it slows down in shedding excess weight and you encounter a plateau that no amount of cardio can seem to fix.
Give Yourself More Motivation with a New Way of Thinking
There are two changes you can make to ensure you keep making progress toward the body you want.
The first is to change your definition of results. The scale is a useful tool in the first stage of your weight loss, since it is a good motivator while your body is adjusting to your new lifestyle. However, once you hit the inevitable plateau, it’s time to stop using the scale to judge how successful you are. Instead of focusing on where you think you are failing, start reminding yourself of how much progress you have made.
Take progress photos and compare them to photos of yourself from before you began your fitness program. Seeing how dramatically your body has changed because of all your hard work can motivate you to step up your routine.
Changing your routine is the second step to overcoming the plateau and moving on from the scale. Cardio is great for your health, but to really sculpt your body, you must start weight training. The muscle you build during weight training will not only give you the curves you want, it will also give your metabolism another boost. As you build muscle, your body begins to burn calories at a faster rate. As you add to your routine and stick to your diet, you will keep burning body fat.
The End Results
You might be thrown off when the number on the scale starts to creep back up after weight training. Even as you lose inches from your waistline, thighs and other areas of your body, it is likely that you will gain weight. Remember that muscle is more dense than fat. Five pounds of fat will occupy a smaller volume than the same amount of fat will. Look at your progress photos and see how much leaner you are than you were before you began weight training. More than anything, this will probably show you just how little the scale matters after that initial period of rapid weight loss.
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