My Experiment: Doomed by Weight on the Scale

Weight Loss
December 16, 20225 min read

WEIGHT LOSS ELUSIVE? HERE'S WHY.

I started an experiment on myself on October 3, 2022 to make some minimal, and hopefully effective changes, to encourage people who believe taking an interest in their health will require too much time or an overwhelming amount of effort.

Weight and fat decreased, muscle and metabolism increased, cellular age improved.

I followed a very basic strength program and took a high dose omega 3 supplement.  Then...I added drinking water. That's it.

My weight increased, as I’d hoped, for two reasons.  One, because I was strength training and trying to add some muscle (which is much harder to do than we all think) and two, because weight gain is typically part of the process, but also the part of the process that makes us all quit.

Keep reading if you have gained weight when starting a weight loss strength training program and you got discouraged and quit!

Muscle weighs more than fat AND we are ADDING TO our bodies.  Wouldn’t it be nice if while we added the muscle, the fat simultaneously melted away??  YES!! But, that’s not how it works, especially as we get older. 

After 4 weeks, I’m up one pound.

(As a reminder…many weight loss products and programs may promise you to lose 20 pounds in this amount of time!)  ..

Rapid weight loss is never healthy for many reasons, and the point I will choose to make here is that it is typically not sustainable, meaning you will gain it back.  When we lose weight we lose muscle and water.  When we gain it back we typically add back fat.  Not a good trade for your body.

MONTH ONE SUMMARY

  1. I followed a beginning strength training program that required me to lift between 20-30 minutes four times a week.  One workout was 20 minutes, two were 25 minutes and leg day was 30 minutes.

  2. I took 2 teaspoons of a high dose omega 3 supplement daily.

  3. No other changes.

 

What happened?

  • Fat – relatively the same

  • Muscle –  increased

  • My metabolism rate increased

  • The needle moved from catabolic (inflammatory and breaking down muscle) to anabolic (building muscle). This is why my weight has increased.

  • My cellular age (inflammation in my body) improved.

My initial measurement was 5 years older than my true age!!!  UGH!!  I’m told that many people are closer to 20 years over their age in years and so while I was slightly relieved…I’m going for 10 years younger! I moved the needle 4 years, and so my cellular age and actual age are only 1 year apart.  The integrity of my cellular membrane is improved, but I’m told there is still room for improvement.  Challenge accepted.

MONTH 2 SUMMARY

What I did:

  1. Continued my strength program (and finally felt stronger in week 5)

  2. Continued my high dose omega 3’s

  3. I guaranteed that I drank half my bodyweight in ounces each day.  I was close on this already, but not always consistent, so made sure each day I hit that total.  Details matter.

What happened:

  • Weight dropped 1.5 pounds (0.5 pounds overall)

  • Body fat dropped by 1.3 pounds from highest point, 1% overall

  • Muscle mass increased

  • BMI slight decrease

  • Additional increase to basal metabolic rate

  • Total Body Water (ability to hold water) increased by 0.3 L

  • Cellular age dropped 6 years (and now I’m 5 years under my actual age)

To review all of these bullet points as a clinician makes me so pumped!  Those changes are incredible and achieved with THREE manageable components...strength training, omega 3’s and water.  That’s all.  In this same time period, I attended Thanksgiving dinner…no joke in my family, freshly baked bread and a plethora of desserts.  I ate them all.  I attended a retreat where I had wine or a cocktail each night, and a few other rogue celebrations.

I CAN'T EVER LOSE WEIGHT!

Do you frequently struggle to move the needle on the scale?

How long do you give that needle to move...and do you measure anything else except weight?

I will draw attention to the numbers I have captured, primarily my weight.  Over the course of 8 weeks (8 WEEKS!!) I first gained a pound and then lost 1.5 for a net loss of 0.5.  IN EIGHT WEEKS.  I stress this because I have had an incredible amount of conversations with people over the last few weeks who are disappointed with no weight loss, a pound up or similar.  I am stronger, my clothes fit better, my belly is flatter and less bloated and I feel better about myself.

Unfortunately, we have been trained to focus only on the scale, and that focus can be the source of us giving up.  There are many points over the last 8 weeks that my weight only could have caused me to pack it in…but I am fortunate to have attended this rodeo many times before.  For those of you who come to this rodeo focused only on one cowboy…hold onto your hats.  The best version of the rodeo champion is still in the chute.  

Stay the course. This month I move from strength training to strength maintenance (once per week) and my goal specific run training.  I have built a solid foundation (that has taken 8 weeks) and I’m looking forward to sharing the next four weeks' results with you all in the new year!

If you were offered an opportunity to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks but with a 95% of gaining it back OR the opportunity to lose 20 pounds in 6 months and keep it off...which do you choose?

Anne Rollins MS RD CSSD LDN

How the Number on the Scale Discourages our Weight Loss Effort

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