Many people focus on the scale and general weight loss as a measurement of success. While the scale is certainly a valuable tool, it does not reflect body composition (your ratio of fat mass to lean mass) and does not tell us what kind of weight (fat or lean muscle mass) we are gaining or losing. The weight on the scale does not reflect just fat mass...we tend to equate the number on the scale with a measurement of weight in terms of fat. So many variables are at play with the scale and our weight fluctuates...for example, if you just chugged 16 oz. of water, that can add a pound to the scale, or if you had a high sodium meal, you may retain water weight which will reflect on the scale, and there are many other variables as well that can play into weight fluctuations. I believe we ought to focus more on improving body composition as opposed to general weight loss. We ought to focus on gaining lean muscle mass while losing fat mass. Muscle has weight just as fat has weight, but muscle is denser than fat...5 lbs. of muscle weighs the same as 5 lbs. of fat, yet 5 lbs. of muscle will take up much less space than 5 lbs. of fat. Focus less on the scale and more on how your clothes are fitting and how you feel. As your body composition changes, the net result on the scale may not reflect well in the scale number. Refocus...think body composition, not weight. Should we still use the scale? Yes, it's still a valuable tool; however, try not to obsess over the scale. If you want tangible measurements for tracking progress that better reflects body composition changes as opposed to the scale, take body circumference measurements and/or body fat measurements with skinfold calipers.
How do we most effectively exercise to change our body composition? Endless hours of cardio? No. Cardiovascular exercise is important, but, cardio combined with weight training has been shown to be more effective for fat loss than cardio alone. Weight training is a critical component for improving body composition. We want to increase our muscle mass because the more muscle mass we have, the higher our resting energy expenditure becomes...our metabolism increases. For every pound of muscle you gain, you will burn an extra 40-50 calories per day. Grab those weights! Eat clean and participate in a consistent exercise program that includes both resistance training and cardio...do this and your body composition will change for the better.