Losing the Last 10lbs, Week 4 - The Scale is a LIAR - Optimize Fitness & Performance

I’m a month into my goal of “losing the last 10lbs” and I’ve got a few big things to talk about this week.

 

In short – I’m making good progress, but the scale lies and you shouldn’t trust it. It’s lying to me, and I’ll explain why.

 

Here’s a preview:

  • The importance of using multiple methods for measuring progress in fat loss
    (Alternate bullet: The Merits of Multiple Measuring Methods)
  • How to still splurge and enjoy eating, without “cheating” or feeling restricted

 But first, my results.

This week was my best week yet!

I tipped the scales at 178.0lbs.

 

I’ve been comparing my body fat percentage using two devices. One is an Omron scale that does a full-body reading, using foot and hand electrodes. The other is an Omron handheld scale. I use both to learn more about the differences between the two readings.

My initial scan was done on an Inbody 270, which I’ll use to rescan in February. The science geek in me is excited to compare the results of all 3 body fat measuring devices.

Comparison of Results

Date

Bodyweight

Omron HBF-306C – % Body Fat

HBF 306C – Fat Mass

Omron HBF-514 – % Body Fat

Omron HBF-514 – % Muscle Mass

HBF-514 – Fat Mass

HBF-514 – Muscle Mass

12/10

180

16.4%

29.52lbs

23.8%

37.6%

42.84lbs

67.68lbs

12/17

179

16.2%

29.0lbs

23.6%

37.6%

42.24lbs

67.304lbs

12/24

178.5

15.5%

27.67lbs

21.3%

39.0%

38.02lbs

69.615lbs

12/31

180

15.7%

28.26lbs

22.1%

38.6%

39.78lbs

69.48lbs

1/7

178

15.0%

26.7lbs

21.4%

39.0%

38.1lbs

69.42lbs

 

I’ve lost 2lbs scale weight, between 1.4% and 2.4% body fat, and between 2.82 and 4.74lbs of fat. I’ve gained 1.74lbs of muscle mass in the same timeframe.

As you look at the chart, you’ll notice a few trends.

My bodyweight is changing unremarkably. It’s not uncommon for me to swing 2-4lbs over the course of a day.

If I went solely by weight loss, I’d be considered a failure at current. Losing 2lbs in a month would not be good progress.

However, in that same time, I’ve lost -1.4% or -2.4% body fat, depending on the measurement device. I’ve also gained 1.4% muscle mass.

Mathematically, I’ve lost between -3 and -4.75 pounds of fat while gaining 1.74 pounds of muscle. And that’s over Christmas!

 

Those are results that I’m satisfied with. I’ve either caught back up to 12/24 or surpassed it. An error in either scale’s body fat reading isn’t out of the question, so I’ll know more next week.

It’s important to note that the body fat scales differentiate between water weight and fat weight. My weight can fluctuate wildly because of simple hydration. A bathroom break can be the difference between 179 and 179.5.

That’s why so many people “lose” 4-6 pounds in their first week on a no-carb or low-carb diet. 1 gram of carbohydrate binds 4 grams of water. Removing carbs removes a lot of water weight.

Measuring the actual fat mass lost is what’s important. On many crash diets with super low calories and low protein intake, people lose muscle mass. As a result, they end up literally fatter than when they started.

 

They tend to lose 1lb of muscle for every 2lbs of fat lost. As a result, they lose muscle mass and look less muscular at the end. They then need to strength train more to catch up. It’s a vicious cycle.

I’ve gained 1.74lbs of muscle mass, instead. Can’t beat that!!

The Importance of Using Multiple Measurements

Hopefully, my results make this clear. I’ll discuss it more here.

I recommend using a number of non-scale measurements to gauge your progress.

Otherwise, you’ll be like me and wondering why you’ve only lost 2lbs.

For me, I record my progress every Monday.

I weigh myself, take body fat percentage measurements on two separate devices, and take progress photos in the mirror. I measure at the same day and same time of day. I stand in the same pose for the photo in the same room and with the same lighting.

All in all, it’s 4 measurements. I’m also measuring my waist circumference every 2 weeks or so.

For you, you can choose to use all or some or none of these measurements.

 

For 8 weeks, I forbade my clients from using scales and taught them to rely only on a tight-fitting pair of jeans. They tried them on every second week. When the jeans fit, they knew they had reached their goal. If the jeans felt tighter in the waist after two weeks, we made further adjustments.

It was a 100% non-scale challenge, and every participant made excellent progress. Most lost 1-2 jean sizes over the course of 8 weeks – without weighing themselves even once!

 

The trick is to pick measurements that make you feel good and that you find reliable. I’m comfortable with numbers and hard statistics. It makes me feel like I’m doing a science experiment!

You’ll need to find your own system.

 

It’s also important to track your fitness progress. For me, my numbers in the weight room are improving. I’m getting more repetitions each workout or I’m using heavier weights. This ties well into my slight increase in muscle mass.

For you, be sure to track your gym progress. Record your sets, reps, and weight lifted. Aim to make small improvements each and every workout. Falling in love with this process of strength training is the key to success but also to embracing strength as a hobby and as a skill.

 

On Splurges and Why I Never “Cheat” on a Diet

I haven’t had a single “cheat meal”.

Why?

Because it’s a stupid term, that’s why!

I indulge. I splurge. Or, I simply Enjoy my food.

I still eat a burrito every Monday. I’ll confess to throwing out the tortilla to cut calories and starch, but it doesn’t change my enjoyment any.

If it did, I’d make a modification somewhere else.

 

To hell with cheats. It’s a mindset that gives a negative connotation to certain foods. It encourages bingeing and a mindset of restricting.

 

Own what you do and own what you eat. Just be willing to make the necessary modifications to your other days. Or, do like I did over Christmas, and accept that you might maintain or even backslide for a week on your progress. It’s fine, you’ll make it up the next week.

Just like I did.

Meet the Author: Devin Gray

Meet the Author: Devin Gray

Founder, Head Coach

NSCA-CSCS, FMSC, Pn1 Certified
B.S. in Exercise Science – Texas A&M University

Devin is the owner & head coach of Optimize Fitness & Performance. He helps people become stronger and perform their best. Devin is especially focused on helping people with injuries learn to workout safely after they finish physical therapy.

You can book a free 15 minute coaching call with Devin by clicking here.