I like to tell people that I’ve lost weight, but can I tell you guys a secret? I actually haven’t. But once upon a time, not that long ago, you couldn’t see my hip bones. Of course, I’m not saying that visible bones are a thing that people should strive for – not by a long shot. But having always been a naturally skinny girl, all knobbly knees and ribs without ever having to try very hard, to stand in front of the mirror and not see something that had always been there was a bit of a wakeup call for me.
I don’t make a habit of weighing myself. I personally don’t believe that weight is a great indicator of health, especially in a person who lifts weights. Let’s start with the basics: we’ve all heard the phrase “muscle weighs more than fat”. While this isn’t necessarily true when read like that (because a kilogram of fat weighs the same as a kilogram of muscle), what this means and is intended to mean is that muscle is more dense than fat. So, a kilogram of fat will take up more space than a kilogram of muscle.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what does this mean for tracking results in the gym? If you can’t weigh yourself, how do you know if you’ve made any progress? Most people will tell you to go by how you look, but it’s hard to be objective about your body – especially during weight loss. I encourage my clients to take photos of themselves because even if they can’t see their progress day to day, when compared to a picture from last month the changes are a lot more obvious.
There are other changes that you can see for yourself as well: how are your clothes fitting? Are you stronger than you were before? Do you have more energy? Are the stairs to your office a little bit easier than they were before? Can you run faster, lift heavier, cycle for longer?
When I said I hadn’t lost weight, that wasn’t necessarily true. I did lose about 5kgs when I first started tracking macros and got serious about lifting. The heaviest I have ever been is 62kgs (bear in mind that I’m only five feet three inches tall!) and I managed to get down to 57kgs. I remember feeling really proud and telling a woman I worked with that I hadn’t been under 60kgs since high school. But after that initial drop in weight, I put my attention into building muscle and as it stands today I’m back at my heaviest weight: 62kgs.
But the difference in my body is unbelievable. I can comfortably squat my weight for reps, which was my max about a year ago. I can climb a mountain and it’s enjoyable – not torturous! I can climb three flights of stairs without slowing my pace and I can sprint on a treadmill without wanting to vomit. I’ve lost two cup sizes (never thought I’d be happy about that, but here I am!) I have a flat stomach and I have a bit of booty coming along nicely too. And you know what else? You can see my hip bones again.
So maybe I haven’t lost weight, but I sure have made progress. If you’re training hard in the gym but not seeing the scales move, have a good look at yourself. Are there other things, non weight related, that are worth celebrating? Stop being so hard on yourself and remember there’s more than one marker for success. Lift heavy, eat well and love yourself at every step of the way.