It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking that because the number on the scale is dropping, we’re doing a great job and should keep it up. The thing is, the bathroom scale can’t tell what it is that you’re losing. After all, that’s why – if you’re anything like me – you either weigh yourself in the buff or blame that extra pound this week on a heavier outfit than you’d been wearing the week before. Because the scale doesn’t know the difference between you and that massive oversized sweater dress.
That said, not all weight changes can be blamed on fat – or sweaters, for that matter. Just because you get on the scale and see the number going up or down it doesn’t mean there has been any change in your body fat. This is something I learned the hard way from trying to lose weight too quickly. It’s also why steady, gradual weight loss is generally considered to be way better for you than trying to drop an extreme amount of weight in a short period of time.
If you follow a diet that is too extreme or you exercise improperly, you could actually be burning something other than fat. All those achievements you’re seeing on the scale could actually be a growing problem building in your body. It could be that you’re actually burning other body tissues such as muscle.
Fortunately, there are signs that you can watch for to help you spot issues of burning muscles and body tissue before they become problematic. They include the following:
• You’re losing weight faster than expected – Fat doesn’t burn quickly. It burns gradually. The odds are that if the fat seems to be magically melting away from your body, you’re losing something other than – or in addition to – body fat. The first thing you’re likely losing is water. The fastest type of weight loss is water loss through dehydration. This weight comes back as soon as you’re hydrated again. That said, if you’re losing fat faster than expected and it doesn’t come back in a few days, it could be that you’re burning some of your lean muscle, not just your fat.
• You feel fatigued a lot – If you find yourself feeling sluggish a lot, it might mean that you’re overdoing your workouts and/or under-doing your diet. That sluggish feeling can mean that your muscles are overworked or are starting to burn away. More signs of this problem are that you used to be able to do a certain workout and now you just can’t seem to keep up the intensity.
• You’re not seeing any progress – If, despite your best efforts to eat well and keep up your regular workouts, you haven’t been seeing any progress in your strength or size, your muscles may not be getting what they need to recover properly. You’re burning them because they aren’t getting the nutrition or time required to heal and improve.