I set the stage very early on in our training relationship. When a client comes to me stating a goal of “lose weight” I usual engage them in a conversation that goes something like this. “What if I told you that in X months, you can be wearing X sizes smaller than you’re currently wearing, would you be happy?” I have NEVER had one client respond in any other way than a resounding “YES!” So then I discuss that in reality their goal is most closely tied to INCHES, not POUNDS. That inches are what’s really more closely related to unwanted body fat, not pounds, and that a more muscular build often does not necessarily result in weight loss, but often does result in wearing smaller sized clothes and in losing unwanted/unhealthy body fat. That usually does it!
I also published an article entitled “Pounds versus Inches” which you can probably Google if you’re interested, if you can’t find it that way, I’d be happy to send you a copy if you email me – it’s something that I always give my clients at the beginning to head off exactly the situation you describe in your question.
I hope this helps.
If they are losing inches from areas that they are trying to slim down (and a body fat measurement confirms it is fat they lost) then the loss should be toted as the accomplishment itself. Praise them for the amazing work and show them that not all acheivements have to be based on weight but, can be based on multiple different facets of their physique.
I support Angie’s response wholeheartedly. Remember exercise tightens everything up nicely, causing loose clothing and a belt notch change, and of course cardiovascular benefits, but exercise does not support weight loss without caloric restriction. If the client wants more, than he/she has to committ to adjusting food intake. So your next task would be to help her journal or help her strategize a plan to reduce calories bite by bite.
One of the most successful services we provide as personal trainers is to show progress that exercise is creating a positive change in our client’s body. Girth measurements are one of the tools we use to show that progress. I’ve had many clients amazed that they were losing inches without losing weight, but they were willing to keep training because they felt better. I used 4 week intervals for re-measurements, so the difference between 4 weeks & 8 weeks was always dramatic in both weight loss and inches lost. At 4 weeks, some particular girth measurement was declining in inches, but there was not always weight loss on the scale. At 8 weeks, almost all of my clients saw weight loss in addition to inches lost. At that point, I had a working model that longevity pays off.