Hey All: I have a 46 year old client who has been working hard for about 8 weeks. She looks and feels great, her blood pressure and RHR are down, her energy is up, and she’s wearing clothes she said she hasn’t worn in years. According to her she is 2 dress sizes down. But the scale won’t move! She’s bouncing between 204 and 200 for almost the entire time. I’ve played with her calories, her diet has improved (still not exactly where I’d like it) there are no thyroid issues….thoughts? My guess is I;m not getting the whole story about her food (though she’s pretty dedicated and committed) or someone in her household is fiddling with her scale settings. Ha! Seriously though…thoughts??
Weight is a term of measurement and its correlation changes in body composition can only tell you so much. I usually avoid scale measurements and stick with body composition.
On another note, what people eat and what people say they eat are two separate things. One of the most flawed aspects of nutrition research.
I like what’s already been said here, so I’ll just add a personal experience. I have a female client, also in her forties, who weighed 330 lbs when she first started her fitness routine a year and a half ago. She lost 35 lbs and had kept it off for nearly a year, which was a record for her. Her BP, RHR, cholesterol & clothing size had all improved, but the scale just wouldn’t change. She sees a nutritionist regularly and is extremely diciplined about her diet, so she wanted advice on the fitness component of her routine. She started training with me in January.
I saw she was doing a lot of distance-based cardio & flexibility but very little strength training, so I had her prioritize strength & interval training in her routine. I told her many benefits increased lean mass would have on her health, but warned her in advance not to go by the scale alone. She lost a pound or two in the first two weeks but then the scale stopped moving again. By the end of March the scale went up 3 lbs. I’m not gonna lie, she freaked out! That is, until the skinfold calipers registered a 3% bodyfat change. I showed her that she had lost over 10 lbs of fat and added 13 lbs of muscle.
We’ve kept at it and this week she reached 40 total lbs of weight loss (5 lbs since January). The number seems minor compared to the feats she can perform now. You should see this girl! She can do things she never thought she’d be able to a few months ago. The point is, sometimes it just takes time. People lose body fat at different rates just like people gain muscle at different rates. Sometimes the plateaus in one area (like the scale) are measured as significant changes with another method. For my client, her overall health was her greatest concern. She was able to focus on the positive and has made changes she can live with for the rest of her life. I’m extremely proud of her progress. It looks like you’ve got a client to be proud of too. Just keep doing what you’re doing (training, measuring, testing, & training some more). She’ll have plenty to show for it in the end.
I agree with many of the others. The scale, especially for women, can be stubborn at times. I trained a mother of 7 in her 40’s for 8 weeks and from the very start, I told her that her energy level and dress would be the best indicator of progress. My initial assessment included weight but I stressed that the scale isn’t always an accurate measure. In the end she reported feeling more energized and was happy with the loss of inches….the scale didn’t reflect her success.
Obviously, your client is sticking to your diet and workout plan or she wouldn’t see the kind of progress in her BP or dress size. Use alternate means of assessing like body fat and waistline/hip circumference.
In the end, keep encouraging her to look at the positive changes and ignore that fickle scale : )
Thanks everyone for your responses! I have taken measurements regularly and she is coming down on those, I just can’t help but think we should see some corresponding weight loss somewhere along the line. =) Happily, she *is* more focused on how she feels and her internal numbers than she is on the scale and is thrilled her clothes are fitting better. =D Thanks again!
Hi Terri. The weight WILL eventually start coming off if indeed all is how you’ve described! But, I would completely focus my client AWAY from the scale and look at the MANY advances that she’s already made (e.g. lower blood pressure, smaller sized clothes…). Each of these advances relate much more closely to overall health and fitness than measuring her success based on the scale. I’ve worked with many overweight/obese women clients and try to hammer this approach into their heads before we start, and consistently throughout our work together.
I published two articles on this very subject and would be happy to share them with you if you send me an email.
I hope that this helps.