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Navigating weight fluctuation when trying to drop body fat

The Better Body Group’s Danae van den Berg returns with some sound advice.

It’s a situation we’ve all found ourselves in and it’s hugely frustrating when your progress not only halts, but the weight on the scale starts climbing up again! This particular road block is the biggest reason why people give up on their fitness journey shortly after starting.

We’re all familiar with the story: losing weight means training hard and eating less. But after the first few weeks of success, the scale starts being needlessly cruel and you end up feeling discouraged. It’s at this point that we generally give up and reach for the nearest family-size bag of crisps.

Weight loss can feel like an uphill battle, but before you lose all hope, please remember that weight can fluctuate according to these easily explained factors:

Salt – Having more salt in your diet means your body tends to hold on to more fluid. This is in an effort to balance your sodium levels and can easily be the reason why your weight hasn’t shifted.

Strength training – weight training will also lead your body to hold on to water as your muscles try to repair the microscopic tears obtained in your workout. No cause for alarm but don’t let it put you off your strength training either! Lifting heavy is one of the best things you can do for your body and it’s key to increasing your resting metabolic rate.

Constipation – Surviving purely on caffeine and breakfast bars on-the-go? Ensure you’re getting enough fibre in your diet to promote healthy bowel movements. Fibre can be found in foods such as berries, beans and green vegetables.

Menstruation – Do I even need to get started? As I’m sure you’re already aware, a woman’s monthly cycle plays a large role in weight fluctuation. Be aware of your cycle’s stages to avoid panic when the scales jump around.

Alcohol – our final culprit. Alcohol dehydrates the body and you’re likely to feel its effects the days after a big night out, especially on the scale.

So how do we navigate this minefield of pitfalls, some avoidable and some not? I know that me telling you to ‘not let it throw you off’ is easier said than done.

My advice? Don’t weigh yourself every day. I promise you nothing good can come of it! The scales can be so useful in monitoring fat loss but with weight fluctuations, you can end up doubting yourself and questioning your training routine. If the scales are a must for you, aim to weigh yourself once a week.

My best suggestion is to move away from the scales and focus on how your body feels. Do you have more energy? Do your clothes fit better? And if numbers are a must, get out a tape measure and find the circumference of your hips/thighs/ abdominals. If you’re sticking to your calorie deficit then it is scientifically impossible for you to not lose weight.

Lastly, change your mindset. Your body is your home so don’t be too hard on it. We all have days where we feel discouraged with our weight so on those days focus more on enjoying the feel of movement: walk with a friend, take a Pilates class or catch up on Netflix on your gym’s spin bike. We’re so lucky to have our health, and your grandkids aren’t going to love you more if you’re more bloated on some days of the month.

Now get out there, enjoy your training and trust the process!

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