“I’m Not Losing Weight, Only Losing Inches.”

Standing on the scale can give you one of the most nerve-racking moments — “What if I’m not losing weight?” “What if I can’t lose weight?” It’s the moment when you get the sentence — have you made it, or not?

Just a few weeks ago, I received a long email from a reader Beth. She has been religiously following a diet that she thinks is healthy. She’s also doing some light exercises regularly. She has lost 3 inches on her waistline. But on her scale, it says she has lost 0.5 pounds — after 3 weeks of effort.

Beth couldn’t believe it, so she went to her mom’s home and weighed herself there. Despite the small variance, the verdict was close — not much weight loss was going on.

Still, she didn’t give up. And she went to Target that night and bought a new digital scale, and stood on it right after she installed batteries. Still the same.

Out of frustration, she wrote to me that night.

“I don’t know what went wrong. It’s so frustrating not seeing results on the scale because it feels as if everything I’ve done is in vain. Can you tell me what I should do?” 

Quite frustrating. And what exactly is happening?

First of all, Beth’s situation is not uncommon. I know people who has lost more inches than her but dropped nearly 0 pound on the scale.

But despite how discouraging it is, it’s in fact a great thing to celebrate!

And I’m not saying it because of this “cheering the last winner” sentiment. Growing up in an Asian household with a tiger mom, I’ve never been the last winner once without getting my ass whipped. My parents got a “treat” for that named “Leather Belt & Meat Stir-Fry” — LOL not for the “50 Shades” kind a thing but some serious parenting/disciplining sessions. Being regularly treated with that, I did not grow up with a nerve for “cheering the last winner.”

Rather, I asked Beth to celebrate because she’s in a far better position than many who have seen a significant pound drop.

The truth is: if you’ve dropped 3 inches but 0.5 pound, it means that your body is responding very well to the effort you’ve made and one thing you can clearly tell is that what you’ve dropped is mostly fat.

This is because fat loss is far more visible compared to muscle and water loss.

Fat is 3X bigger than muscle when the weight is the same. And you can visualize it as muscle being one fist size, and fat being 3 fist size.

On the flipped side, fat weight is only ⅓ of muscle weight at the same volume. That’s why if you lose 1 pound of fat, it’s much more visible than losing 1 pound of muscle…

I'm not losing weight

That’s why losing fat is going to give you the most visible result on your look but your scale number doesn’t look as significant as losing muscle and fluid.

Say if you are an 160 pound woman and have lost 5 pounds of muscle, it may not even be seen.

Therefore, if your goal is to lose fat like 99.9% of people who need to lose weight, inches are way better reflection of your result.

And in fact, if you’ve been losing a lot of pounds but not the comparable amount of inches, you may need to rethink about your approach.

Losing weight — regardless from fat or muscle — will give me a lower BMI, and a lower BMI means I’m healthier anyways. So why give a crap about it?

Lower BMI doesn’t mean you are healthier, it could mean you are sicker in certain situations.

And the difference between fat loss and muscle loss — besides visibility — lies deeply in how they make your body function.

Fat stores energy, kills your metabolism, and leads to more fat; muscle burns energy, boosts your metabolism, and burns fat.

Fat leads to inflammation which causes weight gain in return and is at the core of most diseases and symptoms in today’s world  — including diabetics, heart diseases, sepsis, arthritis, obesity, and cancer, etc.

Fat — through inflammation — causes negative thinking, stress, anxiety, depression, and even impaired memory and everyday performance.

Fat — through messing with your hormones — leads you to insatiable hunger.

Fat makes you look flabby and weak. Muscle makes you look sharp and strong.

A 150 pound woman with 35% body fat is different from a 150 pound woman with 18% body fat on every level — from how they look, how they perform, how they feel, how they think, to how they live.

So if you’ve been losing inches steadily but not many pounds yet. Keep up with the great work! You are doing way better than a lot of people who are losing pounds, and you should really be happy.

Meanwhile, here’s a reminder: do not always trust the scale. It doesn’t really tell you anything about the dynamics of your body, which fat loss is dependent on.

It discourages more than encourages. And you might feel frustrated and give up the great thing you are doing.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. more about inflammation and how to clear it is shared in this Definitive Guide To Effortless Weight Loss With Tea. You might want to learn if your body has inflammation in it, and how to clean it in the world’s easiest and fastest way possible.

10 Comments

  1. Angel

    Wow, thanks!
    I’ve experienced the same thing as Beth. Your explanation on real “fat” loss is great, helpful and encouraging. I will keep at it, with renewed thinking on this whole fat loss journey.

    1. Janet Cobb

      I’m 69, I’m 240,obese,I was 280,ate everything. Now I’m doing much better..I’m even doing stretches.i did have a big belly that I could set my plate on.not able now.im still working on my weight. I keep pushing myself.some cant see difference but I can & do. I feel good.plus I do (eft) with BradYates,,youtube.he has helped me with many issues..I tend to drop all my fat & be close to my early weight..I’ll be free then.

  2. Macsimillian

    Thanks a lot for the info, & thanks mostly for having actual scientific info instead of diet trends & hype.
    Diets ruin ppls relationship with food, we have to slowly change our habits instead, incremental, habitual changes are the only way to make lasting, healthy changes.

  3. I think this is among the most vital info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, The website style is ideal, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

  4. Janet Cobb

    I’m 69, I’m 240,obese,I was 280,ate everything. Now I’m doing much better..I’m even doing stretches.i did have a big belly that I could set my plate on.not able now.im still working on my weight. I keep pushing myself.some cant see difference but I can & do. I feel good.plus I do (eft) with BradYates,,youtube.he has helped me with many issues..I tend to drop all my fat & be close to my early weight..I’ll be free then.

  5. Linda

    I’m in the same boat, I’ve put on a pair of jeans today and had to go up two hole’s and you cannot deny it when you seen it. I also stepped on the scales and I’m still the same weight as when I started 8 weeks ago but I feel fitter and stronger than I have in year’s. When I started I couldn’t walk for 20 minutes without being out of breath and having to stop but now I’m waking 5kl in around 40 minutes easily. I’m planning on upping it a little bit by bit so to me I’m going on how I’m feeling rather than what’s on the scales.

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