Fitness Tips: Why your scales don’t seem to budge, but your body is changing

Have you adjusted your eating habits by cutting out foods like pizza, pasta or bread? Are you working out more every day? Have you done all the right things you’re supposed but still not seeing changes on the scale? Or maybe you’ve noticed that your clothes are baggier than usual and you have more energy than but yet, your weight remains unchanged?

If you have said yes to these questions – you are not alone.

Putting on weight is so easy – just one weekend of binge eating can cause a few pounds in weight gain. But it seems to take weeks or months even to take that weight off. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Have you noticed that when you step on the scale on a Monday morning your weight might seem higher than on Friday morning?

I know, it’s not fair. Losing weight takes so much time and hard work. But don’t stress too much over numbers on the scale. Scales are just one method for measuring your weight loss progress.

But… muscle weighs more than fat. It’s muscle. That’s the reason.

This is a tired old argument that people use often in discussions online. In the simplest terms, no, muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle.

Sounds complicated, right?

It doesn’t have to be. Think of it this way instead.

Muscle is more dense than fat.

What does that mean tho?

It means you are probably burning off fat while the muscle is either staying the same – or you are building muscle. And that’s a good thing! Even though the scale might frustrate you – there are other ways you can measure progress.

I’ve already written an in-depth article on this over here – Measuring Progress without a Scale – but I’ll give you a brief overview of something you can do instead to measure your progress.

Water weight

One common thing I see in the group is that people get really excited when they lose a few pounds right at the start of their journey. And that’s fantastic – you should feel proud if you’re seeing progress on the scale.

The first few pounds is usually just water weight. What is water weight? That’s a good question.

Water weight refers to excess water in the body. It can be caused by hormones, pregnancy, or even inflammation (like water in the knee) – this hurts. My knee used to swell to unrealistic proportions during certain times of the month.

For women, hormones can fluctuate from 5-10 pounds. If you’re like me and you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS), then you know what this feels like when your cycle hits.

You may feel bloated around your stomach or may experience swelling in the feet. I’ll suggest just staying off the scale all together during your monthly cycle.

What helps me during this time – ironically, is drinking a lot of water. Doing cardio helps to keep joints loose. Using cold or hot packs can also help with the pain. Keeping yourself hydrated is key. A nice warm bath can also ease some of the swelling. Throw in some bath salts and it’s pure heaven.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Tracking your progress

Track Everything – this includes starting weight, measurements and what you’re eating each day and how much you exercise. You can use a spreadsheet or fitness trackers like a FitBit or My Fitness Pal.

You don’t have to do this for your entire journey. But it does help to figure out what works for you.

Take monthly selfies – use the same outfit for your monthly selfies to track how your body changes. You may notice your pants are fitting looser around the waist or the legs of the pants are baggier.

These are all good signs. It means that your body is changing, even if you don’t feel like it is.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Set realistic goals

One thing I see often in the fitness group is people come in with very unrealistic fitness goals in the early stages. Some think that losing 20 pounds in a month is healthy.

The rule of thumb that my group practices is this:

A healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. Even that is high. Some people might lose a lot of weight early on. But this is more likely water weight rather than fat.

Losing weight too quickly, will likely result in loose skin and possibly, dehydration.

Don’t pay attention to what you see in reality fitness shows. I’ll write another post on this – what you don’t see is the extreme and unhealthy measures these participants make to meet their goals.

It’s not fat, it’s water weight.

Another common thing I see in the group is that people get really excited when they lose a few pounds right at the start of their journey. And that’s fantastic – you should feel proud if you’re seeing progress on the scale.

Keep in mind – the weight you lose early on is usually just water weight. If you led a sedentary lifestyle and had a lot of weight to lose, then losing weight might seem really easy at first.

After a few weeks, or months, people often tend to become very frustrated when progress seems to slow down or stop all together.

The important thing here is just to keep up the hard work and stay motivated. Here are some more tips to help you meet your fitness goals.

How to lose water weight: 6 ways


Start a blog or journal – my fitness challenge was a motivator in keeping this blog going. Writing weekly or monthly progress reports helps me to see how much my body has changed and how much I have changed throughout this journey. Sharing my journey with others also helps to keep me accountable. You don’t have to make your blog public – you can write under a pen name or make it private.

Join a fitness group – I run a fitness group on an adult website. I’m mainly just there for the discussion groups. Running the group as a moderator keeps me in check. How can I encourage others to lose weight and be healthy, if I fail to meet my own fitness goals?

Motivational friend – find a friend who is serious about weight loss goals. You can get together and do physical activities together like go for a bike ride, go swimming, hiking, or just go out for an evening walk. Finding someone with similar health goals is important so you can cheer each other on and support each other during difficult times.

Have patience

The most important tip I can give you – and one that I even struggle with – is to have patience. I know, I know. It’s tough. When you can put on 5 pounds in one weekend from beer and pizza with friends – it just doesn’t seem fair.

That’s why surrounding yourself with positive influences and friends who can help you on your weight loss journey is crucial. Find accountability friends, or a work out partner, or someone who just wants to share the journey with you.

A lot of people I know found great success with programs like Weight Watchers which gives you tools to help lose weight. This isn’t for me. I do well when I can set my own goals and stick to my own schedules – and work out from home.

Most of all, just be kind to yourself and allow yourself treats in moderation. It will help curb cravings and prevent binges happening. And sometimes, it just feels good. Right?

Monday Memes: Be Kind to Yourself – Be the Body of Christ

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