Dear Lisa, Don’t Quit
Posted by Michael Vacanti
or any woman frustrated by the bathroom scale.
Please do me one favor:
Don’t quit, keep going.
You want to lean out.
You want to feel stronger.
You are five weeks into your plan.
And you don’t really care about the scale.
But it would be nice to see more than one measly pound of progress.
Your strength is up, right?
Your waist measurements are down, right?
Your clothes fit better, right?
You are making progress!! Don’t quit.
You are close on your nutrition.
You are drinking plenty of water.
You are sleeping as much as your schedule allows.
You are doing all the right things, don’t quit.
Your friend is pushing zero-calorie-lemon-cleanses.
Your coworker claims eating meat will make you fat.
Your grandma says you look too skinny already.
This all sucks… but don’t quit.
Let’s drop this weird but kinda cool literary device thing for a minute and talk science.
What’s going on??
Why The Scale Isn’t Moving
Even Though You ARE Making Progress
You Are Storing More Glycogen
When you begin a new program, your total training volume usually increases over your previous routine.
Increased training volume can lead to an increase in your body’s ability to store carbs and water in your muscles.
This retention of muscle glycogen increases scale weight thereby offsetting the scale progress that would be reflected via the body fat you are losing. You can read more about it here.
You Are Building muscle
This point might get me in trouble with the fitness-is-black-and-white lawmaking jury of internet armchair quarterbacks.
But you could very well be gaining muscle, even in a calorie deficit.
I have trained too many women and watched them maintain scale weight or lose scale weight while seeing increased total lean body mass over multiple months of DEXA scans.
So, while any body fat measurement is imperfect, the fact that many of my clients have built muscle in a deficit has led me to loosen my stance on the surplus/maintenance/deficit muscle gain question.
And it is a likely reason why the scale is being so stingy early in your program.
The scale will start moving.
Trust me. I have seen it time and time again.
Increased muscle glycogen capacity will only be an issue temporarily.
And while you might be able to build a bit of muscle in a deficit, you can’t continue this forever.
Sooner or later, the fat you are losing will be reflected on the scale.
Just don’t quit in those first six weeks.
When your dopey friend guilt trips you to eat french fries and drink fireball shots on a random Tuesday.
When your weird uncle who you only see at Christmas is blowing up your phone with Herbalife scam pitches.
When your bathroom scale is laughing at you for the entire first month of your program.
Don’t quit, keep going.