Posted by: Frustrated | 2009-01-30

Working out - no loss on scale

I am 28 years old, five foot 3 and weigh 67.5kgs

I have been following a balanced eating plan and working out 5 days per week with no loss on the scale although I do feel much firmer and my finace says my bum feels smaller - but he has big hands and he loves me so I cant take what he says as true - he is in constant fear for his life.

My eating plan is as follows :
Breakfast : 1 cup bran flakes with a little 2% milk and 1 small tub vitalinea yoghurt (fat free)

Snack : Apple or tomato lite cup a soup

Lunch : 2 slices whole wheat bread with 1t no oil mayonnaise and cucumber OR tuna (70g) and salad OR chicken breast (70g) and salad OR 70g cooked pasta and curried veg (carrot, tomato, onion, peppers and baby marrow)

Supper: Light crumbed chicken fillet / Fish fillet / and 1 cup mixed vegetables / salad with 1t low oil dressing. OR Curried pasta as for lunch OR 1 cup cooked chicken breast dry fried with lemon onion and peppers served with 1 cup pasta.

Dessert : 2t light hot chocolate with half cup milk and half water (no sugar)OR 2 small blocks of chocolate from a slab

I drink coffee 3 times per day - no sugar and about 2L water per day

Work out : 30 minutes cardio (1 day Jogging next day orbitrek - I train hard enough that I can just bearly hold a conversation)
Free weights bicep curls and tricep extensions (2 sets of 12)
Leg lifts 2 x 25 per leg
100 crunches
100 pelvic tilts (not sure what its called - you lie on your back with legs bent and lift your bum off the floor)?

I do this 5 days per week rest days being Friday and Saturday or Friday and Sunday

Is my eating plan okay? Is my work out plan okay? What can I do to see a change on the scale - I really want to lose at least 5kgs by July

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

HI there

There's certainly nothing wrong with the exercise plan. It is pretty sound. You might, in the course of the next few weeks look at increasing the cardio, or splitting your days so that some days are just cardio, others are mixtures. But for now, it's pretty good.

I can't comment on the diet - I'd be speaking out of turn, but it's something that I think is important enough that you need to see a dietician about. If you really want to control everything about your progress, this is important.

The issue of gaining weight is a tricky one. I would be curious to know how long you have been doing this for - a month or 6 weeks, perhaps? It's actually not that unusual to gain weight through exercise, and there are a few factors that can cause this. One is your current weight. It seems that there is an ideal body weight for each person, and the body is so clever that it knows just how to keep you there. So, it may be that you just have no weight to lose, and so from that point of view, you are better of going for toning and improved fitness and not worrying about the scale.

The second is diet - I've already mentioned that I'd suggest seeing a dietician about your eating plan. But the other thing is that people often subconsciously increase the energy intake when training harder. Let's say you train harder and use a few hundred more calories a day - you have a little more to eat or drink, and it means that the balance is still there as if you didn't train harder. I am not saying you should count calories, I think that is risky and hazardous at best, but I would say be aware of what you are eating. The other thing that often happens, is that because you are now exercising every day, you might take it a little easier during the rest of the day. In otherwords, you may be a little less active outside of the gym, either because you are subconsciously trying to save energy, or because you are actually very tired from training and don't get around as much. Either way, you are likely to use less energy, and that may even cancel out the effect of training.

Finally, the most likely issue - any form of training will increase muscle mass. People seem to have a conception that weight training causes muscle mass to rise, and cardio training burns fat. While this is largely true, you must remember that there is considerable overlap. So, let's say you are cycling, this means that if you are cycling along at 90 revs per minute this basically means that you are doing 90 contractions of the muscle per minute. Do this for 10 minutes and you have 900 muscle contractions, and so even though the force per contraction is low, you will still build some muscle. What i am saying is that even though you are not doing only weight training, it's still feasible that you will gain some muscle by doing cardio.

Very importantly though, this is nothing to worry about. In fact, it's a good thing, and I guess the bottom line is that you must really focus on how fit you are, how you are feeling and perhaps how you are looking, rather than on the scale. Even aiming for centimeters can be misleading, especially early on, because it takes much longer and can be a little bit of a futile and very frustrating goal. So my advice is really to go for fitness - try to get faster and fitter on those cardio sessions and the results will take care of themselves.

Keep up the good work, remember that it takes time, but have faith that you are on the right track!


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