When will I drop pounds and not just inches?
April 7, 2010 3:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm losing inches, but not so many pounds. How long til the weight drops?

I'm 5'6", female, mid-30s, about 174 pounds. I started Weight Watchers in early January at 184 pounds, so I've lost about ten pounds since then.

In February I started a fitness boot camp. I go 3 x/week, and it's a great, intense workout for me. I'm usually too sore to do anything on the other days except walk or play with my dog and kids. I didn't lose a lot any weight during the first few weeks of bootcamp, which I attributed to muscle soreness and such. I did do measurements again after four weeks, and had lost quite a few inches around my bust, waist, hips, and even thighs, where I tend to carry more weight. My instructor was concerned I wasn't getting enough protein, so I have been tracking that carefully and supplementing with whey. And in general I'm eating healthy, lots of green veggies and mostly measured portions, without much processed food. I'm staying on plan with WW.

I took about two weeks off between bootcamps, and lost five pounds! I still did some exercise, so it wasn't muscle loss. Plus my pants and shirts demonstrate I'm losing something--my go-to clothes from January are now way too big.

Now I'm in the second bootcamp, and my weight isn't budging. Our workouts include a lot of muscle work--squats, lunges, hill sprints, dumbell work, etc, and I'm usually at least a little bit sore for a day or two after each workout. I can feel I'm stronger and fitter by a long shot.

But my ultimate goal is not to be a muscle-bound 175 pound gal. I'd like to lose some pounds. I know I need to be patient, but it's hard for me to ignore my weight.

Are sore muscles somehow heavier? When will my weight drop? Am I simply still consuming too many calories? Or do I need to check in with a nutritionist?

(And this is anonymous because I'm so lame I really don't want you know my weight.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You shouldn't really focus on weight. You're losing fat, and building muscle. Muscle is denser than fat (that's why your clothes are too big) but it has weight as well. As long as you are moving towards your aesthetic goal and feeling great, what does it matter how much you weight?
posted by aeighty at 3:32 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]

But my ultimate goal is not to be a muscle-bound 175 pound gal.

I swear on a stack of pancakes that will never happen unless you eat like a lumberjack and inject yourself with male hormones. Serious, intensive weightlifting will only make you strong and lean. If you want to lose fat more quickly, consume fewer calories than you burn*, continue weightlifting, and engage in High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

There are multiple schools of thought on restricting carbohydrates as a major aspect of diet-related fat loss. It's a little beyond the scope of this comment but searching past AskMe threads will turn up a lot of resources.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

If you're concerned about being too "muscle-bound," I think the usual advice is to mix in aerobic exercise with your workouts to make your muscles more toned than bulky. Otherwise, what aeighty said.
posted by domnit at 3:50 PM on April 7, 2010

You're building a ton of muscle, which weighs considerably more than fat.

If you are sticking to your WW diet, with appropriate portion sizes (get a scale and measuring cups, if you don't have them already), and aren't cheating, you will lose weight. Are you eating your "activity points"? A lot of people don't and report higher losses. Also, after a few months on WW, it's really easy to let your portion sizes creep up, as you figure you've got this down... i know it happened to me.

If you're being truly honest with yourself about being on plan with the WW (and if i'm saying you're not... it's just hard!), then I'd have trust in the system a couple months more. I know I sound like I work for them... I don't.. I'm just really happy with my progress so far.

By the way -- I'm you, minus the exercise. I started WW in mid-November being you, exact same age, weight and height. I'm at 138 lbs now -- 8 more to go :) And I don't really exercise at all, outside of walking every day. You're doing better than me... you will get there! Seriously... keep it up. The plateaus suck, and it sounds like you're on a hell of one, but you will get past it.
posted by cgg at 3:54 PM on April 7, 2010

I see the previous posters have responded specifically to the exercise, so I'll try to tackle the Weight Watchers side of things. I'm a Weight Watchers Lifetime Member - I lost over 30 pounds and I've maintained that loss for 16 months now.

Are you eating all of your daily points, weekly Flex points, and Activity points? If not, you may not be eating enough food and that is stalling your weight loss.

If you are already eating all of them, are you calculating your daily points, and your activity points correctly? From your description, it sounds like your bootcamp workouts would be considered High intensity for activity point purposes.

I noticed you say "mostly" measured portions - how often are you not weighing/measuring foods that are high point?

Are you a meetings or online member? If you do meetings, your leader is a great resource for questions like this, particularly if you can show him/her your food trackers.

Please feel free to memail me, if you like - I'm happy to talk about what worked for me on the plan.
posted by xsquared-1 at 4:00 PM on April 7, 2010

This NYT post from a few days ago backs up Optimus Chyme's claim; basically, if you want to accelerate your current rate of weight-loss, keep up the intense weight training, and maybe throw in some aerobics to boot. have fun!
posted by Chionophilia at 4:01 PM on April 7, 2010

Why would you care about your actual weight? You're getting trim and fit and almost certainly look and feel much better. Weight is just a number.
posted by The Lamplighter at 4:06 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

Weight loss typically isn't smooth and even. It's pretty normal, for example, to go for a week or two with no change, maybe even a little gain, and then after a big meal and a glass of wine the night before discover the next morning that you're two pounds lighter and steady losses resume. I'm afraid for women it seems like menstrual cycle fluid retention confuses matters even more.

Just for you, here is a graph of the last couple of months of my weight. The scale on the left is in kilograms. The blue dots are actual morning measurements, and the pink dots are the average of the previous seven measurements (a 7 day moving average). See how lumpy the blue dot line is? Day to day, there isn't much obvious trend. (The flat bits with no dots are where I forgot to take a measurement).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:22 PM on April 7, 2010

I can't advise on how to accelerate your weight loss, possibly the answer lies in more cardio on your off days. But I just wanted to say that when I did three months of bootcamp, I didn't lose a pound but had a really incredible amount of inch changes and lots of weight redistribution. So I think that comes with the territory - more muscle being put on in some places, loss of fat in others, just evens out in the end.
posted by marylynn at 4:50 PM on April 7, 2010

unless you have weak floors at home, don't worry how much you weigh. ;) waist size and bodyfat percentage are much better indicators of fitness/health.
posted by subarctic_guy at 5:20 PM on April 7, 2010

Seconding/thirding/whatever the idea that you should be excited about the inches loss, and not worry so much about the weight. It annoys me that WW uses weight as the primary metric for success. Body fat percentage would make much more sense.

If your goal is to look better, inches are a much better indicator of success than pounds.
If your goal is to be healthier, inches are a much better indicator of success than pounds.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 8:27 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why the weight matters if you're dropping in size. Can someone see your weight?
posted by RawrGulMuffins at 11:26 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh hey, you sound a lot like me! 35, female, 5ft 9.

If anecdotal is of any comfort to you, heres my time scale.

Summer 2009 - decided needed to take more exercise (sedentary lifestyle), started playing team game 1 hr week for the summer. Hurt and ached like hell. No idea what weight I am.

Autumn 2009 - team game finished so started to take weekly Spinning class, thought I was going to die after each class.

November 2009 - re-evaluated the diet, started counting calories, got a Wii fit. Discovered that weight was 187 pounds. Still Spinning.

January 2010 - joined the gym, determined to get moneys worth and started going three times a week on average, still taking Spinning class. Discover treadmill, cross trainer, rowing machine, weight machines. Discovered that sports shoes and sports bra wholly inadequate, buy new ones. Lots of hurt and ache but at least not from inadequate clothing.

Feb 2010 - 184 pounds. Can run 5k on a treadmill if I really want to. Aches getting less but notice that I'm probably not fuelling myself very well for my new routine and start trying to eat more protein.

March 2010 - 176 pounds. Realise that I really don't enjoy trying to run 5k so start running a bit less and do more lifting and rowing etc. Aching a lot less, clothes fitting alot better, sleeping like a baby.

Today - 173 pounds. There are definitely times that I felt I had hit a plateau where the weight just didnt move much as I dropped inches and gained muscle but looking at it long term (spreadsheets ftw!) I'm going in the right direction.

Around about February I really started to feel like something was going wonky, my period almost didnt happen and I felt under the weather in general, like I was getting a cold, which seems to be quite common for new exercisers. Upping the protein seemed to really help here.

So I've probably been exercising seriously for about a month longer than you and I really feel that my body has only just adjusted to the routine and I'm starting to see a more steady weight loss. I've lost weight with just diet and less exercise before now and it felt very different, this time round it's been a far more plateaus.

I found alot of advice and resources via AskMefi on this journey so far, I've found the most useful sites that people reccomended to be stumptuous.com and nerdfiteness.com. You'll get there soon, best of luck!
posted by Ness at 5:23 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ack, typo. Nerdfitness.com.
posted by Ness at 5:26 AM on April 8, 2010

You're shrinking - in other words, you're succeeding - and you're unhappy because some arbitrary number isn't what you want it to be?

Generally people care about exercise and losing fat either because they want to be more attractive, or because they want to be healthier. From your description, it sounds like you're accomplishing both goals.

The fact that you're asking this question anonymously because I'm so lame I really don't want you know my weight tells me that you think your weight means a lot more than it does. Your weight is not some 1-to-1 measure of your attractiveness as though it were your character level in World of Warcraft or something. I know our society has taught people, and especially women, that their weight should be a closely kept secret, but there's really no reason for that. How often do you think the following conversation has taken place:

Guy 1: Man, look at that woman. She's beautiful! If I could date someone as beautiful at that I'd be the luckiest guy alive. Do you think she'd give me her number?
Guy 2: Dude, she weighs 190 pounds.
Guy 1: Eww! Never mind then.

Believe me, that conversation has never happened in the history of universe. Worry about the inches, sure. Worry about how you look in the mirror. But unless you weight 400 pounds, don't worry about your weight.

And you also don't have to worry that you'll turn into a "muscle-bound" gal. Become very muscular is extremely difficult even for men, and even harder for women. Building as much muscle as you can at this stage can only be a good thing.
posted by Vorteks at 6:50 AM on April 8, 2010

Unless you weight = unless you weigh.
Become very muscular = Becoming very muscular.
posted by Vorteks at 6:57 AM on April 8, 2010

I think this is pretty normal. I've read tons of stuff online that say that building muscle is one of the best ways to weight loss, muscle consumes more calories when at rest, etc. Many people track their measurements instead of weight, or you should get body composition test - track yourself based on that. Once you have other numbers to look at, your weight won't be as meaningful.
posted by Locochona at 8:15 AM on April 8, 2010

I took about two weeks off between bootcamps, and lost five pounds! I still did some exercise, so it wasn't muscle loss.

Right, aerobic exercise is associated with fat loss rather than muscle gain. Generally, though, when losing weight, you're going to lose fat and some muscle. Ideally not too much muscle; getting enough protein helps prevent muscle loss.

Are sore muscles somehow heavier?

Not exactly, but in a sense, yes. Often, soreness is a side effect of muscle work. Doing muscle work is what causes you to build muscle, thus increasing your overall muscle mass. (Very generally, muscle work -- even if it doesn't leave you sore -- causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers, which are filled in by the protein you eat.)

So, it seems that overall, you're not experiencing net weight loss during the bootcamp. You are experiencing net weight loss between the bootcamps, though. This makes a lot of sense: between the bootcamps, you're mostly losing fat. During the bootcamp periods, you're probably losing fat, but you're also gaining muscle, so you're not seeing a net loss during the bootcamps. But you're smaller because a kg of muscle takes up less space than a kg of fat.

When will my weight drop? Am I simply still consuming too many calories? Or do I need to check in with a nutritionist?

Basically, it seems like you're not always experiencing a net loss in weight due to the fact that you're gaining muscle. If you'd like to focus more on fat loss than muscle gain, then focus your workouts more on aerobic exercise than on muscle work. Still, make sure you're getting enough protein so that you don't lose muscle mass while you're losing fat.

You could certainly see a nutritionist to ask about all of this and make sure that you're eating the right amount. A nutritionist might also be able to measure your body fat percentage, which is much more meaningful than your weight (or your BMI).

Good luck!
posted by sentient at 12:07 PM on April 8, 2010

« Older I want my head to be bumpless   |   Westchester foreclosure advice Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.