Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Which Matters Most: Scale or Physique?

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been reading New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler.

What I was hoping to read was "Create a calorie deficit and lift weights and you'll drop so many pounds you'll be at goal weight in 1 month!"

But what it said instead (paraphrase) was "You must not cut calories. That's bad advice. Lift weights only 3 times a week. Rest in between. Eat more on lifting days. Weight loss will be slow or you may even gain weight but you are reconstructing your body. In the long run you will boost your metabolism and be able to burn more calories throughout the day. But ditch the scale. It'll only disappoint you and won't show how much lean muscle you are gaining."

Since I've started cutting my calories to 1200-1500 per day and doing a ton of cardio and the daily Shred, I've been losing about 3 pounds per week. I thought I had this whole weight loss thing finally figured out! I was going to be at goal weight this summer at this rate!! Come on, what's not to love?!

But if I get to goal weight and am a flabby mess can I really wear a swim suit and be happy about it? Which brings me to my fork in the road: is the scale or physique most important to me? The answer will direct me to the path I take.

If the scale is more important then I continue just like I am: cutting calories and doing cardio like crazy with some strength training thrown in for good measure.

If physique is what matters then I start taking in more calories (from healthy sources, not Ben & Jerry's), work out less (gasp!), and lose weight slower....MUCH slower.

Here's something I don't understand: if this whole cutting calories thing is so bad why do the contestants on Biggest Lower cut calories yet strength train, lose incredible amounts of weight and gain muscle? I mean, isn't that basically what I was doing except not to the extreme that they do?

These are just some things rattling around in my brain. I want it all! The quick weight loss. The physique. Everything. :) I'll probably be thinking about this for a few days and may even have to experiment a little.

Shelley mentioned yesterday about reading the same thing on another blog. Yep, seems that others are being told the same thing about calories by their personal trainers. Check out Fat to Fab.

Maybe I need to go schedule an appt. with a personal trainer to discuss all of this?

On to the foods for the day:
Breakfast: low sugar brown sugar & cinnamon oatmeal with WW yogurt and 1/2 c blueberries and a SF Rock Star
Time for grocery shopping. This is my least favorite chore. I read a poll where a lot of people actually liked grocery shopping!!

Tine for lunch: tuna salad on sugar free sourdough bread, 1/2 serving Pirate's Booty aged cheddar, 1 c grapes
I was not feeling The Shred today but I did it. Somehow today was tougher for me. The jumping jacks were tough. The jump rope....just about all of the cardio sections. The weights and abs, however, seemed easier (is that you, o great universe, trying to send me a message?)
After workout snack: Chobani Pomegranate (14 g protein!) I've watched Marisa's pictures for so long about these. She always seemed to love them. Now I know why! I think they put something in there that makes you crave them daily. They're really good!
I picked up these low cal sausages at the store. I haven't had sausage links in a VERY long time. I always hate all of the fat bits in them. Never been a big fan of the sausage because of the gristle but always loved the taste. These are 80 calories per 2 oz!
Dinner: 1.5 cups mac n cheese (made with Ronzoni Smart Taste & 2% fat Velveeta), spinach, sausage with BBQ sauce. Yum!
Dessert: the last Dark Chocolate Attune bar
So what would YOU do if you were in my shoes? Ditch the scale?


  1. I feel I am in the same shoes as you. I just finished reading the entire book but started working out last week with the workouts. I'm 48 yrs old and have tried the low calorie thing and it isn't working for me so I'm trying to increase my calories and lift heavy weights. I've also cut out the endurance cardio and am now just doing Intervals.

    There is more information towards the end of the book that really has me questioning some stuff and I want to re-read the entire book and ask the same type of questions on my site. It would be good to hear what everyone else thinks.

    I am going to not rely on the scale but am more interested in the inches. I've got a pretty solid structure that really needs to tone and shrink so I am not sure if the scale is going to show that very much. The tape measure will and will be more rewarding.

    Good for you for giving it a try.

  2. That's a tough one Kelly...here's my thought. I want to get the chub off first and then I'm going to increase my calorie/point intake slightly to maintain (this is what ww reccommends) and then work on toning at that time. I think what you are reading in this book is correct, but I'm pretty sure I would get burnt out and give up without seeing those results on the scale. But different things work for differnet people. Can't wait to hear more of your thoughts on this topic!

  3. Hey girl!! Thanks for stopping by my blog and mentioning it in your post!!!

    These fitness people/trainers/nutritionists drive me effing nuts!! I hear so many different things, but the truth is, I really think it all works, or at least most of it, just depending on what your desired results are.

    I'm an impatient person, therefore, I'm always going to rely on what the scale tells me. The nutritionist told me that I should eat 2200 cals a day. For now, that's not going to happen. I did, however, bump my calories up just this week from 1500 to 1800 (minus the ridiculous eating I did yesterday, oops), and I'm going to see what the scale says over the next couple of weeks. I knew that with doing weight training 5 days/week that I'd have to eat more, otherwise you're not feeding your muscles enough. I totally understand that. I just don't want to eat enough to slow the fat loss down to only 1 lb/wk, which is what would happen I think if I ate 2200 cals every day.

    It will be cool to measure and see if I've lost any inches every month or so...but those results aren't fast enough for me. The scale gives me my weekly fix ;)

  4. Yeah, I want instant results too.
    I've been reading Covert Bailey lately, and he's all about the importance of gaining muscle and boosting your metabolism rather than being skinny but flabby.
    I figure it's more important to have a fit body than a wimpy thin body. You can have a lot more fun doing things :)

  5. I suppose it depends on what's most important to you. I debate this subject all the time with other bloggers... and I grudgingly have come to understand and accept that their point of view is probably the correct one.

    Me? I wanted to see the results on the scale and I geared my workouts to maximize losses. Did I lose muscle in the process? I'm pretty sure I did. Now I'm trying to build that back up, which is hard damn work. But would I have stuck with it if the losses at come in drips and drabs? Who can say?

    At the end of the day, you have to work out your own priorities and go with what works best for you. There are multiple roads that lead to the same place... but there are no shortcuts.

  6. I've been thinking about this since you posted yesterday, and deep down I KNOW it's physique - because I am pretty small considering how much I weigh...and that's due to my strength workouts building a lot of muscle. But honestly, I sometimes get disappointed that the scale isn't moving very much anymore. I think the real answer is that I need to go by what size I'm fitting into, and how strong I feel (because I AM strong), and ditch the scale. Can I do that? Yes. Will I? Hmmm. It's a mental thing, that's for sure.

  7. I'm just as confused as you are! Especially since my trainer is the one who put me on a 1200 calorie diet, however they have me doing only resistance and weight training, no cardio. I'm so confused!!

  8. i know i added whey protein to my workout so that i could gain muscle faster
    i gained muscle but the scale does go up
    and thats hard to see but it usually goes back down a little at a time
    so its up to you i like the muscle alot more than flab

  9. I'm gonna go out on a limb here....

    I see you every day, and I hug you every day. I notice things.

    You have lost a LOT of weight. You have also gained muscle tone. Your clothes are literally falling off of you. You are seeing fantastic results.

    Keep doing what you are doing. You might consider increasing your caloric intake a small amount, and increasing your strength training just a little bit. Whatever you do, do it in moderation. Don't be a swinging pendulum. If you are going to make a change in your routine, do it gradually at this point, as it may only generate frustration.

    What you are doing right now is working. The weight didn't appear over night, and it won't go away over night. However, the weight that has left your body is noticeable right now. Very much so.

    Keep up the good work!
    Don't over analyze this thinking too much. Do what works. And this is working.


  10. I agree with Chuck. You are totally on a roll and in a groove right now! Stick with it and you can always take on that new approach if you feel like you need a change later.

    Thanks for the shout-out! Haha, I think we may need to start up a Chobani Addiction Anonymus :)

  11. I say just keep doing what you are doing and add the weights in too. I think they are talking more for the really hard core weight people. You need to lose weight and tone up so I think you are doing just fine. Just make sure you are eating enough protein.

    disclaimer: I'm not a nutritionist or a personal trainer (lol)

  12. Thanks for the advice and opinions. One thing to consider: when you cut calories you supposedly lose fat AND muscle. The results is a slowed metabolism. And muscle is very difficult to gain.

    Still pondering the whole issue. :)

    I'd really like to hear someone's story who has lost weight using strength training and not cutting calories. I'd love to know if that really works. Not trying to question the author of the book but it just seems to be the opposite of what I've always heard, ya know?

  13. When it counts, you won't be seen standing there on a scale.
    Justice holds a scale.....yet she is blind.
    Me, I say ditch the scale----and the heartache of the ups and downs --like a bad boyfriend....
    If you can use it as feedback, then yes.
    Next question?

  14. I don't think I would ever ditch the scale. It's important to get your weight down and gain muscle at the same time. So I guess, continue to weigh yourself and keep in mind that you may gain, but pay attention to the changes in your body.

    Great job on the Shred! I always have a tough time on those cardio sections.

  15. By the way - that macaroni and cheese looked ABSOLUTELY amazing!

  16. Physique.

    I weigh 15 pounds more than my friend who is the same height. But because I lift and play hockey I am two sizes smaller than her.
    I could care less what the scale says.

  17. I think that's what I like about WW, though, is that it adds the activity back in with the AP's so that it (hopefully) balances out... Since I started working out harder, I am earning more points and eating more of those points. I haven't noticed a change in the amount of weight I am losing.

  18. I think you can work on BOTH! My Mother-in-law use to tell me that she needed to lose weight. And I would look her up and down and tell her she did NOT need to lose weight..and then she would complain about her flabby arms.


    Muscle tone and weight loss are two seperate things that happen to (or should) work closely together.

    I think if you have a lot of weight to lose, that the weight loss should be your focus. Toning my muscles wouldn't have done a lot of good when I was 50 lbs heavier. But now that I am within 10 lbs of my goal weight I have been trying to focus less on the scale and more on the muscle toning.


I love comments. Tell me what's on your mind. :)