The same day Philadelphia got hit with a last blast of snow, I went clothes shopping. The experience confirmed what I’d believed for months: while the scale has stopped moving, I’m still slimming down.
Last June, I wrote a Yahoo article responding to the AMA’s designation of obesity as a disease. Since then I’ve continued to whittle away my 58 pounds of pregnancy weight. After losing 20 pounds last year (for a total 33 pounds lost), I hit a frustrating plateau. I bounced back up five pounds, going up and down a pound or two on successive weeks, while my clothes kept getting looser.
Could this be related to resuming weightlifting? Or perhaps the intense kickboxing aerobics class I just started taking? I wasn’t certain until I tried on those tops. I’d gone down a size since last summer, even though the scale has gone up. In my experience, it normally takes about 15 pounds of weight loss to equal a full size, so I was a bit surprised. Yet, the clothes didn’t lie. It wasn’t just one brand, either; across the board, I was now a “M,” not an “L.”
Really, I shouldn’t be surprised. Since last January, my measurements have gone down 4 1/2 inches in the chest, 5 inches in the waist, and 3 1/4 inches in the hips.
Being the geek that I am, I sought more information. Is it really true that muscle weighs more than fat? According to Julianne J. Taylor, registered nurse and nutritionist, it certainly does. In her article about fat versus muscle, she explained that 5 pounds of fat takes up three times as much space as 5 pounds of muscle. This would explain all the comparison photos accompanying the article, showing people who had either gained weight or stayed the same, and yet looked noticeably more fit.
Another medically reviewed article by writer Kristen Stewart confirmed Taylor’s statements: stating that fitness experts recommend tossing the scale and focusing on how you’re feeling, how your clothes are fitting, and how your body has changed.
So it seems I wasn’t just fooling myself: If you’re consistently eating healthy foods, doing cardio and building muscle through weightlifting or resistance, chances are that your body will get fitter and healthier, whether or not the scale agrees.