The “Get Up And GO” Guide

At this point a lot of people have heard, seen or read my story and asked me how I did it. How I got started? How I stayed motivated to keep going? Turns out, a lot of people ask me that question because they want to know how THEY can do it too.

Well, here we are. The “Get Up And GO” Guide. This will break down everything you need to know, do, and remind yourself in order to…well… Get Up and GO! Let’s dive right in –

First Thing’s First – Get Out Of Your Own Way!


YOU are the only obstacle in your way. Nobody can
tell you that you can’t do it. Your voice is the only voice that matters. You are perfectly capable of achieving your goals. So, stop the excuses, do what you need to do to be in a position to begin your journey…and do it! I could go on for hours, but that’s about all there is to say in this part of the guide. I’ve already talked about the “I Don’t Feel Like It Syndrome”, The Fear Monster, The Napoleon Complex and motivation itself, so we’ve covered a lot of the bases concerning why you might not have been doing anything – it’s time to figure out what’s been keeping you away from a better you and beat it. Those other articles might
help.

So What Are You Gonna Do Now?

 
No, really…assuming you’re ready to do something, you have to know what it is you’re gonna do! That means you need to have a goal envisioned in your mind. What is your goal – what do you want in the end? It’s going to be a long road, and you need a road map to get there. So, figure it out!

Are you trying to burn fat and get lean (known in fitness world as “cutting”) or get big and build muscle (“bulking”)? What do you want to look like? What size do you want to be? What weight are you shooting for? Where do you want to be in a year? I know it seems far off, but if you set your ultimate goal now you can figure out your plan and set little, more immediately attainable goals to achieve along the way. Trust me – little victories along the path to the Promised Land can do a lot more for you than you can appreciate right now.

OK, So you know where you want to go – How Do You Get There?

This is the part where you have to choose your starting point – what you’re actually going to do to start losing/gaining weight. This can be a big decision, and it IS an important one.  Megan (my fiancee) and I were between two programs – P90X and INSANITY. We were familiar with the two from word of mouth, internet ads, and tv infomercials. We had a rough idea of what we were in for and what the two were like. In the end, the differences we were deciding between were:

P90X – requires some equipment, allows lots of modification of moves, well-rounded program
Insanity – requires NO equipment, doesn’t really allow much modification (or any at all), cardio HELL.

We decided, in the end, to do P90X first. Frankly, I’m glad we did. For what we were looking to do it was a good starting point. It allowed us to ease into things modifying moves and achieving little victories, still getting the full workout done instead of failing after one or two full-out intense reps. It allowed us to feel good about our achievements and see our progress as we went along. Yes, we would’ve seen progress in INSANITY too, but the fact we couldn’t go balls-to-the-wall and get more than a couple reps might have discouraged us from finishing the program. Doint P90X also helped us build a base of muscle and shed some initial weight (read: a LOT of weight) that helped make INSANITY suck a whole lot less.

In the end, we made the right choice for us. Maybe the other choice would’ve worked for you. That’s probably the toughest part – in the end, you have to make the call. Look into your available options and choose what you think is going to serve you best. P90X allowed my 300 lb out-of-shape self to struggle for 10 pushups on my knees and still complete the workout. Progress is progress –

Because let’s be honest – you’re already lapping the guy still sitting on the couch.

Once you figure out what you’re doing, you need the tools for success.

What are The Tools For Success?

Generally, whatever the program you’re doing calls for! If you’re going to do a program like P90X that requires equipment, you need that equipment! Things like resistance bands, pull-up bars, push-up stands, yoga mats, etc can be found at stores like Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Wal-Mart, or your favorite sporting goods store. I got my resistance band set for about $12, same with some nice push-up stands. Yoga mat was about $12 for a nice one and yoga block was $5 (worth it). Trust me, the equipment is worth the investment. Don’t let a few extra bucks scare you away – it’s worth it for your health, fitness and enjoyment. I’d happily invest that $50 again to add enjoyable years onto my life. If you’re going a little more hardcore with something like P90X2 or Body Beast, you’ve probably already done some workout programs and have built up a collection of equipment already. Don’t choose a program simply because of a lack of required equipment. I almost made that mistake, and if I had, I might have gotten discouraged and quit INSANITY, and I never would’ve gotten in shape and started running.

If the program you’re doing has worksheets, trust me…print them and use them. I WISH I had printed and used the P90X worksheets – I’d LOVE to see how far I’ve come since then. Not only that, but the worksheets help you stay on track, remember what weight/how many reps you did last time, and continue to steadily improve. I thought I knew better. Guess what? I didn’t. I’ve come so far that now, in Body Beast, not only did I use worksheets, but I found better worksheets online and modified them to suit my needs. USE THE WORKSHEETS. You’ll thank yourself later.

Before and After Pictures & Measurements are HUGELY Important!

Seriously, if you take one piece of advice, take this – DO THE BEFORE AND AFTERS! You have no idea how sorry I almost was…I waited until Day 6 of P90X to do before pictures.  I was so ashamed of my body and disgusted with how I looked I didn’t even want to do before pictures. I wanted to forget all about it. I am SO glad I finally did the before pictures. I can see how far I’ve come! I can appreciate my achievements! It’s such a great feeling and now that I’m so much more fit people look at the before and can’t believe it. (you can see all the before & afters here) I wish I had taken measurements before. The only one I have is my waist size, and that’s not entirely accurate. It was likely bigger than I think.
Take Pictures, take your measurements, document your journey. Fit-&-Healthy You WILL thank yourself.

Once you do that, it’s GO TIME

SO, You’ve got direction, you’ve got a program, you’ve got the tools and you’ve taken the pics/measurements. Presumably, you have a suitable space to do your workout. Anywhere you can do your workout, use your equipment, not disturb others (too much) and not be disturbed by others will do. Don’t worry about people watching you – let the hater’s hate. I would think anyone that could see you in your workout space would be someone close to you, and I would hope someone that close wouldn’t judge you.

NOW that we’ve moved on from the haters – Get your fit test done (if there is one). Some programs, such as P90X, have a fit test you do before and after the program, whereas other programs like INSANITY have a fit test that is part of the regular schedule. Whatever the case, DO IT. Again, you’ll thank yourself later.

This Is The Easy Part

Not to rip a line from Nike or anything…but…well…Just Do It! You’ve got everything you need. Just. Freaking. DO IT! If you need motivation along the way, just think about where you came from, where you want to be, and how much you don’t want to look like that before picture again. Think about how good it feels to finish a workout and have that little success under your belt. Think of how good it feels to see yourself shrinking week to week, see your clothes fitting looser, needing to go shopping to buy new ones. Think of your loved ones and how you’d like to be around a little longer for them, or how you’d like to look better for them. If you’re like I was, think of how much it sucks to get winded going up one flight of stairs. Everyone has that one little nugget of something that will kick their butt into gear no matter how much the workout sucks, how much you’re swearing at Tony Horton or Shaun T through the TV, or how much you REALLY just don’t want to get out of bed and go work out this morning.

If you need a little outside help keeping yourself accountable, be a part of a group designed for just such a purpose. There are many on Facebook, many in real life (with real people!) too. Enough people reached out to me talking about inspiration and asking for advice that I went and made one. If you want, you can become a part of it here. I’ve been a part of one for a while and I can tell you it was definitely a great motivator on the days I needed it. Other days, it’s a great place to learn something or help motivate others. Maybe having a workout partner is what you need. I know having my fiancee there beside me every day doing the workout with me was a big deal. I tried harder. For her and for me. If she could do it, I could do it. If I could do it, she could do it. We were a team. Once we got to the end of Week 1 Day 6 we looked at each other and said “If we can get through the first week, we can get through the whole thing.” – and we did.

Fight off those last little excuses that creep into your mind! Don’t try to fool yourself and say you don’t have time: no matter how long you work, how screwed up your hours, how awful your schedule, remember:

Think you can’t do it? It’s just too hard and you’re too out of shape?
So get to it, Nancy. You got this.

Running on Rocket Fuel – Anatomy of a Power Song

So you’re running along, you’re doggin’ it, life sucks, and all of a sudden a song comes on that just hits you the right way. Your stride picks up, your breathing straightens out, there’s a bounce in your step and you’re running like you just got a power-up in a video game. Ladies and gentlemen – your playlist just gave you a Power Song! We’re back in this thing!

Wait…what?

The Falmouth Road Race is 8 days away
and I’m going on my last long run pre-race today…probably a 5 or 6 miler. I’m going through my music to make sure my playlist is up to date (there will be a playlist update article soon) and the thought struck me that there might be some people out there that don’t know what a Power Song is. Power Songs are like the secret weapon to success in the running / workout world (as far as I’m concerned)! I mean, aside from proper nutrition, stretching and hydration of course.

I searched the internet and I really couldn’t find much about “Power Songs”, which was disappointing. So, I suppose we’ll start with the obvious question…

What IS a Power Song?

A power song pumps. you. UP. You can be slowing down, losing steam, feeling like you want to stop – it’s just TOO much…and then a Power Song comes on and you feel recharged. Refueled. Ready to take ON THE WORLD. A Power Song doesn’t just bring you a second wind – it brings you a HURRICANE. If you’re already cruising along? You cruise along harder. Faster. Stronger. Each step is effortless. Each rep is lighter than the last. A power song is like Super Mario’s Invincibility Star. Every time a power song comes on I feel as amped up as the Powerthirst video, or the guy in the Old Spice commercials.

Seriously, it’s tough to put a hard definition on it, but basically a Power Song is like a turbo-shot of GO. And it will get you through the worst parts of your workout or run like you just started out and will leave you feeling fresh as a daisy. The beat is perfect, you sync up just right, you get your stride right, you get pumped up and super-motivated and you just go. It’s a great feeling. So, naturally, you’d like to know how to find the most awesome power song out there right?

You can’t.

Sorry, Charlie. That’s not how it works. You can’t force a Power Song – you can’t choose it. It chooses you. I know, it sounds strange, but it’s true…it just happens. You’ll be listening to the radio and just start jamming out, feeling everything I just talked about. You can be at the gym and it comes on. You might even have thrown one in your own playlist and not even have realized it. But when it hits you, you’ll know. It can be from any genre, it can be any length. It can literally be ANY song…and it’s different for everyone. SOMEHOW, one of my fiancee’s power songs is 160 BPM – Selena Gomez – Come And Get It. I can’t understand it. But it works for her. That’s just how it is. My FAVORITE power song right now is 154 BPM – The Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger. Every single time I hear that song I get amped up and want to run.

That doesn’t always happen.

There are some songs that I love that WERE Power Songs but just don’t get me as amped up as they used to. They’re still great to run to and work well on my playlist, but they somehow just aren’t Power Songs anymore. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it’s just a regular running song. Go figure. While I do try to load myself up with songs that have Power Song potential…

You can’t just make a playlist entirely of power songs

Really, it won’t end well. Either you’ll stop getting amped up to many of them, as happened to me, or EVEN WORSE – you’ll gas yourself (run yourself out of gas). The whole point of a Power Song is that it amps you up and puts you into overdrive…but you can’t run like that for your entire run! Maybe if you’re on a 5K you can, but anything more than that you’ll regret it. 

So, keep your ears open and give a listen – you might be surprised what songs you find yourself air-drumming or dancing in the car to. When you feel that adrenaline hit – write it down or Shazaam it and put it in your playlist! Give it a go, and if it works out as well as you think, congratulations – you just permanently increased your playlist by 1. And climbed a mountain later on.

So THIS Is Nutrition… The Basics

So apparently people are reading this blog and are getting inspired to get up off the couch and get fit and healthy. I have to say, I’m pretty happy about that. That was part of the big picture here, I just wasn’t sure when it would actually start happening. So…yay.

People have asked me to write about a number of things and to review a number of things (there’s even products being sent to me to be reviewed!) and I thought well, if people want to hear about it, why not write about it.

So here we are. Nutrition.
Someone asked me to talk about the Paleo diet but that’d be like trying to go into AP Calc without covering Algebra 1 first – so I thought I’d start with The Basics. Yes, this information is available from other sources, and there’s one in particular I really like, but it’s kind of technical and assumes you know a lot more than you might if you’re just starting out – so I’m going to try to present it in an easy-to-digest way (no pun intended).

What’s Up With The Watermelon dumbbell? 

This whole “fitness” thing, as I found out very early on, is 80% nutrition. Back when this all started I learned very quickly that in order to survive the intense workouts of P90X, and later INSANITY and so on, I had to eat right to properly fuel my body. Because…well…

As it turns out, potato skins and chicken tenders don’t get it done. 

There are a few important things to know in order to meet your nutrition goals.

How Much Should I Be Eating To Gain/Lose/Maintain?

I feel like many people don’t know that there is a magic number of calories to eat to maintain your weight. To keep this simple, we’ll call this your “Caloric Maintenance Level” or “CML”.
There are several formulas out there and a million “calculators” to figure out your CML, but MANY of them are inaccurate. We’ll use “The Mifflin St Jeor Equation” since it seems to be the most accurate one out there for those who don’t know their body fat %. This equation will give you your “BMR” or “Basal Metabolic Rate” which is the base calories your body needs to survive if you were in a coma:

MEN: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] – [4.92 x age (years)] + 5
WOMEN: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] – [4.92 x age (years)] -161

Now multiply that number by what I’m going to call “The Fitness Factor” (choose based on activity level)-
1.2 = Sedentary (Desk job, little “real” exercise – sit around a lot)
1.3 – 1.4 = Light Activity (light exercise 1 – 3 days per week, light activity job…walking a bit)
1.5 – 1.6 = Moderate Activity (moderate exercise 3 – 5 days/week, waitress or other “moving” job)
1.7 – 1.8 = High Activity (hard exercise 6 – 7 days/week, physically demanding lifestyle)
1.9 – 2.2 = Extreme Activity (athlete in endurance training, VERY Active physicaly-engaging job)

Odds are you probably fall somewhere between Sedentary or Moderate. So, multiply your BMR by your “Fitness Factor” and that is ROUGHLY your Caloric Maintenance Level. THIS IS NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE but it’s about as close as we can hope to come without some kind of sports performance lab.

That was a lot of math – now what?

So that’s your “caloric maintenance level”. That’s the number of calories you would need to eat in a day to remain the weight you are. Yes, I said that was a magic number of calories to eat to maintain your weight, but that’s only if you eat the right foods (we’ll come back to this).

I’m assuming you’d like to lose weight?  If so, you need to create a calorie deficit. What’s that? That’s eating less than your CML. You generally will lose 1 lb per week if you eat a daily 500 calorie deficit (ex. your CML is 2500 calories per day, you would eat 2000 per day to lose 1 lb per week). If you want to lose 2 lbs per week, 1000 calorie deficit. Note: this works in reverse for gaining weight.

Most sources I’ve seen out there say it’s not safe to try to lose more than 2 lbs per week. I understand your results may vary, but it’s not a good idea – GENERALLY – to go out there on a 2000 calorie deficit because you want to lose 4 lbs per week. There’s also a base level of calories they say you shouldn’t go under – I believe it’s 1200 for women and 1700 for men. I could be wrong.

Another note: EATING TOO LITTLE IS JUST AS BAD AS EATING TOO MUCH. Your body can go into “starvation mode” if it sees you’re not getting enough food – you’ll hold onto fat and may become “catabolic” – which means rather than breaking down fat and food for fuel, it will break down MUSCLE that you’re working so hard to build! (That’s bad). So make sure you keep it to a 500 or 1000 calorie deficit, NO MORE.

OK – I know how much to eat…but what am I eating?

No, the answer is not “Pizza, chicken, veggies and soda”. In order to build a healthy meal plan for yourself you have to understand what exactly your eating. There’s these things called macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. We’ll worry about micro-nutrients later – that’s some advanced stuff.

Macro-nutrients?

Don’t worry, it sounds WAY more complicated than it is. Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat are the three macro-nutrients. I’m no food scientist, but I’ll be bold here and say everything you eat is, among other things, made up of these macro-nutrients. NONE OF THESE THREE THINGS ARE BAD. Protein is not just for muscle-heads at the gym. Carbs are not bad, no matter what some “diet” programs tell you (diet is a 4-letter word!). Fat is not bad, you need a certain amount of it to survive, but too much can be bad.

It’s all about how much of each you take in. The right balance will take you a long way to getting the results you want. Many sources will tell you to follow a particular ratio – When I was following the P90X nutrition guide that’s where I got this idea from. There are also some sources out there that tell you following ratios are bad. I’ll go into all the specifics on this later, but to get you in the right direction I’ll start you with what I started with:

50% Protein, 30% carb, 20% fat. That’s what one program I did called “fat shredder”.

It’s a high-protein-based diet to help build muscle while burning fat. PLEASE do not take this as “the one true way”. This is supposed to be “The Basics” and this is just one way to get you started. I am going to go in-depth on macro-nutrients in another article, but this is a starter to take you in the right direction. Also, this works best when you’re putting forth some kind of effort to work out. Then again, life works best when you’re putting forth some kind of effort to work out.

NO. It doesn’t. I’ve seen and heard about this “If It Fits Your Macros” thing. That is wrong – it’s an excuse to eat something you want that you know isn’t all that great for you. That’s all I’ll say on “IIFYM”.

There are a lot of things that I stopped eating when I began my journey. I stopped drinking soda, I stopped eating deep-fried foods, I switched to whole grain bread instead of white, I SERIOUSLY dropped my fat intake, etc. I made a LOT of changes, some of them hard. It may not have been easy, but I had a pretty serious motivator (see my story if you need a refresher) so I stuck with it. I’m not saying you have to completely cut all these things out, but you should start scaling back so that, eventually, you can cut it out. Once again, I’ll go into more depth on what’s not all that great and why later on (it ties in with macro-nutrients) but suffice it to say, all these bad-for-you things will take your macro-nutrients out of whack and GENERALLY increase your fat intake.

This isn’t about depriving yourself. This is about teaching yourself how to eat right and give your body what it really needs, not what you’ve been made to think you want. I am super-happy with the things I eat, and people look at me sideways telling me I need to cheat once in a while. I do, it’s just not what they would consider cheating. So many people “diet” then gain it all back, say nothing works because they don’t really learn how to eat right and get better habits. I don’t “diet”, “diets” fail. “Diets” don’t teach you anything – they do the thinking for you. I just follow good nutrition.

You can too.

Our First REAL Challenge – Falmouth Road Race

So, two weeks from this very moment (at least, the very moment I’m typing this) the gun will go off and the 41st running of the Falmouth Road Race will begin. 10 minutes later the 5th corral will be allowed to start and off I’ll go. A few minutes later, the 6th corral and off goes my fiancee Megan.

Holy. Crap.

This is what we’ve been working up to since March (whether we knew it or not) when we went for that first run.

That’s great Darrell, but what if I don’t know what the Falmouth Road Race is?

The Falmouth Road Race (which is kind of a big deal) is a 7.4 mile road race from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights. The course goes by Nobska Lighthouse, along some scenic roads, along Surf Drive (and its beaches), along the beach at Falmouth Heights, all the way around Grand Ave. down to the finish line in front of the British Beer Company. They cap the total number of race participants somewhere around 12,500, and they have elite runners from around the world fly in to run this thing.

And then there’s us.

***UPDATE***

So I took a break in writing this post to actually go run the course with Megan. Boy am I glad I did We learned a lot about the course and we’re definitely better prepared.

OK, so…why are you two running this?

 I’m running as a part of Team Lanzoni. That’s the 99 Restaurants team. Team Lanzoni is a part of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute running programs. That means that I’m running to raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Why?

My Grandfather – Peter Scuteri. A loving husband and father, retired Malden police officer and pilot of the Malden PD K-9 program, Freemason, Shriner, and all-around hero. He passed away from cancer last July. The short story is, during his battle with cancer, he received care from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Dana-Farber helped my grandfather in his battle, and I wanted to use a run to raise money for them so someone else could have a fighting chance too. My other reasons for running, yes – even my new-found health and fitness, pale in comparison to this reason.

What about Megan?

My fiancee Megan is running the race for a different reason. Megan’s brother – Chris Boselli – passed away last summer from complications with heart surgery. He was 27 years old. His passing rocked her family in a way I can’t even properly describe to you. Her family set up a memorial scholarship fund in his name to honor him by helping others who share his love of theatre and the arts. Originally, Megan had been trying to run the Falmouth Road Race on a team to raise money for this scholarship fund. UNFORTUNATELY, the team was not selected in the lottery.

She still wanted to run the race. For herself and, I think, for him.

So, long story short, she (and her sister, Kim) are running as a part of the West Falmouth Library team to raise money for them. Megan went with this because, of all the fundraising opportunities available to her, this one made the most sense. Megan always has a book on her and reads like its her job. If she couldn’t raise money for her brother’s memorial, being able to support a place that helps others with the same hobby/habit/problem (hah) as her is a great compromise. While I have surpassed my own fundraising goal through the help of the people at Team Lanzoni HQ, Megan has not yet achieved her fundraising goal.

This is where I’m calling on you, faithful friends and readers.

Please visit Megan’s personal fundraising page and consider making a donation to help her towards her $1,000 goal. As of my writing, she is at $170. There’s a yard sale this coming weekend to raise money towards the goal, but it’d take way more stuff to sell than we have in order to achieve that.

Please consider helping and contributing to a great cause. Megan has until August 6th to raise the money she needs – I have a few weeks after that. It would mean a lot to me if you could help her out.

That said – the training continues. Two weeks from this moment the two of us will be celebrating a great achievement and looking forward towards the next. It’s all about the journey.

Why Workouts Fail #2 – The Scale

I tried incredibly hard – probably WAY harder than I should have – to come up with a catchy title for this article…but when it comes right down to it…it’s really simple. The Scale – the common bathroom scale – is a major reason why workouts fail.

Yeah, you heard me right. The Scale is a problem. There are a few reasons why, but The Scale is Public Enemy No. 1 in workout world. The Scale contributes in a HUGE way to what I’m calling “Perceived Lack of Results”. “PLOR” is why an incredible number of people get frustrated and just give up.  The scale can make you think you’re on top of the world or a complete and total failure.

It’s all. About. The Scale.

The Scale Doesn’t Lie – 

As a matter of fact, The Scale is incredibly honest. Too honest. The Scale doesn’t know how to lie – It knows how to do one thing: Tell you exactly what you weigh. 

Isn’t that the point?

Yes and no. The Scale will tell you what you weigh, but the problem is there are a lot of factors that play into how much, exactly, you weigh RIGHT NOW. How much you weigh over time. Your weight loss or gain trends. Stress, sodium intake, hydration (or lack thereof), sweating, fat loss/gain and muscle loss/gain all affect what you weigh. And don’t forget – the food you actually eat throughout the day weighs something too! All of these things can play into a false sense of where you’re at when you step onto the scale.

So far I’ve thrown a lot of information at you, even though it may not seem like it. Let’s take it one bite at a time (hah, I made a funny).

Stress – 
Being under high levels of stress, which isn’t uncommon these days, can lead to weight gain (or to the scale staying the same – we’ll come back to that) as discussed in this article on WebMD, this article on MedicineNet, and this post on About.com Health. I’m taking away three distinct factors from all these (and more) discussions about stress and weight gain –

1. When you’re stressed your body enters a primal “fight or flight” mode and generates a number of hormones, including Cortisol. Cortisol serves to facilitate fat and carbohydrate metabolism, but it also triggers insulin release to help regulate blood sugar. The end result is YOU craving more high-carb high-sugar foods. Helloooooo tub-o-ice cream.

2. Cortisol, a result of stress, causes your body to store fat deep in the abdominal area. This not only produces an INCREDIBLY attractive gut-like appearance in the belly, but it’s also the kind of fat store that can lead to health issues.

3. When you’re stressed there’s lots of nervous energy that needs to be expended – your body and mind have to find a comforting activity. Many times, eating becomes that comforting activity and, HOW CONVENIENT – you can go ahead and nom on that high-sugar high-carb stuff you’re craving as a result of cortisol release. Perfect.

Sodium Intake, Hydration / De-hydration and sweating-

Where does all that salt come from?

The ideal daily sodium intake is around 2,300 mg. I don’t know if you’ve looked at sodium levels in some of the foods you eat, but it can be INCREDIBLY difficult to keep sodium levels low…especially if you eat out at all. The chart to the right shows you where all the salt in your food comes from – if you look at it you’ll see why the more “processed” food you eat, and the more “processed” it is, the more salt you can’t help but take in. Increased sodium levels make you retain water (don’t believe me? Google it). Retaining water makes you weigh more – water has weight, right? Totally makes sense. If you decide you’re gonna stop drinking water and get pretty dehydrated – yeah, the scale is probably going to look a little bit better, but you’ll be disappointed next week/month when you weigh in and you’re hydrated differently than the last time.

And just like taking in or not taking in enough water can affect your weight – you’re obviously going to weigh less after you’ve just gotten done sweating out a bunch of water. In my experience, I can sweat out 1-2 lbs of water (maybe even more) during a super-intense workout (1+ hours), yours may vary, but that IS a significant amount of weight just from sweating. Your body will replenish it when you have that post-workout “oh-my-god-I’m-dying-of-thirst” water guzzle, so this is an even more temporary fluctuation than the others, but it is a weight fluctuation just the same.

Food Weighs Something – 
This one’s quick, easy and obvious – the food you eat weighs something. If you weigh yourself before you eat in the morning you will weigh less than if you weighed yourself after eating. Every time. There is no food out there that makes you lighter after you eat it (and if there is, tell me!). 

And this leaves me with my favorite point to make, and the one that, I think, really brings this whole article together:

MUSCLE WEIGHS MORE THAN FAT –
No, this is not just some kind of corny line – volume-wise, muscle weighs more than fat. Think of it like a pound of feathers and a pound of gold – it’s gonna take a super-huge pile of feathers to weigh a pound – that pile is going to take up a lot of space. The same weight of gold is small, sleek and in a tight tiny package. Same goes for muscle and fat. Fat is less dense than muscle, thus 5 lbs of fat takes up a lot more real estate than muscle.

Let’s put it another way that’s easier to understand:

  Starting to get the picture?

Muscle is tighter and denser than fat – same weight, smaller package. If the scale doesn’t move, or barely moves, it’s likely because you’re building muscle while at the same time burning fat. The more muscle you have in your body the more calories you’ll burn – your body has to burn calories to feed all the muscle on your body.  That’s a good thing. Don’t be afraid of building muscle.

No. Not necessarily.  Wasn’t the goal to burn fat? Get healthy? Get fit? Yes, you’ll lose some weight, but it’s going  to come to a point where you stop losing weight so rapidly. You might even stay the same for a while. This could be a true plateau or it could just be some muscle gain (I’ll cover true plateaus in another article), but either one can be overcome. I lost 107 lbs so far – it did not steadily come off 5 – 10 lbs per week. There were weeks I didn’t lose weight. There were weeks I GAINED a little. You have to think LONG TERM with your weight-loss and fitness goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body. Be confident in what you’re doing and believe in yourself. If you get so frustrated that you want to smash the scale and throw it out the window…well…I’ll pretend I didn’t see you do it.

So, what? I can’t trust The Scale?

Like I said – The Scale will ALWAYS tell you exactly what you weigh…at that moment…with no regard for muscle vs. fat, hydration, stress, etc. Weigh yourself at your own risk. Don’t weigh yourself more than once a week – definitely not daily. The number The Scale tells you is NOT the only number in the world that matters. Trust other measurement methods. How do you FEEL? How do you LOOK? Are your clothes fitting looser? Can you tighten your belt more? Do you see more muscle definition when you flex? Has your body fat % gone down? Don’t let the number The Scale tells you skew the image you see in the mirror.

When you start a program and take your “before” pictures, whip out a measuring tape and get your measurements – neck, chest, waist, hips, thighs, biceps, calves, etc. You’ll be glad you did, because THOSE are the measurements that count. If those are changing in a positive direction, the weight will follow. Believe in yourself and stay positive – don’t let The Scale make you think you’re failing.