I am hoping to help myself in writing this post to be honest, but I know this is something that so many other people struggle with and get discouraged by too.
I am approaching the end of the second week of what I consider formal, serious competition training and have 15 weeks left to go. I started at 119.8 lbs and my trainer set my goal competition weight at 105 lbs. I’ve been training 6 days a week for an hour and a half day and following my meal plan without any cheats. This week has been particularly hard for me – I’m exhausted from training, work, and school and started carb cycling (high carb day then low carb day). Last week, I weighed in at 118.6 lbs, which is a 1.2 lb loss in a week. I was supposed to lose 3 lbs (per my trainer). I was still okay with that though and figured I’d up the ante this week – started carb cycling and even did some extra cardio for good measure.
The scale today says: 118.6 lbs. NO CHANGE. Initially, I was crushed. How could I have decreased my calorie intake, increased my workouts, and have no change on the scale? How frustrating! It also makes me a little bit panicky because I feel behind schedule on my competition prep. I’m 15 weeks out with 14 lbs left to go – there really isn’t any wiggle room for having any more weeks with no loss if I want to stay on track and hit my goal weight come competition day.
So, how do you deal with what seems to be a lack of progress/change even though you feel you are doing everything right? Here are some of the things I did:
- Put things into context. I am looking at a 2 week period here. Unless you have a significant amount of weight to lose, weight loss is subtle, incremental, and almost never linear. The general consensus is that 1-2 lbs is a healthy and reasonable goal for weekly weight loss, but that doesn’t mean that every week you will consistently lose 1-2 lbs. I am only 2 weeks in – I still have 15 more weeks before I step on stage. Let’s not be overdramatic and throw a fit just because the scale isn’t moving the way I want it to in the first two weeks.
- There are other ways to measure progress besides the scale. In fact, the scale is a pretty poor way to measure progress. The only reason I use it weekly is because I have to send my weight to my trainer with my weekly email update. If I didn’t have to do that, I would probably weigh in once a month at most. I have seen differences in the mirror and at the gym. My stomach feels a little leaner and I can see more definition in my upper body, especially my shoulders. If I can SEE a difference, why should I let the scale make me feel like I’m not making progress?
- Be realistic. I’m not going to go from where I started to looking like a ripped fitness model in 2 weeks. What exactly was I expecting to see? Even though 2 weeks seems like a long time (an eternity when you are training as hard as I am), the changes from week to week are going to be subtle and sometimes imperceptible. There’s a reason competition prep takes 12-16 weeks and not 4!
- Use frustration to fuel motivation. When things aren’t going the way you plan, you can use that frustration in one of two ways: you can let it discourage you, make you feel like a failure, and give you permission to give up OR you can use it to motivate you to work even harder moving forward. I am going to make sure that I give every workout 100% and that I am following my meal plan 100%. It’s easy to forget about or underestimate the small “extras” and “deviations.” For example, two days this week, the banana I brought for my mid-morning snack turned out to be rotten when I unpeeled it (cruel trick by the universe), so I ate a peanut butter snack bar instead. It doesn’t seem like a big deal because I thought the calories/macros were roughly equivalent, but sometimes the small things do make a difference.
I took progress pictures this morning and compared them to the ones I took 2 weeks ago. Initially, I didn’t see any changes, but after a few minutes, I was able to pick out some positive changes – my shoulders “pop” more in the recent photos, my abs do look a little more defined, my waist is narrower (especially from the back), and my glutes are smaller and tighter. Despite what the scale says, I am improving each and every week, and that’s all I can ask for. I have a quote posted on my bathroom mirror that says:
Enjoy the process…know this takes time. Just be committed to doing your best each day.
I also know that I have not been getting enough sleep this week – maybe 5 or 6 hours per night at best. Sleep is essential to rest and recovery and if you aren’t getting adequate amounts of it (especially if you are training hard), then you are going to stall your weight loss progress. I often find that my body will stay at the same weight all week and then drop 2 lbs after a rest day or after couple of days of getting a full 8 hours of sleep. I got my full 8 hours last night and although I have to train today and tomorrow, I will make sure I am giving myself some time to relax and recover.
So, I am feeling a little bit better, although I am a little anxious about what my trainer will say when I tell her no weight loss this week. What’s done is done, all I can do is acknowledge, assess, and move forward with renewed resolve and commitment!