Losing Weight but not Size, Losing Size but not Weight, Losing my Mind, not Weight or Size.

My blogs “I’m losing inches (but not pounds)” https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/im-losing-inches-but-not-pounds/ and I’m losing weight (but not size) https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/im-losing-weight-but-not-size/ have been the two of the top four most viewed four here on My Trainer Chris.  

I fully expect that one will fall off the top four chart when I post a blog titled “Win a Date with Chris”, but I haven’t gotten around to jotting any blog notes on the topic as of yet.

The popularity of my weight loss/size loss blogs brings me to today’s post.  The love-hate relationship with the scale


I don’t see the scale as an inherently bad or good thing.  The good part is that I can see the scale when I step on it.  

I have a morning routine that I’ve been following for a little while and thus far things have been going exceptionally well.  This is especially surprising for me since I was not formerly the type of guy one would describe as a morning person.  Retiring with more than two decades of military service can apparently swing the pendulum either way, with some people continuing to rise early and others saying “I’m sleeping past 5 a.m because I can.”


Guys: Here’s yet another way to annoy your partner.

One thing that is not part of my morning routine, and frankly never has been, is checking my weight on the scale.  In my opinion this act has an amazing ability to set the tone for the rest of your day.   I don’t like giving up that much power to anything.

Where the scale is a great thing:

It’s portable and can be done in the privacy of your own home.

It can be bought at a reasonable price.

It can help provide a boost of motivation.

It gives a quick estimation of where you currently stand.

Where the scale is not such a great thing:

The scale provides a numeric reading, that like most other sources of information may not give the most accurate reflection if you losing fat or not.  I think of it as the MSNBC of fat loss.

The scale is not the alpha and omega and should not be thought of as such.

The scale can also provide demotivation if the number on the scale does not even meet your lowest levels of expectations.  I’ve seen that heartbreak firsthand more than a few times and it never get easier.  This fellow trainers is a price you pay for caring about your client.  


If your wardrobe closet looks like this please contact me immediately. 

For my weight loss/size gain clients, I initially advise they check their weight based on my highly un-scientific, yet always honest “favorite clothes test.”   It’s simple and quite straight forward.  

(1) Find the clothes you currently love wearing the most, it doesn’t matter what it is. 

A t-shirt and shorts counts just as much as a little black evening dress or polo shirt and khaki’s.  What’s important here is that YOU LOVE how you make those clothes look.

(2) Take a long hard honest look at yourself in the mirror and while not looking at the mirror.  Mirrors provide a visual reference, but looking away from the mirror means you have to rely on your body to tell you how it thinks the clothes fit.


“I love how I look in Orange, but my waist and hips look like a single unit.”

(3) Date and List the areas of the clothing that you like, dislike or feel could use improvement.  “Too tight in the butt, but good in the thighs.”  “Arm holes are perfect, waist is too tight all around.”  Be honest, fair and highly specific.

(4) Put your clothes away, exercise, eat smart, enjoy your day and re-test in two-weeks. 

 “But he said wear clothes that I make look great right now, I want to be smaller/bigger!   Yes I did, trust me on this one.  If you’ve read this far I imagine you’re willing to read a little further.

 “Wait….he didn’t say get on the scale and record my current weight!”  That’s right I didn’t.  Why? Because clothes will always tell the truth. Besides, I did my due diligence and already recorded your scale weight, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and circumference measurements.

Hypothetically imagine that body weight was constant and there was zero variability.  This morning I weighed 170 lbs post-evacuation and my most dehydrated state.  My body fat reading said I was at 14% body fat.  Numerically this works out to 146.2 lbs (64 kg) lean muscle mass and 23.9 lbs (10.8 kg) fat mass.

In a typical week my weight fluctuates between a high of 175 lbs to a low of 167 lbs.  In a dieting stage I might drop down to the 160 without even seeming to try.  The reality of the situation is that scale weight is subject to some variation.  My actual weight is probably right around 165 lbs.  The asymmetry of my -3 lb or =5 lb weight swing may be more common that I originally thought, but -3/5 will not be common to everyone.


I’m pretty good with plate and kettlebell weight, this stuff will take a little while to figure out.

“Scale weight” can be expressed in the following formula:

Scale Weight = True Weight + Weight Variance

True Weight: The weight that you would be in the hypothetical situation I presented above.

What is weight variance: In a nutshell weight variance is the little things that add or subtract from your weight.  

Glycogen stores. This relates to carbohydrates you consume. For every gram of carbohydrate that your body stores via glycogen, it also stores three grams of water. If you are carbohydrate-depleted (such as in the Atkins Diet), you will be at the lower end of your variance. Conversely, if you feast on carbohydrates, you will be at the upper end of your variance.

Water retention and depletion. If you consume more sodium than usual, you will probably retain water. If you drastically cut sodium, you will release water.  Your body adjusts its levels accordingly through hormone response.  This is not something you can do forever and it good. Combat athletes in MMA and Wrestling have to cut weight for the weight class and bodybuilders and physique competitors cut water to improve their appearance on stage.  Both of these situations are meant to be temporary.

Menstrual bloat. Women retain water during their cycle. In some cases quite a bit more than they retain off-cycle. This is where monthly weight checks come in hand.


“My scale needle moves like a epileptic stripper.”  

Your scale can swing erratically when dieting often due to the fact that glycogen is a much more volatile than fat. Fat loss occurs slowly, while glycogen levels can swing wildly. Let’s see what happens at both ends of glycogen storage.

The Full Tank ( You’re bloated from binge eating)
Binge eating typically means more glycogen will be retained afterwards and you’ll see an increase in the scale. This is only water weight. This is often the case when clients return from holidays or party weekends and complain that they’ve gained all the weight back.  I could be honest and give the client the biological facts that  If they find themselves gaining a ton of weight after a bad day of dieting, that is it only temporary and that their true weight didn’t move much, it’s simply subject to the laws of thermodynamics. Conversely, I could look them squarely in the eyes and say “yep, we needs to gets to some sprinting and lifting of heavy things, you ate it….you’re paying it.”


Weight Loss in 3 E-Z Steps!

(1) Download photo of handsome and charming trainer. 

(2) Post photo just over your eyebrow level on your refrigerator.

(3) Consider what sort of things this handsome and charming trainer will do to you when he finds out you ate 5 doughnuts.

That ought to do it.

Water bloat does seem make you look fatter than actual fat.  A person with a true weight of 200 lbs and bloats to 205  lbs  look fatter than if his/her true weight were 205 lbs.  If you find yourself gaining a ton of weight after a bad day of dieting, remember, this is only temporary. Your true weight hasn’t moved much; it’s still subject to the laws of thermodynamics.

While dieting, take weekly pictures of yourself when you adhere to your nutrition plan. I advise taking these photos in two-piece bikinis or shorter shorts for men.  Covering yourself up with a big one-piece swimsuit or near pant length board shorts will not do.  After you’ve lost some weight, take pictures again after eating wildly for a day. In the Las Vegas area we have numerous buffets willing to take your facilitate this test.  Find the two pictures that match up with the same weight. You’ll notice that you will look fatter in your latter pictures, even if your true weight ls lower.

The Tank is on E: Carb Depletion
Paleo or ketogenic style diets usually cite the rapid loss of weight at the very start, as well as the rapid influx of weight when they cease their low-carb diet. This isn’t due to some magical powers from copying the diet of pre-historic man. Rather, this is due to the rapid purging and subsequent replenishment of glycogen.  

Clients will also often gain lean mass and/or increased glycogen capacity during a diet, especially with a mild deficit. For that reason, scale weight may remain the same even if fat loss is occurring.

It’s a story…

The scale provides a “word”, in this case the word happens to be a number.  A single word never tells the whole story. Words need to be strung together to form sentences, which in turn form paragraphs.  Put enough paragraphs together and you have your story.

Waist circumference.   Waist measurements are far more useful at determining overall direction of fat loss. The most comprehensive method is to take measurements at the navel, two inches above, and two inches below.  Compare with last measurements to see if circumference decreases, stays the same, or increases respectively. Add the sum of the three measurements to determine overall direction that fat loss/gain is occurring.  Short course goal is to get female clients to a waistline below 35 inches (below 32 if Asian) and males below 40 inches (38 if Asian.)

Strength.  A baseline series of tests must be conducted in order to assess strength.  The tests need not be complicated nor should the exercise programming revolve around the exact techniques in the test.  If strength is measurably increasing, then you are likely increasing your weight from lean body mass as well.  My favorite tests: Air Squats, Push-Ups, Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups and an Abdominal Exercise.  As many repetitions the athlete can perform in 2 minutes each with standardized break period in between tests.

If I were to program 100% around those exact exercises then there is the distinct possibility that the athlete would biologically adapt to getting better at taking the test and only get as strong as they would need to be.

Bloat.  Bloat means variance is going to happen with your measurements. This will vary from person to person, but it will be areas that seem to swell up after a binge. 

As the trainer, or at home you want to read “true” weight? as much as possible.   You should not interpret measurements when bloat is high. Wait for it to subside (especially if it’s caused by a menstrual cycle) and eat clean for a few days (if you hit up a couple of your favorite buffets.)

or do it,be mad at the scale, see me and we’ll talk about some sprinting and barbell love.


One thought on “Losing Weight but not Size, Losing Size but not Weight, Losing my Mind, not Weight or Size.

  1. Pingback: “I’m losing inches! (but not pounds!)” | My Trainer Chris

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