It’s Not All About Weight: Exercise for Strength and Endurance

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • You sweat your way through a step workout, then lift weights. You dutifully walk a brisk 3 miles – and the needle on the scale hasn’t budged! You know what? That’s OK. And here’s why.

     

    From a very young age right on up into our Golden Years, many of us keep a sharp eye on the bathroom scale.

     

    After all, the scale often signals an imminent change in dress size, or whether or not you can continue to wiggle into those tight jeans. A pound or two in the wrong place can severely impact your wardrobe – and in many cases, your self esteem.

     

    Hey, you know what? I’m blowing the whistle on this behavior right now. 

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    OK, I’m a scale-watcher myself, dutifully stepping up for the “bad news” each Saturday morning. I’ve followed this routine for years; nay, decades. 

     

    But over the past few years, I’ve finally realized that the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, the part of the story it tells can often be rather insignificant, compared to other measures you might use to gauge the success of your exercise program.

     

    I’ve reached this conclusion after watching my weight remain the same, give or take a couple of pounds, over the past 3+ years. Yet, during that time, I’ve become way, WAY stronger than I was before. And my endurance is much better, too. Simply put, I’m in better shape.

     

    So why didn’t I lose weight?

     

    Simple. Whatever fat I lost has been replaced by muscle, which actually weighs more than fat. So, while I’m healthier, fitter, and feel much better, I don’t weigh any less. 

     

    Frankly, I’ve missed the “reward” of seeing my weight go down; but I haven’t let that disappointment discourage me from exercising, nor force me into changing my routine.

     

    I originally took up weightlifting to counter the bone-weakening effects of long-term hormone therapy I was taking to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence. And lifting weights has slowed (though not stopped) my bone loss.

     

    But better than that, I find I can easily lug two heavy sacks of groceries, one in each arm, where formerly I would have struggled with even a single heavy bag. I can help my husband carry awkward objects around the backyard – a hammock, a large barbecue grill. And rearranging furniture is something I can handle on my own now, thanks very much.

     

    My exercise routine also includes some kind of aerobic activity each day – either a long, fast walk outdoors, or a trot on the treadmill. Yes, it can be boring; thank goodness for my iPod and Kindle. But now, when my son suggests a hike, or the dog really, REALLY needs a good, long, fast walk – I’m up for it. No uncomfortable huffing and puffing; no dragging behind the group. I can go, and go, and go… all the while enjoying the scenery and some good conversation, rather than hoping and praying for the next rest stop.

     

    So, next time you weigh yourself and see no change – or even perhaps a small uptick – don’t be discouraged. If you’re eating right and exercising, it’s only a matter of time before you become stronger, healthier, and fitter in all ways – despite what that nasty scale is telling you.

     

     

Published On: September 28, 2014