Beyond the scale
Let’s assume for a moment that you have over-hauled your diet in a concerted effort to lose weight. No more expeditions to the junk food drive thru’s, alcohol consumption is at an all-time low and sugar is something you enjoy only in your dreams. Food is being cooked from scratch and your relationship with veggies is back on track. But still the scale is moving very slowly or just won’t budge and you are beginning to wonder if all this hard work is actually worth it. Before you throw in the towel, know this – the scale doesn’t tell the whole story and shouldn’t be your only measure of success. In fact, being hyper-focused on the bathroom scale can do a lot of damage to your self-esteem and confidence.
What’s the solution?
Look for signs of progress elsewhere and forget about the scale for a moment. It isn’t that important to know how much force your body exerts upon the earth. Having less wobbly bits and feeling good is the main goal, right? The following list of questions could reveal that you are totally rocking your new and healthier diet and provide the motivation you need to keep going.
Do you feel satisfied after meals?
Serial dieters know all about the constant gnawing hunger that comes with “eating less and exercising more”, especially on a low-fat diet. Thoughts of food and your next meal monopolize your brain. This can be a massive distraction and time waster in your busy day. One advantage of a whole foods low carb diet that includes healthy fats and protein is that it is very satisfying. The other benefit is that blood sugar levels are kept stable throughout the day, which reduces cravings and the need to eat frequently. If you find that you are now enjoying tasty, satiating LCHF foods and have little need to snack between meals, your diet is working well for you. An eating plan that enables you to eat less without much conscious effort is going to be sustainable in the long-term and will over time lead to fat loss.
How are your energy levels?
Did you suffer from energy slumps? Was getting through a workout at the gym a struggle? How do you feel now? After a few weeks of healthy lower carb eating, most people report a marked improvement in their energy levels. Staying awake in the afternoon is no longer an issue and workout performance increases. This is because nutrient dense foods like meat, vegetables and healthy fats stabilizes blood sugar and flood your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs for cellular energy production, exercise recovery and healing.
Do your clothes feel comfier?
Go ahead, try on that favourite pair of jeans that you haven’t been able to wear for a while. Or how about that slinky black dress that you couldn’t zip up last summer. Using clothing items as a measure of fat loss success is the best way to tell whether your diet is working. It is very possible to have lost absolutely no scale weight but have gone down a whole dress or pants size. This is especially true if you are strength training to build some lean sexy muscle. Positive changes in body composition, i.e. less fat and more muscle is what one should ideally be aiming for.
How is your skin doing?
Pimple breakouts, rashes, skin that is too dry or oily or a dull grey pallor are common symptoms of a poor diet. Go to the mirror and take a good look. Is your complexion clearer, brighter, more youthful looking? Have people complimented you on your healthy glow? Your skin is the outside reflection of your internal state of health. Don’t under-estimate what a potent predictor of diet success this can be. Take any improvement as a sign that your body is getting healthier.
Has your sleep improved?
Without good quality sleep and enough of it, the body can’t optimally restore, heal and burn fat. Often poor sleep habits are self inflicted, i.e., too much Netflix, caffeine, alcohol and sugar. With a change to a healthier diet and lifestyle sleep becomes a real game changer. Do you fall asleep more easily these days and wake up less during the night? Are you dreaming more and feeling more rested when you get up in the morning? If you answered yes to these questions, rest assured your diet is working. The more your sleep improves over time, the better your body becomes at burning off those unwanted kilos.
Are you less moody?
Being “hangry” is part and parcel of having unstable blood sugar from a high carb diet or being on a calorie restricted low-fat diet. Depression has also been associated with poor diet because gut flora becomes compromised. Have you started to notice an upswing in your general state of mind since switching to real food LCHF? Are you more tolerant of those around you? This is a massive benefit for a harmonious family life as well as fostering constructive relationships in the workplace. If the dark cloud has started to lift, keep going as it will only get better the more you nourish your body with good food. Eating quality proteins like chicken and fish for example, increases your consumption of tryptophan. Tryptophan is a building block of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel relaxed and happy.
How is your sex drive?
When our diets are full of processed junk food and sugar, our hormones can take a real knock. When we are dealing with hormonal imbalance, the idea of “having a little loving” with our partners can seem as appealing as a trip to the dentist. Have you found yourself feeling more amorous than before? If YES, what amazing progress!! Intimacy is such an important part of a loving relationship, so a libido that is making a comeback is priceless.
Do you feel like you can do this?
Statistically, most diets fail over the long-term. Losing the weight is actually the easy part. Keeping it off is another story. Having to haul out your fat pants again is soul-destroying. Why do so many gain the weight back? It’s because their fat loss diet was not sustainable. For a diet to succeed over many months and years, it needs to be doable. It needs to be an ongoing lifestyle that one enjoys and not a prison sentence of restriction, hunger, weighing portions and counting calories. If you are finding your LCHF diet tasty, satisfying and relatively effortless to incorporate into your schedule, then you have found the holy grail of weight loss. Once you truly enjoy a way of eating, chances are you will stick with it and keep the weight off for good.
If you can relate to at least a few of the above, you are on the right track for sure. When assessing your progress be sure to put on a wide-angle lens. There are more benefits to be enjoyed from a healthy low carb diet than just fat loss alone. Be patient, be consistent and enjoy the journey.
Article written by Nicky Perks for Lose It magazine (Volume 26)