Your Weighing Machine Can Lie

No doubt you have a best friend or a close crony in whom you confide all your fears and fantasies. The feedback is instantaneous and satisfying as the friend laughs and cries with you or advises you. But don't ever make the mistake of treating your weighing scales as your best friend in fitness land. "What!" you exclaim. "But how will I know whether I have lost weight or not?" We don't mean that you should shun weighing yourself altogether.

Just don't get ruled by your machine. It is not the ultimate Mr. Know All of the state of your fitness. Unwittingly, sometimes it can give you the wrong information.

How? For example, suppose you have gone on a crash diet for a week where you have not only skipped every possible meal, you have even kept away from the dinner table in case just the sight of food make you put on weight! You feel weak, a little light-headed. So what? you tell yourself. I feel much lighter too.

You step on your weighing machine and the arrow obligingly points out that you are three kilos less. Wow! I've done it! you cry jubilantly. Hold it. Before you do a triumphant jig, listen to the voice of reality.

Being overweight means that your body has excess fat. If, in that one week, you have not exercised but only starved yourself, you have lost only water, not fat. And your weighing machine, being the mindless nuts-and­bolts mechanism that it is, cannot differentiate between water-loss and fat­less.

And this vital difference comes back to haunt you when you stop dieting. As you begin to eat a little more normally, the three kilos return and you are disillusioned. On the other hand, suppose you have dieted and exercised for a week. At the end of it, you step on the scales and you want to sink through the floor - because it shows you have gained half a kg! What a waste, you moan. After all my efforts alii have managed isto gain weight! Exercising has only made me fatter! That is where you are wrong.

Exercising, by its very nature, can never increase your fat. What it has done is to increase your lean muscle tissue which you need to help you burn off fat. The fact is that when you begin to exercise your body builds up lean tissue faster than it burns fat. As you continue to exercise, this lean muscle tissue, in turn, burns that excess fat off and you begin to lose weight.

So, you see, your weighing machine cannot tell the difference between water, muscle and fat. What you should be concerned about is fat-loss, not mere weight-loss. In the early weeks, though you may not lose in kgs, your clothes will feel looser. That is the first sign that your body is ridding itself of fat. The weight loss registers later.

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