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When the scale sucks: 7 better ways to know if your nutrition plan is working.

by Precision Nutrition on Saturday 11 November 2017

 

The bathroom scale rarely marks the milestones along your path to a fitter, healthier body.

Our bodies are complex. They change in many ways — ways that are often intangible or subtle. We feel and function differently, though we can’t always say exactly how.

Long before we lose any weight, small signs of progress sprout and flower.

1. You feel satisfied after meals

With your new nutrition plan, you’re eating slowly. Choosing fresh foods. Leaving less room in your diet for processed foods that rev the appetite and never seem to fill you up.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, beans, and legumes are taking up new space in your body, nourishing you, helping you feel satisfied. They signal to your gut and brain that It’s OK. We are OK. We are safe and comfortable and fed. We can stop now.

2. You have more energy

You wake up one minute before your alarm. Your eyes are actually open. You even feel… kind of… happy?

You don’t need seven shots of espresso throughout the day just to cope with your work inbox. You pay attention, even during the 3pm accounting meeting.

A good nutrition plan gives you energy — constant, steady, all-day energy rather than a brief buzz and a crash. If you get it right, you’ll start experiencing this over time. Sometimes even before the scale needle starts to move.



3. You’re sleeping better

Now, with your nutrition plan, you’re getting enough good stuff to make the brain chemicals you need.

You’ve switched to half-glasses of wine with dinner, and — thanks to your newfound energy — laid off the afternoon espresso. Speaking of dinner, it’s a smaller portion that doesn’t leave you breathing in little huffs and give you nightmares about being chased by cheese.

In short, your body is no longer in an always-on-battle-stations-go state of chemical panic.

All of a sudden, you seem to wind down an hour before bedtime without a problem. You follow your sleep ritual and conk out easier than ever.

4. Your clothes feel just a little looser (or tighter)

Muscle and bone are denser than body fat. When we build this lean mass, we often get heavier but smaller (at least in certain areas).

If you’re male, you may find your shoulders broadening, chest filling out, back wings fluttering, and a new case of “hockey ass” from muscular glutes… but your waist shrinking.

If you’re female, you may find that your scale weight goes up but your clothing size goes down (and you ace your body composition scan!).


5. You’re in a better mood

The phenomenon of “hangry” is so well known that chocolate commercials joke about it, noting that “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.”

You may also not be your best self when you’re deprived of the nutrients your brain needs to keep you sailing on an even emotional keel, without crashing into the rocks.

Improving our mental and emotional outlook with good nutrition can show up in surprising ways.

6. You’re stronger and have more endurance

You’re using the same weight with more range of motion. A month ago, you couldn’t squat — you could only do a power curtsey. Now those knees, hips, and ankles are bendin’ and behavin’ like Plastic Man. You can pick up your laundry, get off the toilet, and squat down to pick up your toddler like a pro! In another month, you might take on your other kid at basketball.

Good nutrition has improved your recovery and energy levels. Again, you’re giving your body the stuff it needs to do its job of making you stronger, faster, better, and fitter. Your cells are sucking in oxygen, dumping waste products, making more enzymes, and overall high-fiving each other.



7. It feels more like a lifestyle than a “diet”

“Diets” are a chore. They’re another to-do that you superimpose over your busy life, and another boring, strict, overly complicated task you can’t wait to quit.

When we do quit — because of course we do, it’s temporary, right? — we’re back where we started. Back “off the diet”. Back to processed foods, never-ending hunger, frustration, and weight gain.

Eating well stops being A Thing and just starts being your daily life. 

You naturally gravitate toward whole foods. You have a plan. Prepping meals in advance and keeping healthy backup options on hand is a regular part of your weekly routine now. 

You don’t “mess up” anymore. You still eat the birthday cake and the Christmas cookies and maybe go ahead and snarf the tub of popcorn at the movie theatre. You don’t consider this “bad” or “guilt-inducing” anymore. They’re just an occasional part of enjoying life. You savour them and then go back to eating mostly fresh, whole foods like you always do. No biggie. 

Yep, this is also possible. It’s a natural and normal consequence of eating and exercising in a sensible and sane way. And it’s a sign of progress, regardless of what the scale is doing.


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