Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Scale doesn't tell whole weight loss story

Are you addicted to the scales? Do you weigh yourself daily and maybe even several times a day? And more importantly, do you know what that sometimes frustrating number really means? "Most people focus only on losing weight, not the fat," Cedric X. Bryant, chief exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, said.

"Preserving lean tissue and losing body fat — that's what you need to strive for."

Why scales can be misleading

1 Weight changes throughout the day, fluctuating as much as five pounds, depending on how much water you drink and what foods you eat.

2 The scale cannot tell the difference between muscle and fat, which means a person might have a lower body weight, but high levels of fat. Because muscle takes up less space than fat, you may appear slimmer.

3 Quick weight loss that you see on the scales is mostly water, which means it's a temporary weight loss.

4 Through cardio and strength exercises, you will be gaining muscle while losing body fat; weight on the scales may remain the same, but you will notice you are losing inches.

At-home ways to track weight loss

Check measurements: Measure waist (navel level), fullest part of chest, largest part of buttocks and upper thighs. Take measurements at the same time of day once a month.

How your clothes fit: Check out a pair of jeans that felt a little tight before you began personal improvement. When clothes begin to feel a little looser, you know you are improving your ratio of muscle to fat.

• Energy levels increasing: You should begin noticing more endurance and an increase in energy. The more fit you are, the more fat you will burn.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Reach her at

Photos by SCOTT KEELER | Times

Mountain Climber

An advanced cardio exercise that strengthens the core and builds leg endurance. Begin in a pushup position on hands and toes. Keeping hands on floor, bring one knee in toward chest, continuing to alternate legs, as fast as you can. Work at your own pace; beginners begin with slower movement. Repeat 30-60 seconds.


Strengthens lower and upper body. Standing, hold weight in left hand, shoulder height, palm facing inward. Abdominals contracted, step left foot forward into a lunge position, lowering back knee toward floor; heel off floor. Lift weight directly upward, (close to ear), then lower weight to shoulder level. Return to standing and repeat 8-12 repetitions on each side.

Phony Jump Rope

A good cardio exercise. Pretend you are jumping rope, turning rope with wrists, not arms,…. landing gently on your feet. You may add variations such as alternating feet, jumping with one foot or jumping with high knees. And if you don't want any jumping movements, just lift your heels and go through the motions of jumping rope. You might want to try alternating 30-60 seconds of "jump roping" with marching or jogging in place.

Scale doesn't tell whole weight loss story 05/26/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 26, 2014 7:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics


     Winner of the week

    Peter Antonacci. Gov. Rick Scott tapped his go-to utility player to lead his Florida job recruiting agency, Enterprise Florida, having previously picked him for his general counsel, to lead the South Florida Water Management District and to serve as Palm Beach state …

  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 19: A peregrina spends the whole day under the weather, and part of the day under the table


    Day 19: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente: 25.4 km, 7.5 hours (Total for Days 1-19 = 454 km (282 miles)

    This list pretty much sums up my day:

    Eat two bananas

    Walk 13.1 kilometers


    Walk 6.2 kilometers


    Eat half an apple

    Walk 6.1 kilometers

    Crash< …

  3. Storm routs Cleveland


    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  4. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  5. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.