How to lose weight without stepping on a scale

We all know we can be better, stronger, leaner. But we often don’t know how to get there. The first step toward doing that — without frustration and disappointment — is to know where you are starting from. That begins with a proper assessment.

If a mid-50s woman walks  in our door says is, “I need to lose 20 pounds” she may already have  set herself up for failure. That’s because she is associating weight with health and fitness. If she doesn’t have enough muscle mass and her postures poor, no amount of weight loss will help her achieve her goal.

What’s more, if she “diets” heavily she will slow down her metabolism and compound the problem.

If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you need to ask yourself, 20 pounds of what? Fat? Water? Muscle? Focusing on weight without proper body composition won’t get you into that size eight.

What’s the answer? Step one, is to figure out where you are. The best way to do that is to consult a professional trainer who will test to see if you body has:

• Strength
• Balance and stability
• Muscular endurance
• Cardio-respiratory functionality
• Absence of pain
• Correct range of motion at each joint

Following the assessment, the trainer will determine if your goals are realistic, and then wil identify the steps to get you to your goal. If you know where you are starting from and where you are going, eventually you’ll make it.

For our mid-50s woman, that meant recalibrating her goal — taking the scale out of the equation — and creating a program to improve her muscular deficiencies so she could begin to make healthy strides forward. We let the fit of her clothes determine the success of the project. She eventually dropped two full sizes without “losing an ounce.”

When is it time to seek the help of a trainer?

1. Your doctor has given you a clean bill of health, and may even be telling you to “diet and exercise”

2. Your clothes are getting tight

3. You have pain or difficulty with everyday activities

4. You have balance issues; i.e. you have to sit down to put your pants on

5. You are sitting for most of the day

6. You have tried slimming down on your own and haven’t been successful

How to select a professional trainer:

1. Ask for recommendations: As with anything else, personal recommendations are always a great place to start.

2. Check the trainer’s credentials: At minimum the trainer should be certified and experienced; many trainers have college degrees in exercise science, sports training and related disciplines.

3. Make sure you ask the trainer if he or she has dealt with someone who had the same concerns you have. You want to make sure they have enough experience to help you with your particular issues.

4. Be wary of someone who promises too much too soon. Remember it is a journey. You want someone who will be realistic but motivational about what training can do for you, without specifying a timeframe. Don’t fall for someone who says they will get you in shape in a month or two, and don’t press the trainer to meet your timeline. There is no way to tell how quickly or slowly you will progress.