Can you get smaller and not lose weight? Sure can! I’ve noticed my body has done this a few times in the past, and it’s doing it again now. This can be seen in my progress pictures above as there’s no weight lost on the scales in the last three photos.
I remember the most noticeable time that I got smaller without weightloss was when we lived in New Zealand the last time. I was in my early fourties. My answer to managing my weight back then was exercise – and lots of it!
Exercise was the only thing that had ever helped me manage my weight, and my exercise addiction worked well for a number of years. However the illusion that it would work forever was shattered as the years rolled on.
The belief I held as a younger, more naive version of myself that I could continue to exercise like a mad woman to manage my weight for the rest of my life was somewhat delusional…
After dropping 45kg in my early thirties and maintaining my weight quite well for most of that decade, I’d found myself losing motivation to exercise, and beginning to regain some weight in my late thirties and early fourties.
Well I started smoking again when I was thirty seven (after seven years as a non smoker) and that, along with a move back to New Zealand from Australia contributed to my dwindling motivation to exercise, and resulting increase in weight. (Changing countries just makes a difference for me for some reason…)
I was also perimenopausal and having a pretty rough time with my hormones.
So when I finally quit smoking for the last time at age fourty one, I got back to a more committed exercise routine, and then eventually joined the local gym.
My Fixation With The Scales: Getting Smaller But Not Losing Weight
Like many women, I have a serious obsession with the scales and my weight. (I actually know what weight I was at every stage of my life from the age of eleven…) So when I joined the gym back in 2005 I weighed 82kg.
I was having regular assessments with the personal trainer and my body fat would be assessed each time using calipers.
I was also weighed and measured, and we would have short, but meaningful discussions about my continuted failure to achieve my goals. This was because for the first year of my gym membership I gained BOTH muscle and body fat according to his calculations.
I was actually getting bigger! This wasn’t what was supposed to be happening.
And the only movement on the scales was up and down, then up and down – and up and down again, much to my frustration!
I was exercising like a woman possessed!
And yet I perservered…
I was weight training five days a week (like heavy weights! I was squatting over 100kg!) I was also walking, and then eventually running, between 5 and 8km, six mornings a week.
At the same time I walked about 2km each way back an forth to work, five days a week. I walked this route four times per day because the gym was half way between home and work, so I’d walk to work, then home at lunch time with a stop at the gym for weight training and sometimes a run on the treadmill. Then I’d walk home for a bite to eat and then back to work again.
I also often did 6-8 hours of massage per day at work.
I also often did classes at the gym once or twice a week in the evening. My favourite class was Les Mills Body Attack! Anyone who has done that class knows that it’s not for the faint hearted…
In amongst all that, I was also training for some small triathlons and duathlons so my training included the running I was already doing, along with riding my bike and swimming.
During this time I also experimented with a number of different ways of eating, and followed the Body For Life program for a few months. But still the scales hardly budged.
What did happen though was that over a two year period, I eventually started getting smaller and went from size 16 down to a size 12 even though I’d only dropped 2kg on the scales.
I weighed 80kg when I finally cancelled my gym membership to move back to Australia and was down three dress sizes.
I was also very fit, and very strong.
Why Was I Getting Smaller But Not Losing Weight?
If you’re a scale addict like me, the lack of the number going down can definitely mess with your head and your motivation. It does with mine! Even though I KNOW that the key to being okay with it is to focus on ‘fat loss’ and NOT ‘weight loss’ that number on the scales still has an effect…
What happened when I started going to the gym all those years ago was that my body reconfigured itself. It was building lean muscle, stronger bones and tougher connective tissue, while (eventually) reducing fat.
The number on the scales was irrelevant!
But still now, all these years later, I continue to weigh daily… and I when the number moves down I feel (like some sick drug effect) that instant gratification. When it goes up, I fear that I’m failing.
But What’s Happening Now?
In the comparison pictures of my back (above), you can see there’s a noticeable change over the past two months.
BUT there’s only 4kg difference between the pictures, and in fact there’s no real difference in weight between the last three pictures at all.
My weight has just been doing its ‘up and down’ thing, with up to 1kg difference within those up/down variations.
So what’s going on?
Slow Weight Loss With Intermittent Fasting
I don’t seem to have any of my usual ‘glamour shots’ in swimwear from when I was at my heaviest weight to share and that’s probably just as well. 🙄 But I had already been slowly losing some weight before starting on the Keto diet in March, and so the pictures taken in February are actually an improvement on where I was at in 2018-19.
You see I’ve been doing intermittent fasting (IF) off and on in a kind of haphazard manner, without a whole lot of commitment for the past couple of years, and I’ve been just gradually dropping a bit of weight here and there without actually really realising how much.
My focus was on where I wanted to be and I was obviously just ignoring where I’ve come from and what was happening because it was incredibly slow.
So before I started eating Keto in March, I was actually down a total of about 10kgs from my heaviest weight since moving back to New Zealand. When I thought back to how heavy I’d been, I was actually surprised at what I’ve achieved without even trying too hard.
So contrary to the belief of some, intermittent fasting can and does work on it’s own. Many people lose just with IF, and although it’s been slow for me I’m actually quite impressed now that I’ve realised what the total is! 🙃
The Blessings That Come From Progress Pictures
I learned the value of progress pictures years ago, and although it’s tempting to NOT traumatise yourself with the before pictures, just do it!
The pictures above (in the purple bikini top) are from almost ten years ago and there’s about 15kg and three months between them. I was having a lot of issues with my thyroid back then. I had all but stopped exercising and I was struggling with both my physical and mental health.
I lost the weight in these pics by doing the HCG diet for a solid 90 days, and I did progress pictures every single week like clockwork. Sometimes there was no noticeable change from one week to the next, but understanding the power of incremental change is an amazing thing. When comparing photos from larger timespans, there was always positive change!
Tip: Take progress pics in swimming togs or underwear. As traumatic as that feels, it’s easier to see the minor changes when there’s not much change to see.
So if you haven’t heard of the HCG diet it’s basically a 500 calorie a day diet that is supposed to be done in max 45 day rounds. It includes limited ‘allowed’ foods in specific amounts, and uses the HCG hormone to encourage your body to burn stored body fat for energy.
I might write more about it in the future, because now that I’m thinking about it, it’s basically a low calorie version of keto + IF with some hormonal manipulation.
The HCG Diet?
There are various versions of the HCG diet and it’s been used for years. Dieters can use either injected HCG (difficult as it requires a doctor who is willing to do this) or you can use drops (easier as you can buy the drops online like these ones). I used drops.
The HCG diet was the first ‘diet’ that actually allowed me to successfully lose weight. It is somewhat controversial, but it worked for me at the time and many people have great success with it even over the long term by doing multiple rounds.
Prior to trying HCG, every ‘weightloss diet’ I ever tried had failed miserably. My body would lose initially and then stop.
Every – single – time…
For me the HCG diet was a good learning curve because while doing this diet, one of the things I learned was how much progress pictures can help with motivation!
My sister and I started the diet together and we would weigh each day. She lost way faster than me at the beginning and I’d get disheartened. But because we were both taking progress pictures each week, I could see my body changing even when I hadn’t lost as much weight as I thought I should have. That kept me going.
So now I take progress pictures! And back to the question…
Why Am I Getting Smaller But Not Losing Weight?
This time I don’t know the answer. Where before I’ve always thought it was an increase in lean muscle and a reduction in body fat because I was exercising, this time I’m not so sure because I’m not exercising.
At the moment I might do some light yoga once a week and maybe 10 minutes with some weights also once a week (if I’m lucky). But that’s about it. I haven’t even been walking regularly!
My work is sometimes kinda physical when I’m doing more massage, but that’s something I’ve been doing for years so it’s not a reason for my body to build more muscle.
So I’m guessing it has something to do with reducing inflammation. That’s the only thing I can put it down to.
But even with inflammation, the general consensus is that weight lost is water loss, but my weight hasn’t changed and my body has.
I’m intrigued and a little confused.
What’s going on? IS my body building lean tissue because of increased protein? Do the tissues or fat cells just shrink with reduced inflammation reducing puffiness? Or is it something else changing?
Maybe it’s hot air reduction? 😂
If anyone has any suggestions I’d be keen to read them! Let me know in the comments.
P.S. I’ve procrastinated about putting these pics up because, well… It’s kinda embarrassing! 😱 I do feel however, that this public display of my chunkiness on the internet IS helping to make me somewhat accountable… 😧 and gives a visual of my results so far even though the scales aren’t moving.