Should I Lose Pounds or Inches?


Written by Gail Sas

When you first start an exercise program, the scale may feel like your best friend.  Most people find their biggest successes in terms of pounds lost.  This happens during the first few weeks of any new exercise regimen.  However, body weight (the sum total of our body’s contents), can fluctuate based on numerous factors, such as water retention, hormones and even the actual weight of the food you ate at your last meal.  And watching those numbers on the scale move both up and down on a regular basis can often be discouraging.

Using a tape measure is the other approach. It can help you determine exactly how many inches you are losing, so you know if your body’s slimming down.  You’ll discover that inches don’t fluctuate nearly as dramatically as your body weight so you won’t get discouraged as easily.

However, if you include strength training in your workout routine, you’ll begin building muscle mass.  In some cases, especially when you first start out, this can slightly increase the size of the body part (that’s particularly true with large muscle groups like the thighs).  So, for a while, that may cause the inches to fluctuate or even increase (but don’t worry, not for long term), strength training will result in leaner, more sculpted muscles).