We’ve all been there — that moment when you step on a scale and look down, disappointed, instantly fighting back tears. Whether that number staring up at you is higher or even if it’s just the same, you’ll ask yourself how on earth you could have done any better? You’ve been eating right, haven’t been cheating, and working out so hard!

While this may sound nuts, the truth is, how many pounds you weigh is just one small piece of the conversation when discussing fitness. Here’s why:

Muscle Weighs More Than Fat

You’ve probably heard the expression, ‘muscle weighs more than fat.’ Well, it’s true! Everyone’s bone structure and body type are different, so it’s not really your weight that matters the most. Your body’s composition, or more precisely your body fat percentage is the most important number to consider when setting and pursuing your fitness goals. Depending on someone’s fitness level, total body weight consists of:

· Muscle: 30-55%

· Fat: 10-30%

· Water: (not in muscle or fat): 10-25%

· Bone: 15%

· Organs and other tissues: 10-15%

To reach your peak level of fitness, focus on reducing fat and increasing muscle. The great news is you already know the secret to doing that, so give yourself a pat on the back. Stick with your smart, balanced diet, and a regular exercise routine and the results will come.

A Real Example

I have been a fitness trainer my entire career – maybe a few more years than I’m willing to admit. I’ve taught aerobics in college, owned a step aerobics studio in Scotland, and have been a FIT36 owner and trainer for the past two years. Take a look at the feature image and what one of my clients, Kristen Kelley, achieved recently even though she only went down only one pound on that darn scale you love/hate so much.

Pretty amazing, right? Look at those arms! And her hips! Where did they go? Drastic differences, even though the scale barely changed. After staying committed to her program, Kristen is more toned, has noticeable muscle definition and has changed her overall body’s shape. All by increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat!

How to Get on the Right Track

You’re probably thinking SHE worked out seven days a week. But Kristen actually achieved this after only eight weeks, coming in about three to four times per week, for HIIT training. In general, I recommend exercising at least three times a week and to avoid doing activities that feel like a total chore. If you find a workout routine that you really enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it. You’ll even reach the point where you look forward to it. Over time, make some changes along the way to keep it interesting. The key is to do something sustainable. The same applies to food. Choose a diet focused on your overall health, not just losing weight. Plenty of people follow fad diets and lose weight fast, but they rarely keep it off because it’s not something they could stick with in their everyday life. We’re all busy and finding the time to eat well and work out can be challenging.

The Takeaway

There’s an expression in the fitness business called ‘skinny fat.’ It is possible to weigh less than someone, yet still not be as healthy as they are because they have more muscle mass. Ditch the scale mindset and try focusing more on your health, not weight. Look at how your clothes fit. How do you feel? Do you have more energy and enjoy doing the things you love even more? Fitness is an outlet to transform lives and that means not just losing weight, but having a confident attitude partly because you have a stronger, fitter body.