By Nena Ndioma

The problem with being six months into the year is that six months is enough time for everyone to expect results when they know you’re working on something. It’s more than enough time for me to expect results in the area of ACTUAL WEIGHT LOSS.

I think you have to be on a weight loss journey yourself to really grasp how easy it is to lose sight of small victories when the scale refuses to budge. I mean, for the last six months, I’ve been investing time and energy into something that doesn’t exactly come naturally to me. An hour a day, three days a week, almost without fail. I have gone from getting practically no exercise at all to structured, planned work-outs with a trainer. Why I’m not skinny by now is beyond me.

Yeah-yeah-yeah. I know, I know, I know:

You spent more than 6 months putting it on, so don’t expect it to come that fast.

 It’s all about calories in versus calories out.

 Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise.

 You can’t out-run your mouth.

 This is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix.

Yada-yada-yada. Whatever. I get it.

I know exactly how I gained the weight, and how long it took to do so. I was there.

But when the scale doesn’t budge (or when things don’t ‘change’ in general) when you’re at least trying, there’s a strong temptation to begin to question the utility of regular, vigorous ANYTHING.

How much better off am I now than before? I’m sure my routine is doing all sorts of wonderful stuff that I can’t ‘see.’ Wonderful stuff for my heart, and so on. And, to be honest, I joined a gym primarily for those kinds of reasons. I needed to do something very deliberate, in order to cope with the stress levels that are just part of the life of a busy, harassed, ‘reluctant’ career woman, and  a single parent with a relatively active church life. But vanity is taking over and I’m saying to myself, ‘Wait a minute. It’d be nice to actually LOSE some weight, too! How am I not losing weight? How is that even possible?’

You’re gaining muscle. This is a good thing. Muscle weighs more than fat, though, so it may take a while before the changes reflect on the scale.

 You’re losing fat. A pound of muscle looks better than a pound of fat.

 You’ll gain before you lose.

Blah-blah-blah. Yada-yadi-yada.

When did these theories emerge? And do they only apply to women in their 40s? Prior to my 40s, if I wanted to lose weight, all I had to do was want to, and I’d lose it.

Well, you were probably just one of those ‘skinny fat’ people who aren’t actually healthy.

(Well, ‘skinny fat’ people sure do look good.)

The danger with having these arguments with myself is that they are compelling enough to potentially make me fall off the bandwagon.  But I have a number of small victories to take pride in, and I’m not going to let my thoughts make me lose sight of how far I have come (my stubborn weighing scale notwithstanding).

My sisters have tried repeatedly to break down the ‘muscle-versus-fat’ thing for me like I’m a two year-old. My brain has simply refused to fully grasp the concept. Just when I think I’ve got it, I lose it. However, I’m not so dumb that I don’t sort of think they have a point: My clothes all fit better. Much better. I can now wear things that I’d long abandoned or forgotten about. I bought a black skirt 3 years ago. I didn’t realise until after buying it that it had been cut rather small, and so I simply never wore it. On a whim, I tried it on a few weeks ago and it fit! Actually, it’s now so loose that it rotates around my waist during the day without my realising it. How I’m able to slip on that skirt is still the 9th wonder of the world to me. How could this possibly happen without liposuction and MAJOR weight loss? I really don’t get it.

A few people do feel like something’s ‘different.’ A couple of them have actually gone so far as to say the magic words: ‘You look smaller.’ When I compare recent pictures with others taken months ago, even I have to admit that there’s a big (no pun intended) difference.

I haven’t really lost weight, though.

Not according to the scale, anyway.

I guess the question is: Does it really matter?

What matters more? My hang-up? The unyielding scale? Or the fact that my clothes are loose (as if I’ve actually lost weight)?

Hmm. Change of perspective here.

So, how far? Well… so far, so good.

Nena Ndioma is a mother of two, who blogs (occasionally) about being African, Christian, and recently divorced at

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