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But I’m not losing weight!

By Todd Seabaugh | In Blog, Diet, nutrition | on April 10, 2014

We occasionally have that new member, who’s been with us for 2-3 months, and comes in all discouraged and proclaims, “I’ve been working my butt off for 2 months now, and I’m so frustrated. I have not lost a single pound!” (In fact, they may have actually gained weight.)

So we ask the question, “How are you feeling?” The answer normally comes back, “My energy is up, I feel good about myself, I’m getting better at WODs, but did you hear me? I’m not losing weight!”

Back we’ll come, “Yes, I heard you, I’m not discounting that, but have you noticed any difference in your body composition?” Answers the athlete, “Well, yes, I did notice I’m in a notch on my belt.”

We can go into a great deal of discussion over how to lose weight, and it all has merits, but understand, when you start CrossFit, you are quickly exchanging fat for muscle tone (not necessarily muscle growth).

If you are losing inches, you are losing weight! Well, no, you aren’t are you? I mean, a pound of fat is exactly equal to a pound of muscle. Exactly equal. What is NOT equal is the density of the material we are discussing. Did you know that muscle is over 18% more dense than fat? Think about that, 5 lbs of muscle will occupy one-fifth less space in the body than 5 lbs of fat. So as muscles regain tone, we are in fact losing fat, just not weight. The below picture will give you a visual of this.


There is far too much emphasis on the pound in our society and not nearly enough emphasis on the space in a room one takes up. I have other guys guess my weight at 170-175 regularly. “Man you are lean. What do you weigh? 175?” One, I’m not that lean, but two, “No, I weigh 192.” There reply is usually something like, “That’s what I weigh! How come you look so thin?”

The answer is simple, muscle weighs more than fat. Oh wait, muscle weighs the same as fat. There’s no difference in weight. The difference is that muscle is denser than fat!

So newbies take heart! Don’t live by the scale, live by the look and realize that after you tone, you will see some weight loss through exercise assuming you are eating correctly in combination!


5 Comments to "But I’m not losing weight!"

  • Mallory says:

    July 31, 2014 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Thanks for writing this article! Since I’ve started CF my weight has stayed pretty steady (as in not losing any more than I was with just working out at home and eating healthy meals), but I’ve noticed that I’m stronger, my clothes fit better, and even trouble spots like my arms are thinner. Sometimes it’s really frustrating not to see the “scale benefits” but I have to remind myself that sometimes that’s not the only way to measure change. So, thank you for this encouragement even if you didn’t realize it! 🙂

  • Brannon says:

    October 21, 2014 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    A great article, I heard the same exact comments from my box! Here is my dilemma, I DO need to lose weight, but I cannot for the life of me figure out the magic number of calories to fit what Im doing to shed pounds that I should be shedding. Im 5’9″ and 250. I CF 3 times a week and work out at home 2 days a week. Yes I look better, feel better, healthier than Ive ever been, my times are speeding up, my PR’s are getting heavier…but I have the ever eluding body fat sitting on my stomach. My Dr wants me to cut calories, the gym says I need more. I feel like Im hitting my head on the wall and confused of which direction to go with it. I know a calorie is a calorie, and to lose weight you have to burn them, I also know I need to eat enough to sustain the work outs and not go into starvation mode. Any insight, sights, or places to get a better idea?

  • Romey B says:

    January 26, 2015 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been contemplating joining CrossFit and I’m guilty of getting mixed up in the “weight loss” game. But looking back, that’s not what I want to do. Yes, I want to burn belly fat, but I don’t want to be skinny. I want to become stronger and more fit so I can live and play longer, but I also want to look good.

  • Natalie says:

    March 20, 2015 at 7:57 am - Reply

    I’ve been CF’ing for 2 months and my physicality is improving exponentially, I’m visibly stronger and losing inches but not pounds. Seeing as I’m about 30 pounds overweight, eventually some of that has to come off, right? How else am I going to be able to haul my body weight up a rope or over a pull up bar? I’m sticking with it because my improvements are undeniable but I’m really looking forward to not having to carry the extra weight during my workouts.

  • Anna says:

    July 15, 2015 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    I’ve been doing crossfit for approximately 5.5 months at home in a garage that is actually set up as a “Box.” I’m a female in my mid-fifties going through menopause, and not any easy one at that. I’ve always been an “exerciser” however through the years all of the rigorous and long hours of cardio-based activities ran its toll on my joints. Add a few other sport-related injuries & a couple of years of inactivity, I thought somedays, (this can’t be how it ends.)

    I turned my family on to the first box that popped up in our neighborhood several years ago, but didn’t join myself. It was to me (at the time) a daunting sight. I wasn’t sure I could do much of anything I saw them doing. My family joined immediately, & my husband soon became a coach.

    He started me out with modified crossfit activities.

    Get ups/Get Downs
    Air Squats
    Walking/jumping jacks
    Shooting baskets

    It looked so simple on the dry erase board. I was down, but not broken… & I have unlearned the need for a scale.

    I’ve hardly lost the amount of pounds I would’ve lost in 5+ months in younger years. But pants I couldn’t button up or breathe in now fall off my body buttoned up. I see bones. Not starving bones, but the sleek ones around the shoulders. I’ve found my hip bones and knee caps. The fat is melting. I’m getting fitter, faster, stronger. I’m not afraid of burpees (once known as get up/get downs) or push-ups or walk lunges. I still have knee pains. But they don’t stop me from squatting, rowing, or anything else.

    Crossfit is working for me.

    I am so thankfful and happy for it

    A <3

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