Victor: Counting ounces can improve your weight-loss goals



Americans have a fascination with "the pound." Not only do we use a scale to measure how many ticks of the magic needle reveal our weight, but multimillion-dollar industries leverage their success at helping people gain or lose this measurement of human density.

We reward those who attain this measurement but are incredibly quick to overlook the fact that we might lose a fraction of that amount -- a fraction that equates to 10 pennies, a pencil, a pen, a CD a screw or a small battery. All of these objects equate to approximately 1 ounce.

The longer I have worked as a trainer, the more convinced I am that the success of true healthy weight loss is akin to the race between the tortoise and the hare. It is frequently a longer, methodical and deliberate effort summoned on a daily basis.

Speaking in the metaphor of the tortoise, rather than being described as, "one leg in front of the other" it would read, "one ounce in front of the other."

The tale of this rodent-reptile effort is an important lesson in a person's weight-loss journey, as it typifies how thinking in small amounts over a consistent period can ultimately play a much bigger role in the end game of a healthier way ("weigh" — sorry, I couldn't resist) to view one's success.

For the sake of basic comprehension, we should start with the 16-ounce vessel of any liquid-filled container. For all intents and purposes, this represents one pound. Now, picture yourself losing one of those 16 ounces— you know, the battery, the pen, the pencil or the CD.

While there are a variety of scientific arguments about what constitutes one pound of body fat, it is widely accepted that 3,500 calories that are not metabolized will convert to one pound of this unhealthy substance.

If we were to cull the math out of this equation, let's say that you worked out on the treadmill, used your "body bug" or one of countless other devices that can be used to estimate your caloric metabolism to discover that you had burned, let's say, 500 calories, or one-seventh of that amount.

Using our everyday-object model, this loss would equate to two pens, or 20 pennies worth of fat. While I realize this example might seem silly, the point is that our success in weight loss is easier to grasp as well as accomplish if we break our goal into fractional units that are easier to understand.

For my clients, it is much easier to shoot for goals that often can be accomplished in one training session when the fractional amount of a pound is the end-game versus hinging on what is deemed as success or failure of magical pound.

Naturally, there exists yet another set of rules when succeeding in losing the "one or two CDs' worth of weight" such as controlling dietary intake away from the gym and fluid that is retained.

We are so fixated on the "pound picture" that we frequently lose sight of the ounce. Let the power of the math work for you, as you arrive at an encouraging statistic — a weekly weight loss of four ounces over an entire year would equate to almost 14 pounds. That amounts to four CDs or 40 pennies.

Start thinking about your weight loss differently and focus first on the smaller unit of the pound — the ounce. Often goals that are attainable are what a person needs to stay on course.

Bill Victor is the owner of Victor Fitness System Professional Fitness Trainers, Flashpoint Athletic Speed & Agility Specialists, and Performance Nutrition Consultants. He can be reached at and online at and