Health & Wellness

'Just a number': Woman shows off leaner body, heavier weight

A fitness trainer has a striking and inspiring reminder for those moments when, despite all your bicep curls, leg lifts and sweaty workouts, it seems like the scale is conspiring against you.

Yola van Acker recently posted a side-by-side photo of herself on Instagram. The image on the left is from three years ago, when she weighed 127 pounds. The photo on the right is current and shows her about 13 pounds heavier. She looks much more toned and sculpted in the present image. She does flex her abs in the picture on the right.

“Weight is just a number,” she says in the caption.

“I’ve always been fit and sporty, but this picture shows that being fit comes in different sizes, shapes and weights,” van Acker, 27, who lives in Breda, Netherlands, told TODAY.

“I hope this will motivate people to strive for their goals despite the number on the scale. I also hope that it shows that changes do not happen overnight, but that long-term commitment pays off in the end.”

Related: The best day of the week to weigh yourself is...

FRIDAY 🙌🏼Have a good one! 😏

A post shared by Y O L A F O R T H E W I N (@yolaforthewin) on

She was inspired to post the side-by-side comparison after scrolling through photos on her phone and finding herself surprised by the 2013 image. It would be a good way to show her fitness progress over the years, she thought.

Van Acker doesn’t pay a lot of attention to her weight, noting that she steps on a scale about twice a year “when going on holiday to check my luggage weight.” She does monitor her body in other ways, such as measuring her body fat percentage and waist size.

For the last two years, her fitness routine has consisted of CrossFit WODS (workouts of the day) two to three times a week, plus two to three weightlifting sessions a week, for a total of four to six workouts a week.

Related: 9 things to know if you want to try CrossFit

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Bob Harper weighs in on diet vs. exercise debate

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Bob Harper weighs in on diet vs. exercise debate

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The big takeaway message from the photo is: Don’t be obsessed with the number on your scale — it’s much more about how fit you are, said Keri Glassman, a nutritionist, author and TODAY Tastemaker.

“You can be heavier and look better,” she noted. “Focus on being healthy and strong.”

Related: 8 of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off

Here are Glassman's tips when it comes to weighing yourself:

It’s all about your relationship with the scale

If you have a good relationship and you don’t get upset by fluctuations, whether due to water weight or muscle gain, it’s a good way to keep yourself focused and on track.

If stepping on the scale leaves you in a funk, ruins your day and takes away your motivation to exercise and eat well, then stay away from it.

Expect to gain weight if you’re building muscle

That’s because muscle is denser and weighs more than fat. So the average person who wants to tone can expect to be heavier. But overweight people who are gaining muscle can see their weight drop because they’re also losing so much fat at the same time.

Be realistic

If you’ve gained 13 pounds, like van Acker, but without exercising, that’s not a great sign. You won’t look leaner like her and will probably notice more fat on your body.

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