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/ Source: TODAY
By Stephanie Mansour

Do you ever feel like your workouts aren’t intense enough, so they're not effective? Or maybe you wake up feeling hungry, and it freaks you out because you think your body needs to eat more food, but you’re worried it will lead to weight gain? Maybe the scale has actually gone UP even though you feel like you’re doing everything right.

Sound familiar? As a private weight-loss coach for women, I deal with these scenarios daily with my clients. These instances are actually counter-intuitive benchmarks that mean you’re losing fat. While they may not be obvious, and they may even seem like they should be signs that you’re gaining weight, they’re strong indicators that what you’re doing IS working.

1. Less intense workouts feel harder.

Once your body gets used to an intense workout, you might think that a lower level workout should also feel easier. However, since your body is used to challenging workouts, a slower one may actually feel more challenging than your intense workouts. Why? It's because you're body isn't used to it, so you're challenging it in a new way.

So if you happen to pop into a less intense class (that used to feel easy), but now feels difficult, you're still on track.

2. You’re more hungry than usual.

This can mean that you’re speeding up your metabolism and therefore may be burning more fat. For example, if you’re used to skipping breakfast in the morning, but recently started eating it and wake up craving it, this is a positive sign.

Similarly, if you used to only eat two meals per day, but now you’re eating three meals and a snack, and feel hungry for them, you’re speeding up your metabolism and setting your body up to lose more fat. So don't freak out! Listen to your body and feed it accordingly.

3. You gain a couple of pounds.

While technically you’ve gained weight on the scale, you may have actually gained muscle and lost fat. When you place 5 pounds of muscle next to 5 pounds of fat, the muscle takes up half the amount of space. So if your shirts are buttoning more easily, your pants are zipping up more smoothly or any clothes or jackets feel lose, you’re losing fat even though you’re not losing pounds.

4. You feel better.

Finally, focus intently on how you feel physically. If you’re feeling lighter, more energized and less stressed about your diet and health, these are also positive indicators that you’re doing something right.

Stephanie Mansour is a health and fitness expert and weight-loss coach for women. Join her complimentary weight-loss challenge here!