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20 Signs Your Body Is in Fat-Burning Mode

An expert outlines all the things to look out for.

You are eating less and exercising more. But how do you know that your body is actually burning fat? According to Risa Sheppard, Master Pilates trainer and creator of The Sheppard Method, there are lots of signs your body is in fat-burning mode. Some of them are obvious, while others might surprise you. Here are 20 signs your body is in fat-burning mode.

Your Pants Are Looser

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If your pants are feeling looser is a key sign your workout is working. "You may be thinking, 'Duh. My 6-year-old nephew could have told me that,' but it's a good sign for a reason! It can be easy to lose track of the progress we've made when we look in the mirror, but inches don't lie. Keep the size in mind you want to be and keep picturing yourself fitting into it," Sheppard says.

The Sleeves on Your Blouse Are Fitting Looser


Another sign is that the sleeves on your blouse fit looser. "Sometimes people think only about getting a flatter tummy, but exercise helps every part of your body, and progress can show up differently on different muscle groups. Do T-shirts fit a little differently? Noticing when you're crushing it in the business world that you need to push the sleeves up on your blouse a little more often? You're on your way to Linda Hamilton in her Terminator days (or at least towards Sigourney Weaver in Alien)," she says.

Cognitive Improvements


Cognitive improvements are also a sign. "Feeling sharper and more able to multi-task? The more you take care of your body, the more your body can take care of your brain. Goodbye, morning fog!" Sheppard says.

Improved Memory

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Is your memory getting better? "Your memory for simple tasks becomes easier, and information comes forth more readily. Juggle your workout schedule, your office stresses, and your sister's needlessly complicated Starbucks order (including the half-calf and extra caramel drizzle)," she says.

Your Brain and Nervous System Are Better and More Positive

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Another sign? "Your brain and nervous system are taking in better and more positive information," says Sheppard. "You find yourself in a better mood because you are accomplishing something positive. You are looking and feeling better, and you only want to swear a LITTLE when someone cuts you off in traffic."

You Feel Better About Yourself

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You will also start feeling better about yourself, she says. "Adding on to the previous item, when your outlook on the outside world improves, so does your outlook on yourself. You feel better not just because you look better, but because you're taking care of yourself and making healthier choices to allow you to live life to the fullest," Risa says.

Increased Vitality

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Increased vitality is another bonus. "Carrying less weight helps you feel more energetic. You can do things you have not done before (although you may end up slightly regretting that you've become your family's go-to for moving heavy objects)," she says.

Reduced Cravings


"As your health journey continues, you'll find you crave junk less," says Sheppard. "Your body gets used to feeling good, and you'll notice the difference that bucket of popcorn does on how you feel both mentally and physically (although sometimes you just need a treat, and that's okay!)"

You Have More Restful Sleep

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If you have more restful sleep, it could be a sign you are burning fat. "Tiring yourself out at the gym makes it easier for you to catch those Zs that you've been sorely missing," she says.

You're Not Hungry All the Time

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Shutterstock/Maria Markevich

Another sign your diet is working? You're not hungry all the time. "Although this seems counterintuitive when you exercise, your body produces hormones like GLP-1, which can help you have a better sense of how hungry you actually are," says Sheppard.

You're Noticing Some Muscle Definition

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You will also start noticing some muscle definition. "Another one you may want to say "duh" to – but if the number on the scale isn't going down, it can be easy to get into your head. Remember that your lbs alone don't dictate your health – look to your muscles to remind yourself you're making progress," she says.

Chronic Pain Improves

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Also, you might notice chronic pain improving. "Exercise can help reduce soreness, swelling, and inflammation. Pilates in particular, can help you to work through injuries," she says.

Blood Pressure Decreases

Blood pressure.

Your blood pressure decreasing is another sign. "Isn't it a relief when you can just measure progress with a number? If only all the other answers were so simple to see," Sheppard says.

Your Stomach Is Flatter

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Another surefire sign you are losing weight? "Your stomach is flatter," Sheppard says.

You Are Slightly Out of Breath But Can Maintain a Conversation

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Are you able to talk when you are exerting energy? "If you're slightly out of breath but you can maintain a conversation, you're probably in a fat–burning mode," says Sheppard.

Your Face Things Out

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"Your face and neck will appear thinner when you are losing weight," says Sheppard. "#Facegains – they're trending for a reason!"

You Can Run and Jump


Another fun way you can tell if you are burning fat? "You can triumph over your children in a game of Double-Dutch," she says. "Running or jumping rope are the best weight loss exercises for burning fat. Join the neighborhood competition. So what if you competed against a bunch of 6-year-olds? Six months ago, you couldn't even chase after them at the grocery store without getting out of breath."

You're Breathing Deeper

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Are you breathing deeper? "Weight training has a prolonged calorie-burning effect. You need a workout such as weight training that makes your body require more oxygen afterward to recover and repair muscles. As you burn fat and get healthier, you'll find you're inhaling more deeply not just during and right after workouts, but in your day-to-day," Sheppard says.

You Are Consuming More Protein

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Shutterstock/Shift Drive

"While the number of calories burned is important, other factors are in place. For instance, cutting calories in your diet and maintaining a healthy organic diet with lots of protein help maintain a weight loss regime – but that also gets easier when you have a clearer mind," says Risa.

You Are Enjoying Your Workout[/slidetitle]

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"Last but most important- you're enjoying your workout!" says Sheppard.

With more strength and conditioning comes the ability to work out without feeling like you might have a heart attack. Help yourself reach that point and maintain it by finding out what form of physical activity makes you feel your best and what you enjoy the most.  Happiness is the best weight loss I've yet to discover! And if you enjoyed this article, take advantage of these 15 Quick Ways to Lose Body Fat Percentage in a Week.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more