Image credit: minivan cooley
Strength training builds muscle, which can make you gain weight. More muscle is more calories burned, meaning fat loss. Your body-weight can stay the same while your muscle mass increases and body fat decreases.
The weight scale can demotivate you as it doesn't show improvements in body composition. Worse, water retention and stomach/bowel content fluctuate your body-weight. You must measure muscle gain & fat loss. Here’s how.
1. Track Strength Gains. When you can Squat 1.5x your body-weight, you'll have bigger legs, bigger arms and your waist will be smaller. More strength is more muscle. More muscle is more calories burned.
Your 1st goal: body-weight Squat. Your 2nd goal: 1.5x body-weight Squat. You can achieve both within 6 months when doing StrongLifts 5x5. Keep a training journal. Keep a log in the forum. Add weight slowly, but systematically.
2. Track Body Fat. Get a fat caliper by Accumeasure. Measure skinfolds weekly. If you want your abs to show: aim for 10-12% (women 15-17%). Get stronger meanwhile. Low body fat is useless if you don't have muscles to show.
3. Take Pictures. If you're making progress after years being out of shape, you might still consider yourself out of shape when looking in the mirror. Much of this is about self-perception and self-acceptance.
Strength gains, body fat improvements & before-after pictures don't lie. These are objective measurements of your progress. Check out John Stone's weekly progress pictures for an example of this.
Pay also attention to how your clothes fit and to what people say. Especially people you don't see a lot. They'll notice your muscle gain & fat loss and will ask you questions about it.