Don’t Let Diets or a Scale Wreck Your Weight Loss Progress!

Show me a scale that hasn’t had some choice words slung at it, and I’ll show you a brand-new scale still in the box! Who hasn’t stepped on the scale only to yell with joy, anger, confusion or sheer hatred, “There’s something wrong with my scale!”Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 9.52.45 AM

Fact is, most scales have enjoyed and endured a love/hate relationship with their owners. Although the owners would like to be the masters of the scales, those of us who take an active role in keeping our weight down feel as though the real master is the scale and we are its slaves!

We’ll do anything to make the scale happy and lots of times our “anythings” aren’t good enough! How do we know when the scale is happy? When it rewards us with a number that makes us happy, of course! HA!

Scales can make us crazy but the more you know about what influences the scale the better off you’ll be. In fact, knowledge is power. Imagine how successful you could be if you put the scale in its place as merely a tool rather than allowing it to be the master of your weight loss destiny! Knowledge can make you invulnerable to the whims of the stupid scale and with invulnerability comes total domination!

What you need to know about scales:

1) (Jackie) CONNfucius say, “He who owns a scale knows how much he weighs. He who owns two scales is never sure!” It’s tempting to step on every scale available until we get the lowest number. The scale that says we weigh the least is always the accurate one, right? You’ll never know for sure. Scale-hopping is self-defeating. Pick your scale and weigh only on that scale.

2) Your body weight fluctuates naturally by as much as three pounds daily. This fluctuation is not because you are gaining and losing body fat in a single 24 hour period. Body fluids and food and waste matter all can combine to make daily weight fluctuations. Don’t let a lower number make your day and a higher number ruin it if you can’t resist stepping on your scale whenever you’re near it!

3) What you eat affects your weight. You knew that, right? If you eat more calories than you burn you’ll gain weight. But I’m talking about the macronutrients in your food will have an affect on the scale reading independent of a real weight gain or loss of body fat. If you eat a lot of protein and few carbohydrates you will weigh less because your body isn’t holding onto as much fluid. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates they will act like a sponge and hold fluid which will make the scale read higher. Understand the difference between weight caused by fluid retention (temporary) and weight caused by body fat (permanent unless you reduce your caloric intake to fewer calories than your body requires for its energy needs.)

4) Other things that affect the scale include prescription and over-the-counter drugs. As with macronutrients, certain medications make you retain water while others act as a diuretic.

5) Exercise may influence the scale and not because you’re bulking up by building muscle through increased physical activity! If you have been mostly sedentary and you start exercising you may be hoping to see your weight drop and instead it’s higher! That’s not because you’re building muscle. That’s especially true for women; women don’t build muscle easily and certainly not after just a few workout sessions no matter how strenuous they seem! Increased exercise causes muscles to store water so that they may use glycogen for fuel. The weight gain is nothing more than water while you’re body is getting used to the increased demand on its muscles. Once it becomes accustomed to that, the water weight goes away.

6) Weigh once a day, or once a week, or once a month. Know what works to keep you on track. It’s not a good idea to weigh yourself more than once daily and for some that’s too often. Decide what is the best regular interval for your personal weigh-in and stick to it. It helps to be consistent with the time of day and your clothing.

7) Sometimes your body will just work in strange and mysterious ways! There’s nothing wrong with your scale (or your body for that matter) Sometimes the scale will give you a number lower than you expected and sometimes it’s higher. These unexpected numbers are neither gifts nor punishments. It’s smart not to let the number on the scale be your only indicator of progress. Your real progress can be accurately assessed by your daily and consistent habits, actions and routines. If you’re achieving a calorie deficit (most of the time*) by watching what you eat (most of the time) and staying physically active (most of the time) you can be sure you’re making progress even when the scale tries to tell you differently. By the same token, if you know you have been liberal with calorie consumption and spending more time on your seat than on your feet, you aren’t getting a “gift” from the scale. Your habits, good or bad, will eventually show on your body.

(Most of the time*) You don’t have to be perfect to reach and maintain your weight goal. “Most of the time” lets you live your life like a human without damaging your weight-related goals!

 

 

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.