You wake up, visit the bathroom, strip down to the very bare minimum and step on the bathroom scales.
You weigh five pounds more than you did last night!
FIVE WHOLE POUNDS!
And all you did was sleep!
Did you have a midnight feast of gigantic proportions while you slept?
Are the scales faulty?
What is going on?!
That is it.
It’s not working.
You feel demotivated, disillusioned and you think you are nothing but an utter failure.
You don’t understand it. You’ve been working out daily. You’ve tracked your food. You’ve even cut the wine down.
You deal with the increase in numbers by slathering butter on slice after slice of toasted white bread before washing it down with coffee and half a pack of biscuits.
Because what’s the point?
The weight fluctuation that you are likely to see each time you step on the bathroom scales can often determine how you feel in general and how the rest of your day goes.
A loss makes you feel great.
A gain has you tempted to reach for the biscuit tin.
You know that the scales shouldn’t bother you as much as they do, but they still do.
If stepping on the scales at the gym, the doctor’s office, or in your own bathroom causes your heart to race or makes you break out in a cold sweat, you’re not alone.
Many people associate the scales with stress and anxiety because they don’t like the number displayed on that dispassionate device.
In this article, we’ll talk about the many reasons that our fears and anxieties about our scale weight are unjustified. We also look measures that are better indicators of our health and fitness accomplishments.
Why Does My Weight Change So Much?
The weight shown on the scales takes into account everything about you; your muscles, organs, bones, and yes, body fat. But the scale also measures the amount of water held in your cells, the food and drink you’ve consumed that day. Even the shoes and clothes you wear when you stand on the scale… everything!
Most frustratingly, the scale doesn’t discriminate between “good” weight like muscle mass versus “bad” weight like unwanted body fat.
Keep in mind, your weight can fluctuate anywhere from 1 – 4.5kg per day in response to a number of factors:
- The food you eat throughout the day
- How much water you drink
- Recent bathroom visits
- Your carbohydrate intake (carbs draw water into your cells)
- Your sodium intake (sodium draws water into your cells)
- Stress and lack of sleep also cause water retention
- Your hormones, especially your menstrual cycle
- The time you ate your last meal
- Alcohol consumption, which causes dehydration. Drinking also leads to poor food choices, so the scale can swing either up or down depending on your eating behaviour while drinking.
As you can see, a LOT of factors influence your scale weight.
Most of these changes are due to our diets causing water retention, which accounts for the 1 – 4.5kg swing you might see on the scale. Don’t fret if this happens when you weigh yourself – it’s normal!
What most of us are really concerned about when we want to lose a few pounds is our appearance. We desire to look lean and toned, not puffy and bloated.
Many crash diets seem to “work” by eliminating carbs and sodium (which can cause a bloated appearance) in favour of juices or shakes. However, as soon as you return to eating regular food again, you’ll feel like you gain back all of the weight you lost… and you likely will have done so.
Don’t be fooled by this trick of the scale. There are better indicators of weight-loss progress then monitoring your weight fluctuation by stepping on the scales daily.
How to Track Your Progress Without Jumping on the Scales
No matter what, your weight is going to fluctuate.
The scales are not the only way to ascertain how well your weight loss efforts are going. Non-scale victories are the main focus you should keep your eye on, not a number on the scales.
The gold standard for body composition measurements are Dexa Scan or Bod Pod. If you have access to these in your area, we recommend using them as a true measure of fat-free mass (muscle, organs, bone, water, etc) versus body fat. A Dexa Scan will reveal where your weight is distributed, and as long as you keep your body fat in a healthy range (men below 25% and women below 31%), that’s a good indicator of overall health and wellness.
But what if you don’t have access to those measurements?
First thing’s first. You should always take a progress photo when you start a new diet or training plan. You’ll be glad you took this somewhat uncomfortable step at the end of the programme so that you can compare your before and after pictures and decide if the programme worked for you. Progress photos can be the most compelling piece of evidence in your weight-loss journey.
The next best indicator are circumference measurements. This is just a fancy way of saying measuring the inches around your hips, waist, and thighs. You can measure other body parts like your chest and biceps, too, if you’d like. At the bare minimum, your hip and waist measurements can be used to indicate your overall health.
Why Tracking Inches Matters
Not all excess fat stored on your body carries the same health risk.
People who store more weight around their midsection are at a higher risk for disease than people who store more weight on their hips and thighs.
Weight stored around your midsection can be either visceral (just under the skin) or subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat packs around your organs, placing them under pressure and increasing your risk of health-related diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy waist to hip ratio is below 0.9 (men) or below 0.85 (women). Determine your waist to hip ratio by measuring the inches around your waist and dividing by the inches around your hips. For instance, a woman with a 40” waist and 48” hips would have a waist to hip ratio of 0.83 and therefore be considered low-risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Tracking inches lost is not only a great way to make sure you are reducing your risk for diseases, it’s a fantastic indicator of progress! And since losing inches means your clothes will fit better, it’s a win-win for looking and feeling your best.
Observing how your clothes fit is a subjective measure of progress, but nonetheless a very important one. The same number on the scale won’t tell you if your jeans fit better than they did a few weeks ago. Your toned body and looser clothing will.
Other subjective measures of progress include having more energy to get through your day and feeling “lighter” or more energetic. Your concentration levels may increase and your workouts will become more productive. You might also feel a general ease and happiness when looking in the mirror.
All are positive indicators of your progress and should be noticed and celebrated.
All of these things are far more important to focus on than the weight fluctuation you are likely to see each time you step on the scales.
I Want to Start but I’m Not Sure Where to Begin
At Blue Ocean Fitness we carry out a full assessment and range of anthropometric measurements on all clients who take out any of our Personal Training plans.
As well as your selected number of weekly 1-2-1 sessions, packages include:
- An Initial Assessment and Goal Setting Meeting
- Full Anthropometric Body Measurements and Analysis (including BMI, Body Fat, Blood Pressure, RHR, Grip Test, etc)
- Fitness Testing Assessment
- Postural Analysis
- Before/After Photos
- Workout Plan
- Nutrition Guidance
- Food Diary Assessment
- Bespoke Workout Plan for Duration of Package
- End of Plan Assessment
Work out at our on-site facility at Blue Ocean Fitness in Maidstone or we can come to you through our Mobile Personal Training Service.
Book a session online, contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or text or WhatsApp Tania on 07761 867 123 for more information.