Research tells us that people who lose weight and maintain weight loss weigh themselves everyday; but, this may not be helpful for everyone. Seeing weight loss is motivating; but, what about when you get on the scale and are 3 pounds HEAVIER than the day before? Weight fluctuates for lots of reason, but mainly because of fluid changes. Here are some reasons why we fluctuate and tips to avoid frustration.
Accounting for inconsistencies:
1) Fluid–Fluid status changes all day depending on various factors: what/how much we drink, sweating, activity, temperature (too hot or too cold), foods eaten, etc. 2 cups of water weighs about 1 pound.
2) Exercise–The amount of blood circulating increases during exercise to feed muscles. This can increase weight; but, exercise may also give a falsely LOW number if we don’t drink enough water. Weigh yourself immediately before and after exercise and drink 2 cups (16 oz) of water for every pound lost to stay hydrated.
3) Salt–Salt holds water in the body, so the more salt we eat, the more fluid we hold. The more fluid we hold, the higher our weight will be.
4) Carbohydrate intake–Carbs store water in our cells, and since water is one of the most important components of our cells, we need to eat the recommended amount of carbs (preferably high in fiber); but, “carb loading”, either for athletic training or just because we crave carbs one day, may lead to higher weights the next day.
5) Diet–it takes 3-4 hours to digest food. When we eat, the physical weight of the food is added to our body weight since, well, it’s in our body! If you weigh yourself within 3-4 hours of eating, you should expect that your weight will be higher while the body sorts through the Calories eaten.
6) Bathroom habits–Yes, our waste has weight too. We all have different “schedules”, so keep yours in mind when you get on the scale. Havent “gone” yet? Well, get on the scale after you do and see the difference!
It’s easy to see that, yes, our weight SHOULD fluctuate; so, for those of us trying to lose weight, we shouldn’t obsess over the number on the scale. Hopefully, this post shows why we should expect these little changes. I will be honest, though, any gains I see on the scale upsets me. Because I know this about myself, I don’t weigh myself everyday.
Tips for avoiding frustration/discouragement:
1) Look at trends over time (weekly, monthly, etc.)
2) Pick one day per week–choose the same day each week
3) Weight yourself at the same time each day–Consider in the morning, after you empty your bladder and before you eat and shower (naked).
4) Remember that fluctuation is normal and give a 1-3 pound range
5) Monitor something other than weight–consider dress or pant size, or maybe track your mood throughout the day
Following a healthy lifestyle is never as easy as it looks on paper, but knowing how to avoid frustration and handle set-backs is important for maintaining change. How do you use your bathroom scale?