The scale lies to you. You can't ever trust the scale to tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth with your fat loss, which is why you shouldn't fret about stepping on the scale. It doesn't matter how much you weigh, what matters is how you look and feel! Okay, breathe, focus on these next few sections to hear why the scale weight doesn't matter.
So if you're having a tough time stepping on the scale and losing your mind over your weight, hold off for a bit and let's think about why our weight is always changing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Scale weight is a horrible way to track progress in any weight or fat loss program simply because it's always going up and down due to a variety of factors listed below...
- Food intake and type
- Bowel movements
The body is about 85-90% water so it makes sense that this essential fluid that keeps us alive would be in constant motion. But just as we take it in, we excrete it through sweat, urine and other bodily fluids all the time. It's always in flux and changing constantly with our intake and amounts that we use up and release into the environment.
Simply drinking more water throughout the day can impact how much the scale weighs, so if you wakeup in the morning and you're lighter, you can essentially drink your way heavier later in the day.
This is generally why most people weigh in the morning since they appear lighter.
Food Intake and Type
Say you just ate a really large meal with some steak, potatoes and a salad. All that food adds extra weight into the body and not only that it's going to remain there for at least a little while until we use up all that stored energy, not to mention the added bulk of waste product that slowly cruises through our digestive track.
Not only that, but if you eat a large meal with say some tasty carbohydrates as the main nutrient (ie. say pasta or fries) you're going to have a double whammy of water retention simply because storing carbohydrates requires water. You'll store 3g of water for every 1g of carbohydrates that you take in.
This is why when people start off on a low carb diet they drop about 10lbs right away, because getting rid of all those extra carbohydrate helps rid the body of excess water it doesn't need anymore.
So if you've had several big meals and then weigh in, well, you're going to be heavier.
Obviously from our previous commentary on food waste, if you haven't taken a poop in a while, well you're probably packing around a couple extra pounds from food waste deep in your guts. Gross, yes, but that's how it goes. We eat all that stuff during the day and it can add up to a couple extra pounds of weight on the scale.
Need to drop a few pounds fast, take an Ex-Lax and drop a couple pounds fast. There you go! Simple right, but it's still not going to help you look any leaner unfortunately.
Now women have the short end of the stick when it comes to hormones. On your monthly cycle you're going to be in constant state of change with both food intake, cravings and right around that special time you're going to get bloated. This is all in part of your hormones and how they interact with your water regulation mechanisms within the body.
Some ways to counteract these bloating side effects are to lower your amounts of carbohydrates and sodium intake during your mid-luteal phase when you start approaching your period. This won't be a surefire fix, but it will definitely help keep you a bit more stable during this monthly cycle.
In the hormone section above there is mention of reducing sodium intake in order to help with bloating, as higher sodium concentrations lead to water retention. This one is fairly well known, but it's good to double-tap it again just to help you think about the impact of sodium on your weight.
Have a great big meal with sodium and carbohydrates that you'll find in most processed foods and get ready for a whole bunch of water retention.
Now we need some sodium in our diet and many common foods, like eggs, meats and vegetables will have a bit of sodium within them already. What we need to watch out for is adding too much extra salt to our foods or eating things that are extremely processed, which tend to be laden with added salt as a preservative or flavor enhancer.
So there you have it. Your obsession with the scale as your primary method of tracking your weight loss is a horrible idea. Focus instead on how you look through pictures or how your clothes fit as you progress on your weight loss journey. Take body circumference measurements as needed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and look for those centimeters falling off. If you absolutely need to weigh in, do it on a common day, preferably in the morning after you've voided your bladder and take a record of it on a month to month basis so you can notice a general trend of weight loss. That way you can avoid being distraught and frustrated with your weight.
In the end, it really doesn't matter how much you weigh. If you look in the mirror and like what you see, who cares if the scale says 105lbs or 175lbs. If you don't like what you see...well, keep working at it, lifting those weights and watching those calories and eating quality foodstuffs. You'll get there. Just stay consistent and keep plugging away.
Jesse “Captain Smash” Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold’s Gym. He’s a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.