I use to weight myself everyday. If my weight was down I had a great day, if it was up I had a terrible day. Then the more I started focusing on health as opposed to weight loss, I came to realize how toxic this relationship was and finally stopped. We are not a number on a scale, and there are so many things that can affect that number that focusing only on that will drive us mad.
Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you recently started a new workout routine, added strength training to the mix or started lifting heavier, the number on the scale may go up initially. In addition to increased muscle mass, inflammation and excess water weight can also contribute to weight gain. Don’t get discouraged by that initial shift, instead stay focused on the long term goal. As you start to burn fat and your muscles become accustomed to the new exercises, the number on the scale will even out or, most likely, go down.
Ladies we tend to bloat when it’s our time of the month, which can cause the number on the sale to fluctuate as well. We may “gain” as much as 3-5 pounds however it will typically subside a few days into our cycle. Our bodies tend to retain water during this time due in part to hormonal changes. Other causes for the slight uptick include cramps, increased cravings for salty food and reduced motivation to exercise.
If we hit happy hour after work, the scale is probably going to be a little higher the next day. Alcohol leads to dehydration, causing our bodies to retain water. The bar food we chowed down on was probably pretty high in sodium, which also causes water retention. So, that extra 2-3 pounds you see the next day aren’t true pounds. You didn’t gain 3 pounds over night. We have to increase calorie consumption by 3,500 calories to gain a single pound. Did you consume 10,000 calories last night? Of course not.
Most of the time a short term increase on the scale is just water weight. Regardless of the reason there are a few steps we can take to help overcome the bloat. It might seem counterintuitive but drink plenty of water to flush your body and restore hydration. Instead of vegging out on the couch and binging Netflix all day, be sure to move around. Do something active, go for a walk around the block or a short bike ride. In a day or two the weight will usually even out. Drinking more water, reducing salt intake and exercising on a regular basis will help prevent these extreme ups and downs from occurring in the first place.
For some people weighing in keeps them motivated. If this is the case for you then that’s great and I definitely don’t want to discourage it. However, instead of weighing yourself daily, try once a week instead. Choose a day and weigh in consistently. Do you eat extremely healthy throughout the week and then indulge a little on the weekends? Most of us probably do and that’s ok. If so, weigh yourself on Fridays.
However, if it all possible, ditch the scale. I weigh myself a few times a year just to get a pulse of where I’m at. I don’t panic if the number is a little higher than I’d like (it took me a long time to get to this point, it doesn’t happen overnight so don’t beat yourself up). Instead, turn your focus to how you feel and how your clothes fit. Are you able to climb a flight of stairs without being winded? Progress! Are your clothes a little looser, a little more comfortable? Progress! Focus on the positive and make healthy decisions in your daily life. Celebrate you, not the number.