Does your scale drive you nuts?


When you are participating  in a weight management program, sometimes there can be nothing more frustrating than the lack of progress you see on the scale. You are doing everything you have been told to do, eat more veggies, cut down on the carbs and fat, exercise, exercise, exercise, but still that number does not seem to budge. In fact, there may be days the number goes up. What is going on? Many people become slaves to the scale. Likely, it’s been a part of your bathroom décor for years. The scale can make us feel great one day and then cause great despair the next.  Some of you might even try to trick it by standing on one foot, only weighing after you have gone to the bathroom, with clothes on, clothes off.  If you are trying to lose weight you can become fixated with the number on the scale. What you have to remember is that sometimes the number you see has nothing to do with fat gained and or fat lost.


It is important to remember that your body’s weight is a combination of water, muscle, bone, fat, and tissue, and changes on the scale are not always the best reflection of fat loss. Your weight can actually fluctuate up to 5 pounds in one day. Remember the scale is not a direct reflection of your body fat content, which is what you are targeting with a weight loss plan. Your BMI (body mass index) and your waist circumference are better indicators of health according to NIH.  It is important to not let the number you see affect how you view yourself and the efficacy of your weight loss program.


Reasons for the Fluctuations


  1. Water Habits: Drinking excess fluids or retaining fluid can make you temporarily heavier; sweating, going to the bathroom or taking a diuretic can temporarily make you lighter.
  2. Salt intake – Studies have shown that a high salt diet not only causes fluid retention it actually makes you hungrier. You may notice you weigh more after you eat salty snacks or meals.
  3. What you are wearing: Being fully dressed can add up to five scale pounds, especially if you are dressed for a cold winter day. Weighing yourself in your birthday suit, first thing in the morning, after first relieving yourself will give you a consistent number. The key is to do the same thing at the same time of the day.
  4. The scale itself: Scales are all different. What scale you use at home, in the gym or the doctor’s office can all be calibrated differently, resulting in fluctuations. Be kind to yourself. Don’t let the number derail your plan.
  5. Colonic Activity: Yes, perhaps not the most comfortable conversation to have, but it is true, your weight can fluctuate dramatically with a bowel movement. Be sure to weigh yourself after you have used the bathroom.
  6. High Carbohydrate Meals: High carb meals can actually cause you to retain fluid. Have you noticed that after you eat a meal high in carbs you feel bloated and a little water logged? That extra water retention may cause your scale to take a leap for a short time.
  7. Hormones: Ladies, unfortunately hormonal changes can cause increases in your weight, by altering your fluid regulation system. I am positive that most of you have felt bloated during your time of the month. Weighing yourself when menstruating would not be a true reflection of your progress or lack thereof.


 Although the number on the scale still has its place in health and wellness. It is important to remember it “lies” from time to time. It is more important to notice other changes like how you feel in your clothes, your energy level and your changing waist size. These are better indicators of fat loss and progress. Keep up the good work! Stay positive! Stay mindful!