Our coach discusses reasons as to why the number on the scale might be increasing. Plus, you’ll understand which elements cause bloating and the importance of celebrating small victories.
- Remember that the scale is just one tool of measurement; it’s not the end all, be all.
- If you don’t have a great relationship with the scale, don’t use the scale. You can measure based on clothes that fit you differently, etc.
- Have a variety of successes – in addition to the number on the scale, your “wins” can be measured in emotional health, psychological health.
- Before you weigh yourself, check in with yourself and ask how you feel. Have you been feeling good? Are you feeling good about the work you’ve been doing?
- There’s a lot that the scale can’t account for (age, body composition, overall health)
- Elements that can affect weight: FIBER, SODIUM, WATER, SLEEP
- Fiber and sodium will pull water into your GI if you’ve had a massive fiber or sodium overage
- Sleep is your recovery time; you need it for hormones, for physical repair
“Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or, rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this.” -Cheryl Strayed
I had the pleasure of teaching a nutrition seminar last night at a local high school. My audience included several teams of youth Volleyball athletes, all of which were between the ages of 14-18. My heart dropped when I asked them the question, “How many of you weigh yourselves every morning,” and every hand in the room went up. My next question was, “How many of you like the number that you see?” Not a single person kept their hand in the air. I used to be guilty of the same thing. I spent a lot of time focusing on a weight with which I was comfortable, or that I “identified with.” I would say things like, “Anything under 125 lbs is fine,” as if it was a negotiation or compromise. As if that number actually equated to something or had anything to do with the person I am, or the work that I did.
It wasn’t until I started self educating, embarking on my own fitness journey, and was able to surround myself with valuable resources to learn more about what the number on the scale really represents that I realized how little that number should be valued. So many things impact your scale weight. If you are going to place value on that number, then tracking and evaluating everything associated with it is a must as well. I have created a running “list” below of just a few of the things I evaluate and take into consideration when I weigh myself or am looking for trends in my weight fluctuations.
A gallon a day keeps the bloating away
Water is essential to life, and is required in the greatest amount regardless of your physical activity levels. The human body is made up of 40-70% water, most of which is found in muscle tissues. Water is what transports nutrients, vitamins and minerals throughout your body, diffuses gas, rids the body of waste, lubricates your joints and provides structure to your skin and tissues. The Dietary Reference Intake for water for women is 91 oz per day, and 125 oz for men. However, I encourage my clients to drink a gallon a day (135 oz). My favorite water myth is “drinking water makes me bloated.” It is actually the opposite. The higher your water intake, the faster your body will flush and release fluids. Drinking 135 oz of water a day will help your body look and function to the best of its ability. If you are not drinking enough water on a regular basis it is extremely likely that your body is retaining fluids, resulting in a higher scale weight.
Sleep, rest and recovery are imperative for your physical and mental health
During sleep is when your body repairs and restores itself. It is preparing for the days and weeks ahead of strenuous activity, life and interaction. Implementing consistent habits to maximize sleep should be a priority, along with allowing your body ample time to recover and repair (taking rest days if you are an active person, etc). Overtraining will lead to water retention and additional stress on your body, resulting in a higher scale weight. Not enough sleep, or overall fatigue will result in a higher scale weight. Be in tune with your body and give it what it needs. If there is a random jump in the scale, evaluate your rest and recovery for the week. Because water is stored in your muscles, you may also notice a jump in the scale if you are feeling sore from activity in days prior. I almost always weigh more after a really intense lifting session, and can feel water retention in my muscles from that. It is NOT fat gain, and its imperative to stay objective when making these evaluations.
Pay attention to the details of your food consumption
If you are willing to pick apart your weight, you should be just as willing to do a thorough evaluation of what you have put in your body contributing to that number. Salt, fiber levels, and food intolerances all have a major impact on your scale weight. Sodium can EASILY cause water retention- if you go above a sodium average you will see your weight spike. I recommend a sodium intake of 2,500-3k MG and above 1,000 MG. Consistency regarding sodium is key, and just know if you have a spike in your intake your weight will go up temporarily (Restaurant food will have higher sodium, particular sauces, etc). Pay attention to the sodium content in what you purchase, and familiarize yourself with any culprits that may be causing additional retention. Fiber is another key componant to evaluating weight. Fiber aids in digestion, helps speed up the process of waste elimination, allows one to feel more satiated for longer periods of time and has other major health benefits. A good rule of thumb is to have roughly 20% of your daily total carbohydrate intake consist of dietary fiber. As fiber moves through your body, it absorbs water along the way. Therefore, should you have a particularly high fiber diet or eat foods containing high levels of fiber one day, your weight will increase due to the additional water absorbtion that it is pulling through your tract simultaneously. Exceeding my fiber levels causes a weight spike for up to 72 hours for me personally, and is something that I track in My Fitness Pal daily. Familiarize yourself with your fiber levels, and know that those consumption habits will impact your scale weight on a daily basis. Lastly, food intolerances and sensitivities manifest differently in everyone. Learning what foods work best for your body and digestive system is a key componant to looking and feeling your best. My husband recently did a full food panel, providing him with a list of foods that he is intolerant to resulting in discomfort or changes in his body (including his weight) when they are consumed. Through trial and error, I have learned that foods like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and so many other things cause extreme bloating, discomfort, and result in a scale jump as well. Evaluate your food choices, and be mindful about what you put in your body! Certain foods will work better for you than others, and knowing that all of this impacts your weight is so helpful when you are picking apart that number.
Hormones, stress and self care (especially for women) are also key components of your scale weight
Women have the priviledge of navigating monthly cycles that impact your energy levels, hormones and how your body looks and feels. If you are near a cycle, enduring a stressful time, feeling overly tired your body is going to reflect that in your weight! It is not uncommon for women to have weight fluctuations anywhere from 1-6 pounds around a cycle. Having stress management tools and being mindful of stress levels is another key componant to managing your scale weight. I implement a lot of self care to help me manage my stress, and make sure that I am taking care of my body from the inside out. If it is finals week, you have a demanding work schedule, or there is an event in your life causing stress and tension, do not be surprised if you see the scale move. That is a great indicator that its time to scale back, take some time to yourself, and give back to your amazing body. Pedicures, massages, quiet time, lighting a candle, or walks outside are all ways that I manage my stress and practice self care when I know I need it.
The next time you hop on the scale to evaluate your progress, I would encourage you to run through this list and approach your evaluations with mindful consideration. I also encourage my clients to have other (more valuable) measures of progress and success. The scale is only ONE tool for measurement, and there are so many things that it DOESN’T tell us. Be less attached to that number, and more attached to the person behind it. That number doesn’t tell you who you are, it doesn’t celebrate the exercise you did that week, it doesn’t take into account your headspace or work load, and it doesn’t tell you when you have made serious muscle gains, or lost inches! Measurements, body scans, photographs and self awareness do that. I will leave you with this question:
If you had the body of your dreams, loved how your clothes fit, and saw a difference in how you looked and more importantly how you FELT, would you care what the number on the scale is?
– Coach Carson