January 15, 2015

Why the Number on Your Scale May Be Deceiving

Many of us get frustrated by the fluctuations that we see in our weight over the course of a day, week or month. Seeing any kind of precipitous drop in the number on the scale can be cause for celebration, while increases can be desperately frustrating. Oftentimes, we see weight increases from day today and try new and drastic weight loss methods to return scale to “normal”. Or we simply give up in frustration.

Most people do not realize that it is how they weight themselves and what they do over the course of the day or week that can cause many of these fluctuations. So let’s explore the best practices in measuring and comparing your weight loss.

Have you ever noticed that when you go to the doctor you always get on the same scale? There’s a good reason for that and it involves consistency. No two scales are calibrated exactly the same way and the differences can be staggering – several pounds worth. Make sure that you use the same scale whenever you weigh yourself and avoid using the scale at the supermarket unless that’s the one that you decide is your primary.

Similar to the above, the time of day and what you wear is very important to maintaining consistent readings and comparable results. Your weight can fluctuate significantly throughout the day which means that taking your reading in the morning versus the afternoon may show two very different results. What you wear can also make a difference. Clothes can weigh a few pounds or more. To ensure consistency, choose the time of day, ideally in the morning and the clothes you will wear on the scale, ideally your underwear. Keeping these variables in check can offer a good basis for measuring results.

If you are embarking on a new exercise regimen, you may also notice that your weight may increase, especially over the course of the first few weeks. This is completely normal and should not discourage you. As we work out, especially when our muscles are new to it, small tears form in the muscle fibers. These tears allowed the muscles to grow but they also require water to fill the void. Depending on how you exercise, this can add a few to several pounds of water weight, which will eventually dissipate as your muscles become more accustomed to your workouts

And of course what we eat will make a significant difference in our weight. Eating high sodium foods promotes water retention and can change our body weighs from day to day, even if our caloric intake is similar or the same. A good rule of thumb is to avoid foods that are very high in sodium. The easy way to do this is by avoiding most fast food items and choosing from the healthier menu at a restaurant.

These are just a few of the ways to ensure that you do not get discouraged when you step on the scale. You should also remember that your blood test results, waistline, and general feeling throughout the day are all important indicators of health above and beyond your actual weight. As always, you can feel free to call us if you have any questions about your weight loss and measuring your progress.

2018, WakeMed