Have you ever been on a weight loss program and discovered a not so pleasant surprise when you stepped on the scales at the end of the week? Here’s why not to panic if you see a slight regression.
A young woman recently told me that she was quite distressed because she got on the scales that morning and discovered that she had gained five pounds overnight. She told me about how hard she had worked and how difficult it had been to lose the weight she had already lost. She told me that she had dramatically changed her eating habits and had been eating all the right things. The fact is that she had already lost a significant amount of weight and looked good. Nevertheless, she was quite despondent over the apparently sudden and substantial gain.
I tried to reassure her that she had not put on five pounds of fat overnight. In fact, unless there was a problem with the scales, there may be an accumulation of “something” but that it wasn’t fat and it would most likely be gone in a day or so. It would be tragic if she gave up after all the effort she had put in, just because she got an unusual reading from her scales on just one day.
Notwithstanding what Oprah, Dr. Oz and all the tabloids say about weighing yourself only once a week, I believe that if you are making a serious effort to lose weight, you must weigh yourself every single day. Here’s my take on why.
If you are weighing yourself only once a week and discover a five pound weight gain after a full week of making an honest effort to follow your program, it would be a normal reaction to be upset and depressed. “A whole week and I’ve gained five pounds!” What a disappointment that would be. I would be discouraged too and might even go off the program. But a one day weight gain of five pounds is much easier to explain when you consider what follows.
First, typical bathroom scales are often affected by changes in temperature and barometric pressure, not necessarily five pounds worth, but quite possibly as a contributing factor. In addition bathroom scales, when placed on a hard surface like a tile bathroom floor will read slightly differently when placed on a carpet or rug in the same bathroom.
Second, water retention is often the main culprit in an erratic series of daily weight changes. A gallon of water weighs approximately eight pounds. A standard sixteen ounce glass of water immediately after you get up in the morning, could account for as much as a pound of immediate weight before you even head in to greet the porcelain throne. And seriously, there can be a significant difference in weight, up to as much as two or three pounds, depending on whether you hit the scales before or after your encounter with the porcelain throne. And if you happened to absorb a lot of salt the day before, it may have caused some overnight water retention.
Finally, you will find you weigh more in the afternoon than in the morning for no particular reason other than that you are alive and functioning the way a human being normally functions.
If several of these factors come together at any one time, you could experience a significant difference in weight from one day to the next. But if you are aware of the factors involved, and track yourself on a daily basis, it could keep the discouragement at a slightly less depressing level when you notice a normal daily variation.
So here is the recommendation. It’s simple. Weigh yourself every day. Weigh yourself at the same time each day, preferably in the morning when you first get up, before you drink any water or coffee, and after your visit to the porcelain throne if possible. Make sure you don’t move your scales around to a different surface.just because the bathroom floor is cold. And this is key: keep a daily log of your weight and make sure you are brutally honest about what you write down. I personally keep a 4 x 6 card with my weight entered each day. That’s not anal, that’s so I can write an article like this. Plus I’ve enjoyed tracking my own nearly twenty pound weight loss over the last couple of years.
If you are truly honest with what you write down, you should notice an overall downward trend in your weight if you are following your program, with changes of as much as two pounds, up and down over a week’s time, when you weigh yourself daily. If you understand what I have written here, you will not be as discouraged when you find that your weight really does vary slightly every day. You will be able to judge for yourself whether your program is working and whether you need to make any adjustments.
As for the young woman I mentioned at the start of this article, keep up the good work, you’re doing great.
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