How often do you step on the scale? Once a week? Monthly? Every day?
There seems to be endless arguments for and against every option. I have a standing appointment with my scale at 6:10 a.m. each morning to review the previous days events and their impact on my body weight. We do not always see eye to eye, but our daily meetings help me to start my day accurately knowing if what I am doing is working or not so I can adjust as needed in the coming day.
What, too soon?
I’ve heard a lot of arguments against weighing in daily; with the key take-away being that people feel their weight fluctuates too much from one day to the next, and they don’t want to get discouraged as they are trying to lose weight. I agree it’s possible for there to be significant fluctuations in weight on a daily basis, however, I believe this is due largely to poor diet and inconsistent weight loss habits. We should use that as motivation to clean up our diets and build more consistency in how we take care of ourselves.
I am a strong advocate for daily weighing so you have the time to react right away if the numbers start moving in the wrong direction. These numbers are also a good evaluation of the quality of your diet, and can even be an indication of hidden health issues. I think that if you’re eating the right things, in the right amounts, your weight should be fairly consistent.
(yes, yes, ladies, I know the “that time of the month” argument, but I think that week goes without saying – stay off the scales for 7 days, you don’t want to see whatever it has to say!)
Slow and steady wins the race
In the past, I used to see my numbers swing up and down quite a bit. But that was back when I was making poor food choices and didn’t have a very strong approach to losing weight. Of course, I didn’t realize all of that at the time. I used to eat a lot of “junk” and at times would just try to eat less of it to lose weight.
Junk is still junk no matter how much of it you’re eating and it will have the same results in your body either way.
For example, eating a lot of processed and packaged foods – these things are loaded with sodium which will easily cause your body to retain fluid and inflate your weigh in’s. This can cause a big difference on the scale from one day over the next. I’ve found that eating a lot of sugary and/or processed white products can also cause a lot of unwanted action on the scale. Eating a lot of sugar, white bread, pasta or rice seems to clog up the digestive system and add temporary weight until they finally make their way…..um… you know, out.
Over the last year I have slowly but surely made significant changes in not just how much I eat, but more importantly WHAT I eat. (More about that in another post to come!) I have been amazed at the consistency of my weight! Even during the process of losing weight, I was very consistent. Here is an example of what my daily numbers would look like:
Mon. – 125.0
Tues. – 125.2
Wed. – 124.8
Thur. – 124.6
Fri. – 125.0
Sat. – 124.6
Sun. – 124.4
Mon. – 124.6
Tues. – 124.2
Wed. – 124.8
Thur. – 124.0
Fri. – 124.2
Sat. – 123.8
Sun. – 124.0
So what I see is a swing back and forth of just a few tenths of a pound. Whatever whole number I am seeing most frequently is the weight that I will “claim” as my current weight.
By weighing daily, I can monitor if I am on a downward trend or an upward trend. If most of my numbers are going down a little, it’s OK if they jump back up a few tenths of a pound, usually they’ll go right back down the next day or so. Typically I don’t see fluctuations of a whole pound at a time. If I start to notice a plateau where I am bouncing back and forth with the same half pound and never going below it, (or the numbers are going up and not back down) I know it is time to review my food logs and make note of my daily calorie deficits. I will probably find that I’ve been eating just 100 or 200 calories more a day than I really should and that is keeping me in a holding pattern. Usually just a tweak or two in my daily diet will quickly correct the situation.
So, what brought all this up?
What made me think to write a post about this topic, was the way I ate last weekend and how it affected the scale. Last Saturday I attended a Bridal Shower for my best friend, Terri. I anticipated going over my daily calorie budget and I tried to offset it by doing a good treadmill run that morning before I left. However, after 2 glasses of wine, 2 cupcakes, a plate full of pasta salad and chicken salad and lots of other munchies (including M&M’s and jelly beans)….when I tried to tally everything up it came to around 2800 calories for the day. (Keep in mind, my normal daily target is 1350.)
The best part of the bridal shower was when I first got there and saw Terri. She hadn’t seen me since we tried on dresses in November.
The first words out of her mouth were “Wow, look at you! You don’t even look like you! I’ve never seen you this tiny!”
And she’s right! She’s been my best friend for about the last 15 years and she never has seen me this thin! That felt really, really good to hear her say. 🙂
One thing I have learned is that it takes a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to lose a pound of weight. I simply cannot starve myself enough to lose a pound a week, my average is 1/2 lb per week by creating an average calorie deficit of -250 per day. Conversely, it seems that about 1250 extra calories in a day can add over 1 lb. of weight to my body. I’m not crazy about this mathematical double standard!
As if the eating frenzy on Saturday weren’t enough to set my scale on tilt…my husband’s 40th birthday was on Monday, so we had cake and ice cream on Sunday! He also had asked me if I would please, for his birthday, make “sour cream cookies” like his Grandma used to make. So I searched the internet, found what I thought to be the right recipe (I had never tasted or seen these cookies he was telling me about), and at 9:00 pm Saturday after being at that shower all day, I made him cookies. And they turned out so delicious that I snarfed down several of them! Unfortunately they were about 135 calories each!
But the cookies were worth it, they made my husband happy, and he said they were “just like Grandma’s”, which made me very happy!
If you’d like to try the recipe I used, you can find it here:
Sour Cream Cookies
I weighed myself Saturday morning before all this eating of sugar, pasta and the likes, and came in at 123.4 lbs. Sunday morning it was 124.8. By Monday morning I was up to 125.4. I gained a pound per day last weekend! But at least I am aware of it, and now I can really buckle down this week to make sure I quickly counteract this.
And that, my friends, is the difference a day can make.
This observation has really helped me to reaffirm in my mind that even though I am in “maintenance mode” now, I cannot stop being relentless with counting the calories, working out to burn calories, and exercising discipline with my food choices every day. The math doesn’t lie, and neither does the bathroom scale.
You have to keep it going, if you want to keep it gone!