Sunday, February 23, 2014

Scale obsession

Man, I've sure spent some time being obsessed with my bathroom scale!  I've noticed others, as well, seem to develop an obsession when they jump on the diet bandwagon too. 

As with a lot of things pertaining to nutrition, I like to think the best policy with the scale's ok in moderation. Don't run to the bathroom and jump on the scale every chance you get. I've seen a lot of people get disappointed that way. Maybe, they just did an epic workout and the number on the scale wasn't what they expected. Maybe, you've spent a week eating perfectly according to plan and didn't lose as much as you thought. 

Relax!  There are a lot of factors to your body weight at any given point in time. Your body weight can fluctuate during the course of the day as you eat, drink, excersize, sweat, etc..  So after that epic workout your weight may not be comparable to when you weighed in earlier in the day due to hydration or food storage. At the end of a pefect week you may not have the weight loss you wanted for many different reasons, but you may have set up for a very good surprise the week after. 

It's a good idea to pick a consistent time to weigh yourself in. It's not necessary to weigh in every day either. I like to think of the diet/weight correlation longer term.  So weighing in once a week or every two weeks is more than enough. You need to think of your mental health too!  Watching those daily fluctuations might drive you crazy, and might even lead to dissapointment and ultimate failure. 

During my own weight loss journey. These are the things that I noticed that made me think staring at the scale too much was a bad idea. 

1.  It takes a calorie deficit of 3500 to lose one pound of fat. So 500 deficit per day for a week equals a pound. A 1000 per day deficit will net you less a pound in 3 days. Any more than that is uncomfortable and normally not recommended for long term sustainable weight loss. So if it takes 3 days minimum to lose a pound, and with all the other fluctuations in body weight going on, it may be hard to see anything meaningful on the scale three times a day!  It may just be confusing!

2.  For me personally, and you may find this too, there seems to be a lag on weight loss. So, if I executed the perfect plan during week one, I usually don't see the results till the following week. I've theorized this is due what I've found to be true that all calories are not created equal. I believe all the processing and preservatives don't process through some if our bodies like clean foods do. So when I start a diet I think it takes a week to work through the contamination of bad foods I ate the week before and I won't see results that first week. 

3. Obsessing over the scale is a lot of work!  With diet and exercise we already log and obsess over a lot of numbers!  There's enough opportunity for dissapointment!

4. I could lose a couple pounds on a long workout only to gain them back again as I re-hydrate. So why run to the scale?  Just to see that lower number for a minute and dissapointment yourself again  in the morning?

5. Even during the day my weight can fluctate around 5 pounds. After a night of sleep you can be a little dehydrated. As you hydrate during the day and consume food that sits in your stomach your weight can go up by the end of the day. There's a lot of variables there. 

So what did I learn?  Consistency is key. Find that time you can weigh in and take a peak once a week at most!  It will save you some frustration and the headache of trying to compute all the variables. Don't be upset by small disappointments. Think more long term about diet success because it just takes time. 

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