January 2017 we start at X weight and by January 2018 or before our holiday to Ibiza in July we want to be Y weight.
Most of us exercise or diet to transform our body. Social media suggests that at least a third of New Year’s resolutions are fitness related and that most people are focused on improving their body shape. However, we all realise that this body transformation can take time. So in order to stay motivated and feel like we are making progress most of us use the scales as a form of measurement.
May be the scales are not the best thing to use to measure your progress…
- Weight does NOT = fat
Just because you lost weight does not mean you have lost fat. Depending on your nutrition and training your weight loss could be muscle loss. Check out my post on optimal protein intake to ensure you limit any muscle loss. Conversely, just because you have put on weight does not mean you have gained fat. Muscle weighs more than fat. If you are resistance training (weight training) regularly and eating well then it is likely that you have gained some muscle.
- Resistance training increases bone density
As well as weight training increasing your muscle mass, it can and will increase your bone density, which can also affect your weight. More dense bones = greater weight.
- Resistance training can cause micro-tears
Don’t worry micro-tears in the muscle are not a bad thing. Our muscles tear in order to repair and become stronger. It is a sign our body is adapting to the new stress we are placing it under. However, this process also causes extra water retention.
- Bowel movements
Sorry, it has to be said. If you are constipated or just haven’t been to the toilet for a while you are going to weigh a little more.
If you have just finished an intensive fitness class or workout, or like me you just sweat at the sight of a dumbbell (sweating isn’t a bad thing by the way) and weigh yourself after you are likely to weigh less. In fact I helped a friend out at university with his dissertation, which involved me running for 90 minutes in a heat chamber set at 32 degrees C and high humidity. Needless to say I was surrounded by a pool of sweat by the time I finished. I also lost 4lbs in weight (fluid loss). I lost no fat or muscle, just water, so I am by no means advocating this as some sort of weight loss regime.
- Certain Foods increase your water retention
- Carbohydrates – With every gram of glycogen you eat, your body stores 3-4g of water
- Salt – if you have eaten a salty meal/ food high in sodium then you are more likely to retain water, which increases your weight. Keep hydrated, a well hydrated body is less likely to retain water and maintain a healthy fluid balance. You should aim to drink 2-2.5 litres (8 glasses) of water a day. For those that train or live in the sweatbox that is Bangkok (or similar warm climates) you may need to increase this amount. It is easy enough to tell whether you are adequately hydrated by the colour of your pee. Check out the hydration chart below.
- Possible medication you are taking
Some medication, including the pill can cause water retention, which as you now know causes weight gain.
Reason number 8 for women. Your menstrual cycle. Just before your period you can gain up to 10lbs in water weight. On average women gain 5lbs, but your weight should return to normal once your period starts or shortly after.
If you do intend to use the scales, here are a couple of tips
- Weight yourself first thing in the morning. Preferably after you have been to the toilet.
- Do it at the same time on the same day each time you weigh yourself.
- Try to only weigh yourself once a week, at most. Don’t drive yourself crazy doing it every day.
- Don’t get deflated or elated if your weight has gone up or down slightly – Remember, weight does not equal fat.
- It is very unlikely you will gain more than 2 pounds of muscle per month. Therefore if your weight gain over a month far exceeds this amount it is either due to the reasons above or you may need to check your diet for any hidden calories.
I would be really interested to hear if you use the scales? What have been your experiences?
Don’t forget to tag a friend that may be using the scales to track their weight and are currently stuck in a rut because those scales don’t seem to be budging.
Questions in the comments section.