Losing weight is hard. We focus solely on the number on our scale (mostly because it is fast an easy to do). That number goes up, it goes down and so does our sanity.
Losing weight it involves spending time at the gym, stopping yourself from eating your favorite foods, and saying “no” to things that make you happy in general and “yes” to things that don’t.
If you’re like most people, you want to see results that justify your hard work. And that result, more often than not, has to do with seeing that number on the scale go steadily down. So you weigh yourself. Even though you know you shouldn’t, you weigh yourself every day because you need a reason to keep going.
Everything is fine, until the unthinkable happens: the scale stops going down. Or, after one “cheat day” you find yourself 8 pounds heavier and you think, “Oh no! Everything I’ve done for the past 2 weeks is for nothing!” Repeat this a few times and before you know it, you’ve given up on working out and you’ve dumped your diet and are back to squat one.
The truth is you were probable doing a great job. You were just overly focused on the wrong indicators. Wanting to lose weight is a great goal, but the scale is just a number. It tells us how much you weigh (water, fat, muscle, bones etc.) not how much fat you have in your body.
Here are some reasons why you should not depend on the scale.
First and foremost…
- You’re confusing “weight loss” with “fat loss”
It’s a safe bet to assume that when people want to lose weight, what they really mean is that they want to lose fat. The problem is, many people use the words “weight loss” and “fat loss” interchangeably, which are two separate concepts.
Losing Weight is not hard– you’ll drop a few pounds if you sit in a sauna for a while. Fat loss is harder to achieve, depends on several factors, and it takes more time than you think to truly lose it. Here are a couple key points about fat loss to consider:
- When losing weight, you lose more than just fat.
Muscle and water are two other components that make up your weight, and when you lose weight, you can lose some of each. How much of each you lose depends in part on how much fat you have to lose when you start. Overweight people have more to lose than thin people, and will be able to lose weight faster as well.
- Losing weight is fast at first, but dropping actual fat takes time– more time than you think.
Many people set fat loss goals for themselves that are unreasonable (see any challenge/product that will get you to lose 30 lbs in 6 weeks). The truth is, without going on an unhealthy near-starvation diet, you can only expect to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week at best. If you are unsure about whether you are losing weight or fat, contact us for a FREE INBODY ASSESSMENT SCAN
Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in a week, because even if you do, that weight is not going to be all fat. Losing muscle is not good for your health, and you will want to preserve it as much as you can.
2. You’re retaining water due to your salt intake
Salt (or more accurately, sodium) is everywhere and extremely hard to avoid. It might not surprise you that a single patty cheeseburger contains over 500 mg of sodium (nearly a quarter of the daily recommended levels).
Sodium is linked with water retention, and it is the job of your kidneys to expel unneeded sodium out of your body. Until your kidneys are able to do that, you will temporarily be holding onto extra water.
So, if you were on a diet but flooded your body with more salt than you normally have, you can expect to see a temporary increase in weight. It doesn’t mean that all your hard work is for nothing; it just means that you’re experiencing additional water weight because of the extra sodium in your body.
However, there are other factors other than diet that can lead to fluctuating weight on the scale, including…
3. Your muscle gains are outweighing your fat loss
If you’re lifting weights as part of your strategy to burn fat and lose weight, you’re doing something right! Adding resistance training to your fat/weight loss plan is a great way to protect and preserve muscle loss as you subtract fat from your frame. This is why we focus on changing the body fat % of clients, so we focus on not only losing fat, but also focus on getting our clients stronger.
However, if you’re new to weightlifting and you’re pushing yourself hard, you’re going to see some things on the scale that may surprise you. Your weight might actually not go down; it might go up! Why?
This is because as you are losing fat, you are replacing that weight with muscle. Your weight may not go down, but your body fat percentage will.
There are so many things that can affect your weight, so you should never get into the habit of weighing yourself every day. So if not that, what should you be doing?
- Look for consistent, steady, and gradual changes in your weight.
As difficult as it sounds, if you are using just a scale to determine your progress, you have to take the averages from your measurements. This will help us determine trends in your weight and will help you go against going all out for some quick fix or to get to a certain number fast in order to win a competition.
- Get your body composition analyzed and track your body fat percentage
Because your weight is made up of many different elements and can fluctuate for so many different reasons, assessing your weight by tracking your body composition is a much better way to determine how you’re meeting your goals.
Bottom Line!!! Don’t let the scale trick you!
Don’t let your daily and weekly fluctuations in body weight discourage you. It is completely normal and it does NOT reflect fat loss programs. If you diet and exercise properly with enough patience and determination, you will reach your goals.
If you need help reaching your goals, contact us here at Strive Fitness and Performance and we can set up a consultation to figure out the right path for you.
Committed to your success,