Manic Monday ~ Scale Weight Reactions

Welcome Monday! ...Aaaand, how many of you stepped on the scale this morning? If you are one of the many who did just that, then how did your scale read today? Perhaps you didn't step on the scale today. What do you think your scale will display? A number that is "fair"... or maybe a number that says "victory!" Maybe it's a number that defeats you? Whatever the reading on your scale, it's your choice to have a reaction that either takes you down a path of destruction or a high road approach toward your goals. You certainly want to shoot for the high road! I can tell you many stories of different reactions with scale weight. I have had clients who would weigh themselves 2-3 times a day. I categorized these clients as "CWD." This acronym stands for: Compulsive Weighing Disorder. These people are constantly relying on the scale to give them that affirmation that the day is going well. When the scales read an acceptable number, these people are satisfied and can sleep well. HOWEVER, if the scale spits back a number that doesn't match where they think they should be..... Whoaaaaa Nellie! Watch out! Their minds are spinning, they are analyzing their every move of ingestion, and they are in disbelief! For the most part, that is what I have witnessed. The remedy: hide the scale! Or at least put it away and allow for once a week weigh ins. No one should live in bondage of this! There are several reasons why the scale will spit back inconsistent numbers hour by hour. Some of those reasons may be due to the amount of water in your body (which varies quite a bit throughout the day) or the fact that you had a tough cardio or strength workout that requires your body to hold onto water in the muscle during recovery. A higher sodium meal the night before may cause your body to retain water. Also, when you ingest food, you are ingesting fuel that is weighted. Fuel that isn't used will be digested and some will be put into storage (fat cells). The variation of scale weight throughout the day will certainly happen. And in most cases you will weigh heavier as the day goes versus when you first wake up. Another reaction is caused by a lack of patience. People will start a program or a new regime that looks to be promising. In fact, they will follow their new program at 90-95% perfection and hop on the scale 5 days later to find they have GAINED weight. Usually 2-4 pounds (in a span of 4-10 days). So they see this number, get discouraged because they are convinced the program doesn't work, and then they quit their program. I certainly see the logic in that reaction, but as a witness to hundreds of client programs, I will be the first to say that process of gaining weight in the beginning is normal. When a person starts a new exercise or eating plan, chances are the body is making some changes. Some of those changes cause a TEMPORARY weight gain. This is caused mostly by retaining water. People who are starting a new exercise program are most likely to engage new muscle movements causing the muscle the need to recover. Remember from above, the muscle uses a lot of water especially in recovery. Also, a new eating program usually incorporates more water based foods like fruit and vegetables. Not to mention, drinking much more water is usually a prescription given out too. With all of this extra water, it will take the body a few weeks to figure it out. The body usually gets use to the abundance of water and therefore will adapt by releasing the water stores day by day to an efficient function. So if you are starting a new regime or are ingesting a whole new set of healthy foods then be patient! You may not see immediate scale weight results for a few weeks, BUT you will start to feel good! There's one last scale issue I have to address. As many people go forward with their new lifestyle changes, many begin to see a slight rise in scale weight after they have lost several pounds over a course of a few months. If you are someone who is still staying true to the healthy lifestyle, most likely this slight increase is due to an increase in muscle density. Lean muscle is dense. The more a person conditions and strengthens the muscle, the more dense the muscle becomes, therefore weighing more. Essentially one could very well be losing body fat and gain lean muscle. You may be down in dress size and inches but gain a couple of pounds. If this is the case don't have a panic attack. If you are following a good regime, you are doing good! Don't ditch your scale. Scales can be a good way to measure how well you are doing. But don't let the scale be your only unit of measure. If possible, take body circumference measurements bi-weekly or monthly. Also, many physicians or health professionals can test your body fat composition so that you have a more accurate idea of what type of weight you are losing or gaining whether it be muscle weight or fat stores. Just be mindful of the fact that although the scale is a tool to monitor progress, it can be misleading under certain circumstances. Find more than one way to monitor your progress! Don't be chained to your scale either. No one wants to be dictated by a number! If you are true to yourself and your efforts towards a healthier life, you will see results. Have a GREAT Monday! Rachel Zimmerman, Certified Personal Trainer and Life Coach ACE/NSCA Wife, Mother, and Friend

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