9 things to consider before hopping on the scales
So, you've been eating well and working out and it's time to hop on the scales to see if you've been rewarded for all your good work! Before you weigh yourself, think about what the scales are telling you and more importantly, what they're not telling you!
1. Weighing yourself can be an instant emotional trigger
You woke up this morning feeling great. Your clothes seem to fit better and you're feeling proud and excited about the diet changes. Is now really a good time to weigh yourself?
If the number on the scales is more than you hoped, how will you feel? If you're anything like me, a small weight gain can take you from feeling fabulous to feeling frumpy in a split second. Don't let the scales determine how good or bad you feel!
2. The scales have no idea how healthy you are.
If you've changed up your diet and you're eating more fruit and vegetables, then it's likely that you are healthier than you were yesterday and the week before, regardless of what the number on the scales might be.
Try not to worry about small daily fluctuations in your weight and remind yourself that skinny does not always equal healthy. The benefits of exercise and a healthy diet can't be measured by a number on a scale.
2. Women can fluctuate in weight by 1 to 3kg
Menstruating women can retain fluid during their cycle and may weigh considerably more before a period. Remember the extra weight that you see on the scales is fluid and it will be gone in a few days.
3. Muscle will make you heavier
If you've just started working out, chances are you have gained muscle and may initially seem to put on weight.
How do you feel? Does your body feel stronger? Can you feel some biceps taking shape?
Most scales won't differentiate between muscle loss and fat loss.
4. The scales have no idea how hydrated or dehydrated you are.
If you must weigh yourself, think about the time of the day that you weigh in and how much you've had to drink. Did you just drink a litre of water during your workout? Have you had a lot to drink today? Or is it first thing in the morning and you've had nothing to drink since yesterday?
The amount hydration or dehydration will show on the scales and this is fluid, not fat.
5. Changes in what you eat can affect your weight.
Some people have food intolerances and gain half a kilo after a meal or overnight, as an inflammatory response to the food.
All kinds of foods such as wheat, gluten, eggs, dairy, soy can be the culprits and cause bloating and fluid retention.
If this is you, then the numbers on the scales can be very frustrating and not necessarily represent how much weight you have lost.
6. Missing your daily bowel movement can make you heavier.
When was the last time you moved your bowels? For good health it's recommended that we should go every day. But if it's been a while, you will definitely weigh more on the scales.
Make sure you're drinking enough water. If you've increased your exercise, you also need to increase your fluid intake.
7. Is your self esteem tied to your weight?
Do you need to be thin or perfect in order to like yourself? Or you feel that others won't like you unless you're thin? It might be a great time to find other things to like about yourself (hint: there are lots of them!).
Building healthy self esteem is important for everyone. What are you good at? How kind are you? Where do you find joy and contentment? Hopping on the scales every day rarely helps people with their self esteem.
If this is a big problem for you, then seeking help from a qualified counsellor is highly recommended.
8. The scales have no idea how good you look in your clothes.
When your friend tells you that you look great, do you believe her, or do you automatically respond by telling her that you have put on half a kilo?
You, your family and your friends are the best judges of how good you look. The scale has no idea, so don't let it determine how you feel about yourself!
9. Sustainable weight loss takes time
Are you are planning to lose weight and keep it off? If you want the weight loss to be sustainable, then you are looking for small, regular amounts of weight loss, not large.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, then 10kg over a year might be a realistic target. If you divide 10kg by 365 days, you will discover that it's not worth weighing yourself every day because the weight loss you're aiming for can't be measured on the scales.
What's best for you?
Some people are motivated by watching their weight slowing decreasing on the scales and others find it triggers emotions, upsets their self esteem and causes them to give up.
When I work with weight loss clients, we set targets for changing eating behaviours and exercise behaviours. I find this works so much better than aiming for a numerical weight loss goal. I encourage people not to hop on the scales but to focus on changing their health.
If you are someone who has large fluctuations in your weight during the month, regular bloating, or just can't seem to lose weight, no matter what you try, you may benefit from reading about how I work with women for holistic weight loss.
I am a Sydney based naturopath. I work with women who know that there's more to losing weight than simply eating less and moving more. You can contact me here.