We’ve all done it – stepped on the scale and been shocked or panicked by the sudden increase in the number flashing back at us. This is especially true if you weigh yourself on a daily basis (which I don’t recommend anyhow, but that’s a different topic). Throughout the day, and from day to day, it’s completely normal for your weight to change by as much as five pounds. That’s right, it’s normal. Here’s why.
The amount of water you drink each day will impact your weight. Many people are dehydrated, which makes their body hold any water it can. If you stay properly hydrated, your body will process it faster and your body won’t need to hang onto it. The first thought is to cut back on water in order to lose weight, but that’s the opposite of what you should do – drink up! It’s especially important to drink more if you’re highly active, when it’s hot out, or if you’ve been sweating a lot. Replace what your body has used and then some! You’ll be surprised in how this can impact you in so many ways, from your weight to your energy levels.
Ate a carb-dense meal last night? You can bet your weight will be up a little bit for the next couple of days. Carbs inherently make you hold water – approximately four grams of water per gram of carbs – so don’t be shocked (maybe just avoid the scale until your body has processed the food). Remember this the next time you go for an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner. The same can be said for a day in which you just eat more or less food than normal – what you put into your body will obviously impact the number on the scale.
Regular bowel movements are part of a balanced, healthy meal plan. With the right balance of nutrients, your body will process food appropriately and things will run as needed. If your bathroom habits are off for a few days, you’ll see that reflected in your weight.
This might not be the case for everyone, but when I’m in competition prep and pretty low body fat, teaching BodyStep classes has a negative impact on my body and weight. Exercise is a stress on your body, and your cortisol levels will rise. Add in the fact that I sweat a LOT when teaching and can’t really stop to drink enough to replace it, my body goes a little haywire. I tracked this a couple of weeks in a row and it was always the same pattern: I would look and feel great over the weekend, then by Wednesday (after two Step classes and one BodyPump), my weight would be up and I would look less defined because of the water retention. It would then return to normal by Saturday, just in time to start again on Monday.
Since my competition, I’ve keep a close eye on my weight just out of personal interest, like an experiment. I wanted to see how the new meal plan would impact me, and how my classes truly influence my weight when I’m this lean. Warning, I’m going to break the female-code and share my weight (LOL). I competed at 140lbs, and have been maintaining around 142lbs since. Last week I taught two Step classes and one Pump class, and also had a re-feed meal after the second Step class on Wednesday. On Thursday, my weight went up to 145lbs, and I went right back to my meal plan. By Friday, I was back down to 142lbs. The increase in carbs and calories was reflected, but over the course of the next day, my body processed them and balanced out again.
Oh, and ladies, you can bet your monthly cycle will impact you pretty strongly. Many females will retain water around their cycle and will weigh heavier. Keep this in mind, and think about avoid the scale around these times. There’s nothing you can do about it.
Do’s and Don’ts
If you’re going to weigh yourself for tracking purposes, the following tips might help your mental health:
- Do weigh yourself at the same time of day, using the same scale (e.g., first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom).
- Do use other methods to track progress as well. How are your clothes fitting, do you see changes in your body? Compare pictures from month to month – these are reliable tools to use.
- Don’t weigh yourself constantly throughout the day, or even day to day – there’s just no point. If you want to track your weight, check it once a week at the most, on the same day.
- Don’t let the number impact your mood. This number doesn’t hold any value other than a tool to track progress if you’re trying to lose or gain weight.
Remember, the number on the scale isn’t an indicator of who you ARE. Being up 10 lbs doesn’t make you less smart, or make your family like you less. If stepping on the scale has the potential to ruin your day, or drive you to eat a whole bag of cookies – throw it away! Just don’t use it. There’s no point in letting a number control you!