Raise your hand if this has happened to you. You have a great week or two of workouts, you’ve eaten healthily (for the most part), and you’ve finally been getting some good sleep. Not only do you feel great, but you could swear you look a little thinner, and maybe even your clothes feel a little different. Then it happens. You start thinking, “Wow, I bet I’ve lost at least five pounds.” So you wander past the bathroom scale and you do it – you step on the scale.
And as you wait for the new number to appear, thinking…maybe it’s maybe even more than five pounds; I feel and look great! But then the scale does the unthinkable! Instead of that five pounds (or more) you thought you lost, you’ve only lost one pound or your weight hasn’t changed at all. Or worse yet, you’ve actually gained a little weight. Your mood instantly goes from elation to disappointment, maybe even anger. You start second guessing all the healthy choices you’ve made over the past few weeks (where did you go wrong?!) and you question why you’re even doing all this if you aren’t losing weight.
When I was younger, I competed in sports where I was required to be a certain weight. This led to an obsession with the scale. And arguably, it’s one I might not have completely gotten over. When I hit 40 I started competing in triathlons and keeping my weight down was easy; my exercise was easily outpacing my calorie intake. The scale was my friend, we were best buddies, because it was always giving me a number I was happy with.
Fast forward three years. I don’t have the time to devote to endurance sports and my athletic interests are shifting. I’m coaching more and the time I do have to exercise is a mix between cardio (running, biking, or swimming) and strength training. I still workout, but you know what’s happening to my weight? NOTHING!!! I fluctuate the same three pounds week after week. The younger me is super frustrated with my old friend the scale.
I’ve had to start wrapping my head around the fact that the scale isn’t telling me the full story of my health. There is so much more to being fit and healthy than a number. Don’t get me wrong, the number a scale give you can be important, but here are some reasons you shouldn’t let it rule your life.
Body Fat vs Body Muscle
You may have heard the phrase, “Muscle weighs more than fat.” Well, that isn’t exactly true. After all, a pound is a pound. But, if you’ve been incorporating strength training you are reducing fat, which takes up more volume in your body, and you’re replacing it with lean muscle. This you may look noticeably leaner due to fat loss, but when you add in muscle gain, you may not see any change on the scale, or, the change you do see may be higher versus lower.
Weight is affected by many factors.
Not only does your weight change every day, it also changes throughout the day. Weight can fluctuate by as much as five pounds from day to day. Many factors go into that number on the scale, not just what we’ve eaten. One key factor is hydration and fluid balance. Our fluid balance is about more than just the amount we drink. Certain foods can cause your body to hold onto more water, while others can have a diuretic effect. Exercising causes small micro-tears in our muscles and as our body works to heal these, it causes water retention around the inflamed muscle.
Don’t let a number define you.
At the end of the day, which is more important: how you look, feel, and perform, or what the cold-hearted scale tells you whenever you step on it? If you feel better, you’re starting to look better, and your enjoying your workouts, it shouldn’t really matter if you’ve gained a few pounds in the process.
If you aren’t seeing the results you want from your current fitness and diet program, maybe it’s time for a more holistic approach. Set up a 30-minute introductory conversation with Adrien today to talk about Alexandria’s newest movement in health.