This is a must read for anyone who gets hung up on the scales
Do you weigh yourself daily?
Is your goal just to lose 3kg and that's it?
Is your weight decreasing too slowly for your liking?
If you answered yes to just one of those questions, you must read this from start to finish. It will save your sanity and hopefully provide you with a little extra motivation and fire to keep pushing through. All too often I find clients weighing themselves daily, getting upset with the results and then not sticking to their good eating and exercise either due to the disappointment or because they think the plan they're on isn't working. Making these decisions based solely on your daily need to weigh yourself holds no scientific justification and is not how to approach your healthy weight goals.
What is weight loss? Easy, it's the loss of body weight. What does your body weight consist of? Fat, hair, skin, bones, organs, blood cells, plasma, intistitual fluids (between cells). What do we want to lose? Fat! So when we talk about weight loss, really we are talking about fat loss. I could cut my leg off and lose weight, but is this a satisfactory result?
Your body can fluctuate in an approximate 3kg range (everyone is different, some are more, some are less). This fluctuation will depend on many factors, a few of which are: how much water you've been drinking, whether you've gone number #2's, and how much fibre and water this #2 is holding, how much sodium you have, bulky meals, composition of meals from carbs, menstrual cycle, how much glycogen is stored in the muscles and liver, toxins accumulated in the body etc.
So with that in mind, when you go for your very first weigh in, you have no idea whatsoever what the balance of the above factors is. Are you at the top of the approximate 3kg range...or the bottom in that first weigh in? No, I don't know either, so this is acceptance #1 - Accept that you have no idea whether you are actually 83kg or 80kg at your first weigh in.
Now, you follow your food plan perfectly for a whole day and drink loads of water and cut out all high sodium foods and the following day you jump on the scale and score, you are 2kg lighter! The plan must be working. You even feel those pants are a little looser around your belly. It is physiologically impossible to lose 2kg of fat in 1 day, so what you have done is altered one of the above factors (most likely glycogen and water).
But weight! (pardon the pun). Let's say you're 65kg and just trying to lose that last 2kg so you jump on the newest most exciting food plan with a couple of your overweight friends. Chances are, if you've already lost a lot of weight, so you're unlikely to lose the amount of glycogen, water and toxins as your friends. They jump on the scale the next day with their 2kg loss, and you jump on and you've gained 500g!! What the?!? It is also physiologically impossible to gain 500g of body fat overnight, so just relax - who knows you may be 5 days out from your period and your body is holding water.
What I'm getting at here is that 1) daily weighing will not tell you how much fat you've lost, 2) losing just 3kg may only be from water, glycogen and toxins and you will put it back on quicker than you can recite the alphabet, and 3) small fat losses may actually be bigger fat losses but are offset by other body weight gains or losses.
Keep reading - it gets even more interesting.
I thought I'd do a bit of case study on myself to show you. I weight myself daily for the purposes of further understanding body fluctuations and influences. I've been following my Belly Busters plan for 6 weeks during the week, but not on the weekends. Here is a table of my weigh ins day by day. All weigh ins were conducted under the same conditions at exactly the same time every day (unclothed, after urinating, before food, before bowel motion).
If we look at the first graph, it plots all the weights taken every Monday morning, after a weekend of not sticking to food plan). We can see these weights sit between 72.3 - 71kg, so it would appear that my weight loss is only 1.3kg.
The second graph plots all the weights taken on Friday, after a week of good eating and exercise, we can see the range is 72.3 - 70kg, so it would appear that my weight loss is actually 2.3kg.
If we look at the third graph, this is graphed on all the boxes on the table in yellow. Each week I picked a day that had a better weigh in than the previous week and skewed my results to make it look like I had lost 2.3kg consistently - this is the beginnings of our trend line.
The last graph clearly shows the trend line. Taking only the start and end weight we can clearly see the trend of loss. And this is one of the numbers you should be concerned with as this takes out all body fluctuations and clearly shows the loss over time. But notice I have altered some of the figures, in the first graph I took my Monday weight and added it to the end, wheras on the trendline graph, I took the weigh in from Friday as my final. So, did I lose fat or just fluctuate my water, sodium and glycogen balance?
That's where things like measurements, clothes sizing, before and after photos and body fat measurements are more important than the scale. In the past 6 weeks I lost 4cm from my belly, 3.5cm from my waist, 2cm from my butt, 1.5cm from the thigh, and 1cm from my calves. Not only that I lost 1mm off my bicep skinfold, and 4mm from my belly skinfold. My clothes are feeling looser and I'm seeing a little more definition around the back. I lost 1% body fat (scale measurement) so my total fat loss was 1.42kg, and lean mass loss of 980g. Guess what that 980g is? That's right, it's part of our fluctuating weight gain and weight loss. That 980g is most likely the glycogen that was fully topped up in my muscles and liver at the start of the 6 weeks and will show up in a body fat reading as "lean mass".
That fat loss of 1.42kg is pretty close to the 1.3kg shown by the Monday weigh in graph, which shows the net losses after water and glycogen has been retained over the weekend. And that's where I'll stop, before I get into a rant about people claiming that they've gained a kg of lean mass overnight - sorry guys, it just doesn't happen like that. So, my message to you is this.
Stop focusing on the scales and start focusing on what you have to do to ensure your TREND-LINE keeps going in the right direction. For those who would like to lose just 3kg (and not near the lower end of the healthy weight range)...I recommend you look at a goal of around 5-6kg so you can buffer the fluctuations while you practice your weight maintenance.