“New Year, New You”, right? Since January 1st, I’ve been hearing just about nothing else (in one form or another).
Overheard in lines at the grocery store, at other tables as I sip my coffee at the local café, on all of my social media feeds…..
“I HAVE to lose 20 lbs this year.”
“I set a goal to go to the gym every morning.”
“I was doing paleo but I just started ‘keto’.”
“I’ve sworn off desserts and booze until I can fit into my jeans again.”
“I’m on a cleanse to detox after the holidays.”
I simply cannot sigh loud enough. Or maybe I can. S-I-G-H.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the intentions are in the right place – and kudos if you’re one of the 8% of people (yep, that’s the grim stat for success!) who may actually achieve your new year’s resolution!
Well aware that everyone is looking to jump onto the healthy-active-living bandwagon from now until about the second week of February, the world of Big Food, Big Pharma, Big Gym and Big Celebrity marketing is also enthusiastically trying to sell you the magic bullet that’ll get you there – you know, to Perfect Weight Nirvana this year.
Since ‘getting fit’ and ‘losing weight’ tops the list for Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions almost every year, January is often my busiest month for seeing clients one-on-one.
And one of the most common frustrations I hear, especially from women, relates to what we see on our bathroom scales when we stand on it 100 times a day – which you know is the typical move when you’re struggling with weight (not recommended by the way!)
But I know it happens and there is a love-hate relationship with bathroom scales, so I thought I’d clear up some confusion on the matter because it can be frustrating (and infuriating!) and 110% demotivating when you are concentrating on making change and the numbers are not moving the way you hoped, or believed, they would.
Truly, I wish you’d put that scale away in the deepest, darkest corner of your garage and gauge your health, your weight loss progression, your worth based on other criteria. Like how strong and vital you feel. How your clothes fit and feel. How you share your unique gifts with the world.
But…. if you are going to use the scale as a tool (not a judge and jury) to help you manage your health goals, then at the very least you need to understand how it works. And what story it is trying to tell you.
So here are 6 truths about those annoyingly normal daily weight fluctuations:
1| Scale weight is not a true measurement of your health. It is simply one of many variables you should be taking into account to determine if you are approaching or maintaining your optimal body weight. (See numbers 2,3,4,5, and 6 for more details. Yeah – there are a LOT of factors when it comes to the number on the scale!)
2| When you wake up after fasting – usually for around 9-12 hours – you’re completely dehydrated and at your lowest weight of the day. This is why so many fad diet gurus recommend weighing yourself first thing in the morning after you’ve peed, and before you eat or drink anything. You’ll be at your skinniest (NOT – but that’s what they want you to think).
3| Speaking of pooping (‘cause I always do!) … you can experience daily weight fluctuations of 1-3+ lbs due to waste that could be lingering in your large colon. Who knew poop could be so heavy?
But it totally can be and if you are constipated or bloated – again, you’ll weigh heavier. So be sure to keep the bowels moving with plenty of fluids, plant-based fibre and targeted supplementation, if necessary.
4| Your scale doesn’t just weigh fat. It weighs muscle, bone, organs, water, and as you just learned – poop!
When the number goes down on the scale, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost body fat as the average bathroom scale has no way of telling you what bodily tissues or liquids you’ve lost. There are other scales that will measure body fat and fat-free tissues and hydration – but be really cautious about jumping to the conclusion that the number you see on your bathroom scale is accurately measuring the right things.
FACT: The more muscle you have, the more energy your body burns, even when you’re just sitting around – due to the fact that it’s a metabolically active tissue. That’s one reason why a fit, active person is generally able to eat more than the chronic dieter who is unknowingly breaking down and losing muscle.
5| Likewise, the scale can’t tell if you’ve gained muscle.
Building muscle makes it possible to drop clothing sizes (and lose inches) without a significant change, if any, in scale weight.
THINK OF IT LIKE THIS: a pound of muscle is like a small, compact brick, whereas a pound of fat is like a bulky, lumpy pillow. So that’s why when you gain muscle and lose fat, your figure appears slimmer and more firm – but your scale weight may not change much.
6| For all the ladies out there…it’s not you, it’s your HORMONES!
Some women can gain up to 10 lbs right before or during their period. No joke. This is because of the natural drop in Progesterone (just before your period), often causes digestive issues like water retention and constipation. And, let’s not forget how heavy poop can be!
Our bodies also tend to lose Magnesium in the days before menstruation, which drives our Insulin levels up leading to an increase in food cravings – especially for sugar.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that keeps blood sugar levels in check but is also considered a fat storage hormone.
THE BOTTOM LINE: these yo-yoing numbers have nothing to do with your long-term progress and they are just part of the overall health optimization journey.
Simply do your best to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle and understand that daily weight fluctuations are completely normal!
“The scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity.
It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength or love.”
— Steve Maraboli
So maybe it’s time…time to ditch the scale altogether. Seriously. Maybe that’s the most important New Year’s resolution you can make this year or any year.
It might not be the best approach to slaying your weight loss goals – especially if you’re using these numbers to berate yourself into restrictive dieting and vigorous exercise.
If you are going to keep your scale – know that it is just a tool and not something that defines you or your accomplishments. Know that it’s not the ultimate indicator of health. Know that it measures the weight of your bones, your muscles, the water you’re retaining, your poop, etc – not just fat.
Know that these numbers fluctuate along with hormonal fluctuations. So. Stop. Being. A. Slave. To. Your. Scale.
Recipe: Marinated Mixed Bean Salad
Here’s a fresh, high-fibre, plant-powered recipe to keep that digestive system happy and moving along as it should. (No heavy poop or bloated bellies weighing you down here!)
- 2 cups Green Beans (fresh or frozen)
- 4 cups Mixed Beans (cooked)
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsps Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 Garlic (clove, minced)
- 1 Lemon (juiced)
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)
- Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the green beans and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool.
- Combine all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Toss well and enjoy right away, or let marinate in the fridge overnight for more flavour.