April 1, 2024

The Scale Isn’t Always the Truth

By Logan Anderson, BA, CPT, CIFT
Owner of All Strong Fitness LLC

A weight scale can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. One week you are down 3 pounds, and the next week, you’ve gained it all back…What’s going on here? You have seemingly done everything right and it seems like the scale is against you. But is the scale really against you?

So what really happens when the scale jumps high one week, but then goes back to normal another week? The first thing that I want to address is weight vs. fat on your body. When we are trying to lose “weight,”  one is normally shooting to lose fat, not weight. Weight is a general term that can imply any type of weight from the body. This includes fat mass AND lean mass, which can include bone, muscle, water and more. So, when it comes to the weight scale, realize that not everything you lose OR gain will be fat. Most of the time when people lose a bunch of weight at the beginning of the diet, it is due to water weight. I have even worked with people who have lost 5-10 pounds in the first week of their diet. Was this all fat? In all reality, it was probably 1 pound of fat and 4-9 pounds of water. This can be the same when gaining weight too. If you ate a bunch of salty food one night, you might have “gained” 3-5 pounds in water weight the next morning.

In addition to this, your scale might not always be accurate. Depending on where you place your scale on the ground, how well you distribute your weight on the scale, and even the battery life of the scale, are all variables that can skew results. I should also mention that between different weight scales, there can be a large difference in “output.”  So don’t feel bad if you visit your family for the weekend, and “gain” 10 pounds on their scale. Whether the scale actually is inaccurate or it simply reads 1-3 pounds heavier than your other scale, this is also not a time you should be concerned.

Lastly, you need to make sure you are weighing yourself at the same time of day. After eating throughout the day, you have effectively “gained” a large amount of weight. If you weigh yourself at the beginning of the day one day, and the end of the day another day, you might be shocked to have “gained” 5 pounds. My best advice for this, if you are going to weigh yourself, is to do it after you wake up, use the restroom, and before you eat anything.

Although I don’t believe anyone needs to weigh themselves daily to keep track of their weight loss or maintenance program, knowing some of these “troubleshooting” errors can alleviate any mental pain you might have in the weighing process. On top of this, you may know someone who is going through this process and is frustrated because “the scale is always up.” The scale isn’t everything when losing weight, so don’t give the scale power it doesn’t deserve.

Logan Anderson is the owner of All Strong Fitness LLC. For more information, please visit allstrongfitness.org.

Filed Under: Health & Wellness, News

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