The scale is fickle. It can change at anytime, for seemingly any reason. For many women, it can make or break a day. The scale can leave you feeling like you’re #winning or it can make you feel like a complete failure.
This isn’t going to be one of those posts that tells you that you should ditch the scale because it is a horrible, worthless object. There’s plenty of those out there on the internet.
This isn’t one of those posts mostly because I actually believe in the scale as a useful tool. And honestly, If someone comes to me with a realistic weight loss goal, it’s my job as a coach to get them there.
So the scale is fine. It’s not your enemy, and it can be useful if used correctly. There’s one thing that you need to realize before using the scale as a tool, though.
That bathroom scale of yours? It’s fickle. It can change anytime for a number of reasons, and sometimes for no reason at all.
8 reasons the scale will change that have nothing to do with weight:
#1 Time of day
Peep these two pictures. The first was taken in the morning, just after I woke up. The second was taken in the evening, after a full day’s worth of food and water.
If I wasn’t paying attention to the time of day, I would flip out thinking I gained 8lbs when the truth is, I probably didn’t gain any weight, and this is just the difference in stomach content and water weight.
If you’re going to weigh yourself daily, make sure its always in the morning, after you pee and before you eat anything. This helps to make sure we get the most accurate number.
#2 Workout schedule
Did you know that your weight can fluctuate based off your last workout?
This is because when you workout (especially heavy strength training), your body pulls glycogen (carbohydrates) out of the muscle to use as fuel. Your body then replenishes these stores post workout. However, for every 1g of carb storage, your body retains 2-4x that amount of water as well. I won’t bore you with the details, but it has to do with the fact that each glycogen molecule is bound to a couple grams of high quality H20.
#3 Time of month
Am I right ladies? Do I even need to explain this one? We all know that scale weight goes up during your period (or as I like to call it, shark week.)
Shark week causes bloating and water retention. It can also mean a higher than usual carbohydrate intake (hello, ice cream and french fries!) which can cause water retention due to glycogen stores as well.
So next time you hop on the scale and you’re 7lbs up since last week, don’t freak. It could be just mother nature screwing with ya.
#4 Hydration Levels
This one is two fold. When you’re dehydrated, your tissues also become dehydrated. Your blood volume goes down. But also, dehydration can actually cause water retention.
When you’re adequately hydrated, your kidneys process the fluids and you pee regularly. When you’re dehydrated, your body shuts down the excretion of fluids and retains fluid. You can be dehydrated and bloated at the same time.
All of these factors can affect your scale weight positively or negatively. The solution? Drink an adequate amount of water to cut down on variability.
#5 Different Scale
Different scales will read different weights. End of story.
#6 Scale Placement
Again, look at these pictures. They were taken within seconds of each other. The only thing different? Placement of the scale in a different part of my house.
Again, the scale is fickle.
#7 Poop schedule
This is the point where I talk about poop. I’ll try and do it without laughing. Just kidding, I already giggled because I have the maturity level of a 6th grade boy.
Constipation is fairly common among women on a high protein diet. While keeping protein intake adequate is extremely important for those looking to improve their body composition, it can cause some… unfortunate side effects, especially when coupled with an inadequate water or fiber intake.
In a perfect world, we would all have regular bowel movements. But life isn’t perfect, and your schedule can affect how much poo you have in your system when you weigh yourself.
So maybe you didn’t gain 2lbs in a day. Maybe you’re just full of shit….literally.
#8 Just because
Last but not least, sometimes the scale changes for no reason at all. Does it mean you’re a failure? Nah. Does it mean you’ve gained weight? Maybe not. It means its probably just a weird fluctuation. Shrug.
Bottom line? Use the scale to track progress, if you want. But don’t get caught up in the daily or weekly fluctuations. The scale can change for any number of reasons.
To minimize the inconsistencies in the scale reading, try and weigh yourself on the same scale, at the same time of day, preferably in the morning before you eat and after you go to the bathroom.
The scale is a tool. JUST a tool. Use it in conjunction with other tools to measure progress (pictures, tape measurements, body fat measurements) and don’t sweat the fluctuations.
If you have a specific weight loss goal, remember that what matters is a GENERAL trend in the downward direction. Don’t get too caught up in the individual data points.