We now live in a world that’s addicted to data. Everything from the steps we take to the foods we eat and even our baby’s sleep patterns are now being recorded and analyzed so that new can keep track of everything and see any little change that’s happening. Now, I’m not saying that this type of obsessive measuring doesn’t hold some merit in certain situations, but for the most part I find it to be completely unnecessary.
That said, it’s been going on for decades (it just happens more now with the wonderful invention and expansion of technology). Take the scale for example – For as long as it’s been around, people have used it to obsessively track their weight. Whether you’re looking to lose or gain a few pounds, you get on the scale and it tells you where you’re at at any given time, right?
Right. But there’s nothing more deterring than not seeing the numbers you expect to see. Especially when you’ve been working extra hard for that purpose. Before you decide to throw out the scale altogether (because it can actually hold merit as a weight loss tool when used correctly), ask yourself these 13 questions:
1. What Time Is It?
In order to properly track your weight, it’s best to weigh yourself at the same time every single day/week (according to your personal preference). Ideally, you want that weigh in to happen first thing in the morning before you’ve eaten or drank anything (even more ideally, you’ll have emptied yourself) in order to get the most accurate measurement. On average, your weight can fluctuate anywhere between two and four pounds over the course of the day.
2. Have I Recently Been Traveling?
Regardless of whether you’ve been on a bus, train, or plane (or even in an automobile) for an extended period of time, there’s a good chance that your body is retaining fluids. The culprits of this water retention? Extended sitting, changes in the atmospheric pressure, and even the local weather conditions can skew your scale readings by several pounds.
3. How Hot Is It?
If you’re someone that wears rings on your fingers, you’ve probably noticed that when the weather gets particularly hot and humid, your fingers swell up and getting those rings off becomes rather difficult (if not next to impossible).
The same thing applies to the rest of your body – It puffs up and swells a bit due to water retention when it’s muggy out.
4. Did I Just Eat?
This is probably the most obvious one on the list, yet some people still neglect to take this simple thing into consideration when they jump on the scale. If you’ve just eaten a big meal and you had three glasses of wine with it, you’re weighing all of that food and liquid as well as yourself.
5. What Am I Wearing?
Again, seems obvious but is too often ignored. If you’re wearing a bunch of heavy jewellery, shoes and clothing, you should account for it. If you’re able to (aka if you’re not in a retail store or in a gym locker room full of people), you should weigh yourself naked in order to get the most accurate reading possible.
6. Have I Used The Washroom?
Have you ever noticed how much lighter you feel after having a large bowel movement? It’s not as psychosomatic as you might think – You can actually lose a few pounds immediately after evacuating yourself. This is again why it’s a good idea to weigh yourself in the morning (as that’s when most people have their first bowel movement of the day).
7. Did I Just Finish Going For A Run?
Exercise also plays a role in what your scale reading looks like. When your body begins its initial recovery stage after you’ve been on a run (walk/bike ride/cardio session), your muscles retain water in order to help them recover.
Sometimes that recovery takes a day or two (depending on how active you are), and therefore your scale might tell you that you’ve gained a couple of pounds when in fact you haven’t.
8. Have I Been Overdoing It At The Gym?
When you first start out a new diet and exercise regime, it might seem like cutting your calories drastically and practically killing yourself at the gym would make the pounds start to melt off, but that’s not always the case – You see, when such a big change happens your body sometimes feels the need to protect itself by going into conservatory mode (meaning that it starts to hold onto fat).
If you really want to see those numbers go down, try decreasing your exercise intensity for a couple of weeks until your body adjusts to its new routine.
9. Am I Getting Enough Water?
When you don’t get enough water (regardless of how disciplined you’re being with every other aspect), dehydration will force your body to retain fluids in order to protect itself.
On the other hand, making sure that you’re drinking lots of water to flush out your system increases your body’s efficiency and helps to remove the by-products of fat metabolism.
10. Am I Currently Experiencing A Hormonal Change?
Women have to deal with a ton of hormonal changes. Menopause, PMS, and other hormonal fluctuations can have your body retaining fluids and your scale reading an artificially high number for up to ten days. So don’t freak out if your scale says that you’ve gained five pounds and you’ve just started your period, everything will work itself out in just a few days.
11. Have I Just Started Strength Training?
Everyone knows that muscle weighs more than fat (which is why it’s also important to take measurements in addition to weighing yourself), but even if you’ve just started strength straining you might notice the numbers on your scale going up instead of down.
Why? Because when you begin to challenge your body, it pulls water into its cells as a defense mechanism. Don’t freak out – After a few months of consistency everything should even out and you’ll start to see those number decreasing.
12. How Stressed Out Am I?
We can thank our ancestors for this one – When your body is under severe stress, it keeps itself on high alert in case you need to jump into battle (the fight part of ‘fight or flight’). To make sure that it’s ready for the battle, it holds onto every single resource it can find (meaning that it retains water to stay hydrated and holds onto fat stores). Yoga, meditation, and regular exercise are all incredible stress relievers, so get moving and your body should eventually work itself out.
13. Am I Taking Medication?
There are a ton of different medications that can alter the way your body chooses to metabolize fat stores; here are just a few (these also tend to be the biggest culprits):
- Blood Pressure Medications
- Diabetes Medications
- Heart Medications
- Asthma Medications
- Cancer Treatments
If you’ve just started one or more of the medications listen above, there’s a good chance that that’s what’s making the scale read higher than normal. The good news is that it won’t last forever – Once your body gets used to the change and decides that it’s safe to release the extra weight again, you’ll start to see the numbers dwindle.
And there you have it! Once you’ve eliminated all of those questions, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel better about why the numbers aren’t going down as fast as you’d like them to.
If you’re still using an outdated scale to measure your progress though, you might want to toss it and invest in one like this instead – It’s able to hold memory for up to eight people and not only measures your weight, but also your body fat, water, muscle, and bone density (when in athlete mode). With a scale like this on your side, you’ll be able to get a much more accurate reading than you would with one that simply measures your weight (though if that’s really all you want, here’s a good one. Either way you decide to go about it, I’d still recommend measuring your body with a tape as well to get a better idea of whether your body composition is improving.
How do you keep track of your health and fitness progress? Let us know in the comments section below.
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