I don’t care how knowledgeable you are about weight fluctuations or how strong you are emotionally, getting on the scale can be a mindfuck.
You know what I’m talking about. Those 4 seconds while you’re standing on the scale and it’s loading on your weight you’re thinking “Dear scale, please don’t ruin my day right now”.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The word I would use to describe most scale experiences would be: Anxiety.
However, anxiety usually occurs when the fear of something that WILL happen is more frightening than the thing itself.
I’ve found in my own life that anxiety is born from ambiguity or lack of information. If I’m having anxiety about my future, making short term + long term to-do lists often helps. If I’m having anxiety about a test, it’s usually because I didn’t study.
When it comes to the scale, I truly believe that the anxiety can be defeated if you can wrap your head around these 10 things.
1) Progress isn’t linear
Don’t expect to lose weight every time you get on the scale. It’s just not going to happen. Even if you’re nutrition is perfect, there are more factors at play (we will go over soon). It’s like watching a stock. You don’t freak out over day to day fluctuations because you’re more focused on the TREND (unless you owned ENRON…my B). The same goes for your fat loss. You won’t lose weight every day. Focus on the trends.
Take my client Justin for example. Justin graphed out his weight loss journey for the first 8 weeks. While his level of consistency may have warranted progress that looks like the picture on the left, it will always look more like the picture on the right no matter WHAT.
2) Don’t JUST use the scale
The scale just tells you how hard gravity is pulling you back towards the earth. That’s it. It doesn’t tell you what you look like, your energy levels, your body fat, your muscle size, how you feel in your clothes etc. Make sure you’re taking measurements, progress pictures, and paying attention to how your clothes fit because the scale can be a tricky mf’er. You’ll care less about the scale fluctuating if your other metrics are moving. Besides, I’d take those changes over the scale any day. And so would you if you’re honest.
3) Wait 2 weeks before changing anything
Maintaining your weight is awesome. It’s progress. If you’re maintaining a new low weight you’re sending a signal to your body that says “listen here biatch, this is the new me.” But seriously, if things aren’t moving don’t jump ship right away. Wait at least two weeks of not losing scale weight or seeing measurement changes before you change anything. 9 times of out 10 you just need to give it a little more time.
4) Losing 1lb per week is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING progress.
Most people quit their diet because “it’s not working” or “it’s working so fast that I’m starving myself and…fuck it I’m hangry”. Once you understand that losing 1lb per week is absolutely amazing progress you will be able to accept the slow + steady approach. If someone said you would be down 50lbs a year from now, would you take it? Remember, sustainability and speed are almost always inversely correlated. Be the tortoise 🙂
5) Be consistent with WHEN + HOW you weigh in
Anyone who has ever gone through a “weigh myself really often” phase knows that you’re going to weigh a few lbs more in the evening than you do in the morning. So…pick the same time each day to weigh in. Most people know this. What they don’t do consistently are the little factors. If you pee before you weigh in, pee first every day. If you wait never drink water before you weigh in, never drink water before you weigh in. Trust me, if you normally go poo before you weigh in but today you didn’t, the scale will obviously be higher. That food is still in you. If you drink 16oz of water, you’re going to weigh 16oz more. Be consistent with when and how you weigh in
6) You’ll weigh more the following day if you
Had a hard workout – When you weight train, your body breaks down muscle. In order to repair these muscles, your body is going to retain a bit more water than normal. This is ok. It will go away. It’s water. Not fat.
- Had more salt than usual – Let me say 1 thing…Salt is not “unhealthy”. Salt is a super important electrolyte for bodily functions and athletic performance. You eating a “salty” meal isn’t going to hinder your fat loss at all. In fact, most of us could probably use an uptick in salt intake for optimal health. That being said, if you eat “more salt than you usually eat” (not a specific threshold) you are going to retain some water the following day.
- Had more carbs than usual – Literally the exact same thing as the salt one lol. Carbs aren’t bad. If you have more than “you normally have” you will retain some water. It’s ok. It will go away. It’s just water. Not fat.
7) Should you weigh yourself after a “bad” day?
You definitely don’t have to. There are two schools of thought here. Depending on how you feel about the scale I usually offer them up in this order.
- Get on the scale – If you’re having trouble believing “it’s just water” and you really think you gained a lot of fat from 1 meal, you may want to get on the scale and WATCH this drop in water weight occur over the next few days. This is usually what most people believe when they’re first dieting and I’ve seen a lot of people have a really great “holy shit that went away so fast” realization. If you can handle seeing that number and staying on track, do it. If not, go with #2. Both work just fine 🙂
- Don’t get on the scale – If you know you went completely overboard and seeing that high number is going to send you spiraling into a bad place. As long as you’re putting it behind you and getting back on track, you don’t need to get on the scale for a few days. If you think it’s going to piss you off and threaten your “back on track” mentality, definitely avoid it for a few days and just get back to work.
8) Whoosh + Rebound vs. Spike + Drop
This one refers back to #1 the common misconception that weight loss is going to be linear. A lot of times it happens in coinciding drops and gains that net the truth. (wtf does that mean). If we look at Justin’s graph we will see that after every “whoosh” (big drop in weight loss) there was a slight “rebound” that still ended in a net loss. In the same vein, every “spike” upwards in weight was followed by a “drop”. Every time you’re trending quickly in one direction, be prepared for a slight bump in the other.
9) No…you’re not just “gaining muscle”
“Well, if I’m not losing any weight it’s probably from all this working out I’m doing. I’m just gaining muscle”. Meh. I wish 🙁 As much as I’d like that to be the case, the kind of muscle growth you would see on the scale happens at a microscopic speed compared to your fat loss. Not only that, but you’d have to be in a relatively significant caloric surplus for a long time to see those kind of changes. Because you’re most likely in a calorie deficit, this is more an excuse than anything.
10) Chill. Out 🙂
Don’t let the scale run your life. It doesn’t define you. When you’re 90 years old running around on too much viagra terrorizing a nursing home and rigging bingo night, you’re going to regret letting this metal square stress you out. If you aren’t seeing the results you’d like to see on the scale, do an honest audit of your actions and see if you’re really following your plan. If you aren’t….enough said. If you are, maybe you need to change something (after 2+ weeks) and it’s worth discussing with your coach. There’s more to life than worrying about what you weigh.
Like skillet-made brownies…