Brenda Sue and I have addressed a recurring issue with several of our online clients that I am not sure will ever be resolved. The issue is one of daily weight checking. If there is something that will quickly derail one who is on a weight loss journey, it is erratic weighing once or even several times in a single day. With some, it’s almost like they might hop onto their bathroom scale after every time they open and close their refrigerator door. This behavior is part of an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is not going to go away simply because we tell our clients they should only weigh themselves once per week at best.
These obsessions and compulsions are unwanted and disruptive to daily life. OCD can be associated with eating disorders, anxiety disorders or depression, reports the National Institute of Mental Health. OCD has complex ties to eating behavior and weight loss, and may be associated with weight gain, difficulties losing weight or unhealthy weight loss. (1)
Friends, our aim is to help others in achieving a healthy body fat percentage in the most least stressful manner possible. We understand the compulsions as we have been there ourselves too. We understand what it means to ensure that you have emptied your bladder and bowels before stepping onto the bathroom scales. As with many of you, at times we have also found ourselves trying to step onto the scales as gingerly as possible in order to maybe not weigh heavier than we feel we should, and this after scooting the scale around the floor to that perfect weigh in spot. Admit it or not, we know there are a few of you reading this who are in full understanding of the last couple lines. We know the disappointment that comes when thinking weight loss for the week was a sure thing, only to have those thoughts crushed when we seen a heavier reading than from our last weigh in. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that between Brenda Sue and myself, there is nothing you can tell us that you have done that we have not also done in a lame attempt to cheat the scale. To weigh the least amount possible on weigh in day, people will do the craziest stunts to beat our brutal nemesis, the bathroom scale.
Daily Weighing is not helpful for many if not most!
How many of you step onto your bathroom scale every morning and then base the rest of your day on the numbers you read? How many times has your attitude towards life and all in between gone to hell simply because of the morning scale reading? You know this is not helpful or healthy, yet many will continue to keep up the insanity of daily weighing no matter what we advise. I can tell you how salt and other additives will increase your water retention and you will still be upset over your temporary weight gain. I can tell you that your worries need to be placed on body fat percentage over water retention weight, and yet the number on the scale will still ruin your day, even when you full well know the reason it might be higher than you expected. I do not advocate daily weighing, and believe that for some, even weekly weigh in’s are too much for those who are going to let the scale number rule their day.
Over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity. (2)
If you really must weigh daily:
Neither your body or your bathroom scales are finely tuned machines that never need adjustments. We know there are many factors that can cause our body’s to fluctuate in weight simply as a result of water retention, therefore our weight can yo yo up and down by several pounds each and every day. If our scales were known to be perfectly calibrated every time we stepped on them, we would never be scooting it around the floor, nor would we try to minimize our weight by the way we step onto it, would we? Nope, if we knew we could never manipulate that scale number we would never practice the “Scale Ballet” every time we weigh ourselves.
If you have done the “Scale Ballet”, you are not alone…
If you are going to weigh yourself regular, it is worth your time and money to actually invest in a good quality digital scale and then ensure it always has fresh batteries or a good charge. If your body weight is important to you, then it should be important enough that you buy quality scales whether digital or mechanical. Do not sell yourself short by going cheap since cheap scales are less likely to be reliable in their calibration. If your scales are only 1% off on their reading this can mean a 1.5 pound error if you weigh 150 pounds. Now, if you weigh in excess of 200 pounds, do the math and you will see that your reading could be off by 2 pounds or more. Good quality scales are a must!
Never let yourself get upset over what could be a faulty reading of your weight!
Now, lets assume you have purchased a good bathroom scale and still want to weigh yourself daily. While I do not advise you to weigh every day, I still want you to weigh yourself weekly or bi-weekly in order to keep a measure of your progress. I want you to keep track of your progress without getting down and out about it when the number is too high, nor do I want you to get too excited over your weigh in when the weight drop is too high.
Remember, your body weight can fluctuate greatly solely as a result of water retention.
- If you simply must weigh yourself every day, get yourself a pen and a note pad to keep somewhere close to your scale.
- Be consistent in weighing at the same time of the day and in the same or like clothing. Your clothing can add a couple pounds.
- If you go to the bathroom and never have anything to eat or drink before weighing, then stick to this every day. Do not eat and drink breakfast and then step onto your scales before voiding your bowels and bladder. This one should be obvious.
- Step onto your scale only once, write down your weight in your note pad and move on with your day no matter what the number said.
- At the end of the week when you take your last daily weigh in for the week, write this number down and then figure your weeks average. For example. add the weight from each day together, then divide by the number 7 for your weekly average weight. 151+154+152+150+152+153+152=1064 1064/7=152 pounds weekly average weight.
- The numbers during the week can fluctuate, it is the weekly average that you need worry about when you average them out for the entire month. A healthy weight loss is only 1 to 2 pounds maximum per week. If you average 1 to 2 pounds per week at the end of a month, you are on track for healthy weight loss. Daily numbers mean little to nothing if not used in a proper context. No matter the daily scale readings, if your first week average is 151 pounds and your second week average is 149 pounds, then your weight loss for the week is 2 pounds even if you had a minor gain during the week.
For successful weight loss/management, know yourself!
Know your goal!
You need to set a realistic goal for yourself. If you are 50 years old, you might not set a goal to once again be able to wear your cheer leading outfit from 9th grade. Not even if you get your weight close to where it was way back when. At David’s Way, we recommend not setting a goal weight, but setting a goal for body fat percentage instead. By setting a body fat percentage as a goal instead of a random scale number, it takes a lot of the stress out of weight management because your weight can fluctuate a few pounds and have no ill bearing on your overall body fat percentage. Whether you set a goal of a certain weight or body fat percentage, you need to be realistic about your body build, lifestyle and health needs.
Know your triggers!
There are certain foods and circumstances that will cause your weight to fluctuate or that will cause you to want to over eat. We always recommend that you go sugar and processed foods free, but we also understand there are times where this might be impossible for you. Brenda Sue and I have written extensively about the inflammatory effects of sugar in your body and how it affects your weight and health.
If you are out with friends in a restaurant and the wait staff asks if anyone is ready for dessert, ask for a cup of coffee and enjoy it while your friend indulges in their pie. You can still enjoy their company, and they can still enjoy yours. Make it a point to fill up on salad and vegetables with your meal and drink plenty of water to ward off the temptations of a sweet dessert treat. If you give in and have a dessert, try sharing it with your friend and let them eat the bulk of it. Then tomorrow, shrug it off and move on with your day. You might crave the sugar if you have been sugar free, but that craving will pass.
If you had restaurant food today, you can expect a weight gain tomorrow because the sodium and MSG chefs use will cause you to retain fluids. These circumstances where you have to eat out are going to happen whether you are out socially with friends, on vacation with family or on a business trip where you cannot cook for yourself. Do not freak out over the temporary weight gain and get back on track as soon as you can. It does not have to be the end of the world, and if you understand what triggers weight gain for you and what to do about these triggers, this in itself will greatly reduce the stress which comes when trying to lose weight. Stress reduction is something we have also addressed as at David’s Way, we treat the problem of obesity from a whole body, holistic approach where we know that simple loss of weight is not enough to make you successful at getting at, and then remaining at a healthy body fat percentage.
Ladies, most menstruating and premenstrual women might find their body weight rising by 3 to 5 pounds, even though their daily intake of food has not changed. (3) Do yourself a favor and do not get worked up by what nature is doing temporarily with your body. You know this is going to happen and must simply plan your lifestyle in order to deal with it instead of letting it control you. For more information read this article by Brenda Sue, Dirty Little Secret.
At David’s Way, we encourage you to track your caloric intake in order to lose weight. We do not want you to over eat, conversely, we certainly do not want you to under eat which can have a negative effect on your metabolism and health. You will find that once you have lost a certain amount of weight, you will likely plateau. Do not get frustrated, adjust your caloric intake and get your weight loss moving again. You can go to our Calorie Counter Pro to find out how many calories a day you need to manage your weight.
Now for a key point!
Once you have lost weight, you have to adjust your caloric intake as what it takes to lose weight at 250 pounds is different than what it takes to lose weight at 160 pounds. Our clients seem to always get stuck on that last 10 to 20 pounds unless we remind them of this. For instance: if you are a 40 year old, 250 pound female who stands 5 feet 2 inches, and is sedentary or exercises very little, you will need 1609 calories per day in order to lose 1 pound of body fat per week. (This is easy when you do not eat sugar or processed foods, and only consume whole foods)
Lets say you are now 41 years old, and currently weigh 160 pounds, and you still get little to no exercise. You would now require 1613 calories per day to maintain this current weight. As you can see, this number is little different than the number it took for you to drop weight. If you never changed anything, the reason you have stalled is because you never re-figured your caloric needs. Your body has different requirements for how much you weigh. As you manage your body fat levels, you must always evaluate your needs. This is true for men and women of all ages.
No matter what happens during your weight loss journey, always remain focused on your goal. There are times when this is going to be difficult for all of us. If you slip up, do not cast judgement upon yourself, understand that life happens. Bad circumstances and tragedies befall us all. Even if you slip, make it a point to not get yourself permanently derailed. Be committed to your own good health and well being and make yourself a priority. Make healthy living your lifestyle. Instead of letting others pull you back down, reach out a helping hand and give others a hand up. Continue reading our work at David’s Way, it will always be free to you. Share what you have found here with family and friends who you think will also benefit from our labor of love. Comments and questions are always welcome here.
(1) Livestrong.Org, Jon Williams
(3) Carbohydrate Addicts Lifespan Program, Heller