Have you ever hopped on the scale and felt a pang of panic, seeing a number much higher than you were expecting? I know what you’re thinking, even yesterday that number was lower, how did I gain five pounds in a day? Easy, you didn’t.
According to the scale, you’re up five pounds. Technically that number is true, accurately depicting how much your body weighs at that particular time. First things first: you did NOT gain five pounds of fat in a day. One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so, unless you ate 17,500 calories over your maintenance amount yesterday, those five pounds are not fat. However, there are so many reasons why the number you see is an inaccurate representation of your body. If those five pounds aren’t fat, what are they?
Think back to yesterday, what did you eat? Chances are you ate something out of the ordinary for your routine, including foods high in sodium or sugar. Both sodium and sugar are inflammatories, meaning they cause inflammation and water retention in the body. Alcohol is also highly inflammatory, and is usually worsened by being mixed with high sugar juices and sodas. When you consume inflammatory foods, your body responds by holding water in your tissues. The same process occurs when you do not consume enough water, your body holds water in tissues to keep as much water in your system as it can. This water retention can cause you to feel bloated and puffy, and it can cause a jump on the scale. If you’re a lady, I know you know this struggle. Your monthly dues cause tons of water retention in your body (along with all the other fun symptoms were used to), leading to that common symptom of bloating. Luckily, no matter the cause, this water retention should decrease when you consume extra water. Once your body gets the water it craves, the water being held in the tissues is released, bringing your body back to it’s normal levels.
Maybe you ate normally yesterday, but think back to what time you weighed yourself yesterday? Did you weigh yourself yesterday right when you wake up, but today after breakfast? If that is the case, of course you’re going to weigh more today. Yesterday, you had nothing in your system, with that being your true weight. Today, you have breakfast in you, starting to digest and fuel your body for the day. This food in your body will cause an increase in weight, even if you ate something “light.” It is completely normal for your weight to fluctuate by 3-5lbs throughout the day, no matter what you’ve eaten.
No matter what the circumstances, just breathe. You did not gain five pounds of fat in one single day. Stress can also cause water retention and (temporary) weight gain, so do not stress over this weight. Be sure to drink more water than usual, and weigh yourself right when you wake up the next day. Your weight should be back to normal. If your weight is gradually increasing, no matter the time of day or what you ate, and you don’t want it to, then you may need to adjust the amount that you are eating in a day, or your activity level. As well, I choose to weigh myself and my clients once a month. If you’d like to weigh yourself daily, be sure to do it at the same time every day. I recommend right when you wake up, as this is the most accurate representation of your body.
The scale is a good way to track progress, but it can also be a huge cause of stress. If the scale is doing you more harm than good, then I suggest you get rid of it. If a number is tripping you up that much, I recommend finding other ways to track progress. Keep track of the weights you’ve used to complete exercises, or use clothing or photos as markers of progress. The scale is not the only way to determine progress, and it definitely shouldn’t be the source of your happiness.