5 reasons why the scale isn't moving
Have you ever stopped to think about what "weight loss" really means? Here's Dr. Beatrice to explain (meet Beatrice HERE) :
Let's define what "weight" is.
WEIGHT: "a body's relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it, giving rise to a downward force; the heaviness of a person or thing."
Because we are human and base a lot of our decisions on emotions, we freak when we see that number on the scale. We tell ourselves we need to work harder. We feel a little (or a lot) sad.
But not to worry, we can ease a lot of this unnecessary stress if we just take a moment to really think about what the scale measures : total weight.
If weight is defined as "the quantity of matter contained" by the human body, then a scale measures all of the following together:
Food in our bellies
Adipose tissue (fat - which is NOT the devil contrary to popular belief)
All of these things together make up our weight. Since the amount of water, waste, and food content in our bodies changes throughout each day, it becomes pretty difficult to use a scale to monitor progress if you're measuring your weight once a week (which many use a standard).
Granted that weight can fluctuate so much, I don't really understand when, where, or why the once a week weigh-in came became so popular. Your weight will always fluctuate within a certain range on a traditional scale, but if you truly are losing fat, what you should start to see is the range trending downward.
For example, let's say you weigh yourself every day for 7 days and you find that the numbers ranged from 174.5-169.2. You start cleaning up your diet and moving around a little bit more. A month later, you repeat the same 7 day weigh in procedure and find that you have a new range of 172.5-167.2. If you had only weighed yourself at the beginning on the day that you weighed 169.2, and then a month later on the day of that week that you weighed 172.5, you probably would've freaked and thought that you'd actually gained fat and not lost fat through diet and exercise. In reality, if you compare those two sets of ranges, we can assess a net weight loss of 2 pounds of fat in this scenario (previous low of 169.2 compared to new low of 167.2) - which is great progress!
Let's go over some potential reasons why you could be "stuck" on the scale (other than the common culprit of simply eating more calories than you think you're expending):
1) If you're a female : HORMONES. It is completely normal for the weight of a woman to fluctuate between 5-10 pounds at various points during the follicular (days 1-14) and luteal (days 15-28) phases of the menstrual cycle.
2) Carbohydrates: Per every 1 gram of carbohydrate you consume, 3 grams of water are retained in the body. This is why you or your friend lost an impressive amount of weight on the scale in the first week of a ketogenic diet. Removal of carbohydrates = removal of more water from the body = lower weight, but not lower fat mass. Carbohydrates are not evil. They're fabulous.
3) You're growing muscles: When you gain muscle, you have more capacity to store glycogen (carbohydrates for simplicity sake here) in your muscles. More glycogen storage also leads to increased water retention. This is why it's possible to see visible changes in the shape of your body without seeing visible changes on the scale.
4) You've started a new exercise routine: With new workouts, there's a good chance that you're going to experience some degree of muscle damage and subsequent soreness for a bit as your body attempts to adapt to a new physical insult. See, burpees ARE disrespectful. Soreness is an inflammatory response to try and heal damaged muscle tissue. Yep, that comes with some degree of swelling, which will subside after a while. But know that it's normal. Your workouts won't make you turn into Godzilla. If you feel like you're not feeling changes in the way your clothes fit in response to a new exercise and diet routine, check yourself and make sure you aren't eating in excess in response to rigorous exercise. Remember, exercise is a form of stress (and so is the removal of calories - yes, even excess calories that you don't need anyway), so it's natural for the body to respond by wanting to stock pile more energy in the form of food - your brain thinks you're in a potentially dangerous situation (even though you know you'll be fine). Your body is hardwired for survival. It doesn't necessarily understand the difference between a long intense run and being stranded in the desert, so keep that in mind when it comes to balancing weight loss with stress, whether it comes from exercise or chasing your children around in Target.
5) You're weighing in only once per week: As long as the scale isn't a terrible trigger for you due to past events/issues, try the experiment from the scenario above and find out what your normal fluctuation is throughout the week - and even daily. It's a really eye opening experience and can also be freeing so that you don't panic over a single data point. The more data you can gather about yourself, the better! You'll learn things about your body that you didn't know before, and you can use your data points to calculate a weekly average weight versus using only a single data point in order to set your baseline. I weighed myself multiple times in one day to see what my normal fluctuations were and I registered a 3 pound difference in my weight in the morning post exercise in comparison to the evening post dinner. Pretty cool stuff.
So what's the take home? If you weigh yourself using a traditional scale, know the limitations in terms of information it can tell you and remember to use the most helpful tool in measuring progress: your eyes. Take photos. Try on clothes. You may see and feel progress in your body before it will register on a scale, so trust yourself here!
Oh also, remember that we're all human. There's nothing wrong with you. We've all been there and know what it feels like to let our weight dictate our mood, even though we know deep down that it shouldn't matter. Significant fat loss is not a quick process; it takes months and years. Let me repeat, months and years. NOT 30 DAYS. Some days will be harder than others, you'll make mistakes and progress will feel as slow as molasses, and sometimes you'll even feel like it's not working. But keep going. Stay consistent. Trust the process. And if you need a pick me up along the way, you know who to call.
It's not Ghostbusters.
Peace out, friend!