The Scale. Friend? Or Enemy?
Look, we get it. There's no better feeling than getting on the scale and seeing a change in the "right" direction.
Likewise, there's a bit of a crushing blow when we hop on to it and don't see the change we were expecting. So it's not surprising that many people will tell you to "Get off the scale!".
Frankly? That's some messed up advice if you actually want to lose weight.
Accountability? Self Monitoring?
We've said this before and we'll say it again. YOU are the one responsible for your journey. So while cheerleaders and family supporting you, support groups and the best of the best Dr's to help you are awesome absolutely none of them will come to YOU to slap the food out of your hands. No one will wake you up and put your gym clothes on in the morning on so you can work out. None of them will help you drink the water, eat the protein or stick with the plan. Change starts and ends, with YOU.
You have got to develop some ways to stay accountable to yourself so that you stay focused so you can make the choices you need to make on a daily basis if you actually want to do more than just losing the weight. Anyone can lose weight. You had weight loss surgery so you could lose the weight and keep it OFF for life, that's the real goal.
The best way to be accountable to yourself while losing weight? Face facts on a daily basis and get on that scale. And the more often you weigh yourself, the more you are monitoring your own behaviors. Watching your progress and better understanding of what you are doing throughout your weight loss journey so you don't have to try to lose weight again.
It's been proven to help weight loss in the long run.
There was a study presented to the American Heart Association that followed over 1000 people over the course of a year through their weight loss journey and it found that the people who weighed once a week or less didn't achieve any weight loss. None. The people who DID weigh daily saw actual change on the scale and lost weight.
We see this in our Facebook Support Group for Bariatric Regain too. The most successful members are the ones who weigh daily and track their weight over time. Even once they are at goal. And likewise, we see a lot of people truly upset & concerned that they've gained, but don't seem to know why. Almost like it's a surprise they aren't on track with their goals. Weighing yourself is more than just a marker of success. It's an indicator of your progress in learning the new lifestyle you're trying so hard to adopt.
Don't Get Crazy
So here's the thing... you have to be a bit smarter about this than many of you are.
It takes 3500 calories to GAIN a pound. So unless you REALLY went off the rails, you didn't gain weight overnight. You would have been likely doubled over in pain from overeating if you had eaten enough to gain a pound in 24 hours.
Here are some facts about what can actually cause overnight weight gain that's NOT Fat:
- Salt, now don't RUN away from Sodium now. Too many folks have an unfounded fear of sodium, that is a mineral your body NEEDS in the right amount to maintain normal functions. BUT if you had something like Polish Sausage and Peppers instead of your typical Baked Salmon or Chicken and Vegetables, you ate more sodium than normal and your body responded in the way it is SUPPOSED to respond. Hurray! Your metabolism and digestive system work! To combat this, have some extra water and head to the gym to move some of that fluid around in your body and get it out.
- Water. Maybe you didn't actually drink as much as you need. Maybe you had too much Iced Tea and didn't realize it. No biggie, have a glass, move on.
- Hormones. Yup, even for guys there are fluctuations in your body's natural hormones will cause a bit of fluctuation in your weight. It's natural and perfectly healthy!
- The weather. Yup, heat and cold can impact your body too.
- Travel. Did you fly? Sit in a car for a few hours? Both can cause fluid retention, and again. That's not BAD. It's natural and how your body is supposed to work.
- Activity Level. Maybe you did more yesterday and your body is trying to recover, maybe you did less. Did you have a day of conference room meetings where you barely walked to the breakroom? No big deal, it's one of those things that happens. You aren't a machine and won't be the same every day.
Now with that, I want to remind you of a few things:
- Muscle doesn't weigh more than fat. It just doesn't. In fact, NOTHING weighs more than anything else. A pound will always weigh a pound but some things do take up more SPACE than other things. We are talking about Volume and Mass. Weight is Mass. So please put that myth to bed. It takes a TON of repeat workouts with actual weight lifting that involves progressive overload to put ON muscle. And no... Fat doesn't magically turn into muscle either. If you worked out yesterday and woke up heavier you didn't gain muscle mass overnight. It's fluid because your body is taking care of its natural recovery process and healing itself. Keep exercising, you'll see the scale move AND stop the fluctuations over some time as your body gets used to it.
- Don't obsess. This is a tool you're using to mark your progress. It CAN point out what you've been doing wrong, so be honest with yourself when you step on the scale and see what you didn't want to see. Were you HONESTLY doing your best? Then keep it up. If you maybe made some choices that don't line up with your plan own them and move on. In both scenarios, you didn't do anything wrong, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that over the course of your weight loss journey it's literally impossible to do the exact same thing every single day. It won't happen. Some days will be fantastic. Some won't. Your worth isn't tied to the number on the scale or your ability to stick to your weight loss plan. But if you are finding it emotionally distressing, consider that you need to get some help from a counselor or possibly a Dr. Because sticking your head in the sand about how much you weigh is part of how you ended up in your WLS Dr's office in the first place.
- Don't go off the rails with exercise to combat the scale going up. Just like it takes 3500 calories to gain a pound of fat you have to have a deficit of 3500 calories to LOSE a pound of fat. To work that off in one day you'd have to run 2 marathons. No thanks. This is why knowledge is power, knowing what it takes to gain and lose weight is just as important for you as knowing what you weigh so you stay on plan.
Learning is a key part of the journey.
It's more than just learning how to eat, learning how our bodies work, and respond to various foods. How it responds to exercise or travel. What happens in the summer when it's oppressively hot out or super humid.
All of this knowledge adds up to YOU not being stressed by the scale when you step onto it. It's a better understanding of YOU and how your body will respond to the RIGHT diet and exercise as you move down the path from surgery and closer to goal. Plus it will help you maintain once you get to goal.
Tips on HOW to Weigh & Track Your Progress.
- Weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you've had any food or drink.
- Wear as little clothing as possible.
- Write your weight down and move on with your day.
- At the end of 7 days, add up your weights for the week. Divide by 7 to get your average. If it's higher than the week before, it's time to evaluate your diet and exercise. If it's lower, change nothing and move on to another week. IF it's the same, that means you're on the right track and move on and see how next week goes before making changes.
After weight loss surgery there are so many indicators of success, but the scale is a big one that if used correctly will help you ensure that THIS is the last diet you have to do. Remember that you're doing this to change your life, and that takes time. It took time to gain the weight and you'll need time to get that weight off if you stick with it and stay focused you'll get there and stay there.