As reliable as the scale can be for telling you exactly what you weigh on a given day, it’s never going to tell the whole truth about what’s happening in your body.
Let’s assume you’ve reached the point where the scale is no longer your friend and there’s nothing more you’d like to do than smash it to bits and pieces. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some other things you may want to look into that could help get that scale number back in your good graces.
How Are You Sleeping?
Sleep is one of the most overlooked factors in successful weight loss. It affects your ability to recover from your previous day’s activities, regulates the function of your hormones and can affect your hunger the following day. Start keeping track of how many restful hours of sleep you average per night. Many wrist trackers can offer this insight but be mindful of the fact that spending too much brain power on better sleep can give you some anxiety (resulting in poor sleep.) Stick with the low-hanging fruit: limit caffeine after noon, reduce alcohol intake, turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, keep the room relatively cool, and aim for as dark of an environment as possible.
Start watching your sodium intake. Many of my clients don’t add extra salt to their dishes but if you’re someone who frequents restaurants, you can easily surpass your daily recommended sodium intake in one meal alone. While you don’t necessarily have to go “no salt” in your diet (unless directed by a physician), your body may retain sodium more so than others. When you compound sodium retention with a lack of water intake, the scale probably won’t be happy with you. And while we’re on the subject of water…
Ain’t Ya Thirsty?
Water, water, and water. Yes, you probably should grab another swig while you’re reading this (go ahead, I’ll wait.) While there is some dispute about how much you should have on a given day, I’ll offer a guideline of 80-100 oz per day. I would even suggest you do this in addition to any other fluids you might be taking in. So, even though coffee, tea and your favorite sparkling water all count (sort of), I want you to aim for 80-100 oz of the good ol’, plain jane, boring as hell water. I’m not going to go down a rabbit hole of all the alleged wonders of water intake but I will tell you that it can help you with the sodium issue referenced above and help with the removal of waste from your digestive system. I have clients who can swing as wildly as 10-12 pounds on a given week when they’ve had a weekend full of events and little to no water. Once they spend the following week getting food and water intake back on track, the weight plummets down again. Think about that for a moment. Would you be happy with upwards of a 10 pound swing in scale weight over a week? (Results not typical.)
Don’t Forget The Poo-Pourri
While I’m on the thought of digestive systems, how’s your fiber intake? With ladies needing 20-25g per day and fellas needing 35-40g per day, where is your current intake? Start looking at your daily sources of fiber to continue removing waste from your system. I would suggest sticking with whole food sources before you attempt to get what you need from supplements or Quest Bars. If a doctor has recommended a fiber supplement for you, follow their advice but you may start seeing better results when you’re more consistent with bowel movements.
To Carb Or Not To Carb?
If you’ve been lacking in consistency with carbohydrate intake, remember some rules of thumb. If you’re a less active individual on average, your body will likely do better with lower carbs. If you’re more active, you can have more. When I mention this, people like to fall to extremes. Try not to do this. Lower carb could simply mean a shift down from 150g of carbs per day to 100g. Higher carb could be 150g to 200g. This is different for different people. You won’t know where you are unless you’re tracking but keep in mind that carbs hold water so a shift in either direction can affect what the scale might read. This is why folks who shift from their typical diet to a low carb or keto diet see a plummet in weight (initially.) Once the body regulates to overall caloric intake, the honeymoon is over.
Tame The Weekend Warrior
I see so many people eat within their respective goals Monday through Thursday. And then the proverbial gates of Hell open up over the weekend and the willpower goes right out the window. Try to minimize your caloric luxuries over the weekend by cutting back (not necessarily eliminating) the social events. All too often (especially with women), I see clients who not only lose the ground they had from the previous week’s efforts but can have a weekend so off the grid, that it takes them at least a week to recover and get back to a previous low. You’re aiming for consistency, not perfection but cooling the madness of the weekend warrior can help.
Use The Same Scale In The Same Place Under The Same Circumstances
Not every scale is calibrated the same way. Here at my studio, I have an exact place that I set the scale. Shifting it slightly to other areas can make the difference in ounces or pounds depending on how even/uneven the floor is. Make sure your scale is in the same place every day and keep some consistency with the time and environment in which you weigh. For instance. weigh yourself when you wake in the morning, after urinating and get in your birthday suit (if you aren’t already.) Use that as your given baseline for weight. Yes, you could theoretically be lighter at another point in the day but you could also be heavier. You’re looking for an average over time.
Accept The Fluctuations
One thing I like about tracking your weight via an app is that many of them will offer a graph so you can see the spikes and the dips. This visual can be very helpful so it’s not just about a number. I used to offer the wiggle room of a four pound swing on any given day. In other words, depending on many of the variables mentioned above, your weight could swing as wildly as four pounds at any point in the day and that’s normal. Over time, I’ve found some people can swing even more than that. If we only use the four pound swing, that means you could hit a new low of say 162 in the morning and be at 166 in the afternoon and it be completely normal. This does NOT mean that you magically consumed nearly 14,000 calories of actual food. Do not let the scale trick you!
Grab Your Measuring Tape
There are three tape measures we use to check progress here. We measure in centimeters and those three areas are: one inch above the bellybutton (around the body), at the bellybutton (around the body) and at the mid-glute (around the body.) If the scale is being an asshole, try tracking these measurements for a while and see if your numbers are changing.
How’s That Food Tracking Going?
When I mention food tracking, some people bristle up. It’s boring, it’s too time-consuming, etc. But here’s the thing: when you do it right, it works really well and, like so many things, it’s a skill. Work on improving it. It’s not fool-proof but it can be damn helpful. It’s also not something you have to do indefinitely. But for a few days, track/measure every morsel that goes in your mouth up to and including the cream in your coffee, salad dressing, nut butters, those six pistachios you just ate, the nibble of grilled cheese off your kid’s plate, and even that eyeballed glass of wine. Track every single bit of it. If that doesn’t open your eyes, please go see your optometrist (I’m only sort of kidding.)
Sometimes, you really are doing the right things with your diet and your training. You’re not dieting aggressively and you’re not beating your body to shreds in the gym or on the treadmill. What you need is to just be patient that you’re body isn’t fighting to hold onto the weight. The body will do all it can to achieve homeostasis and cling to the weight as a survival mechanism. This doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Just go back through this checklist and make sure that some of these factors are still in place.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you, that if you’ve allowed some of this list to get off track, you probably don’t want to tackle all of these things at once. It’s too much change to take on at one time. Focus on one area and see if that gets the scale moving in the right direction again. If not, try the next thing that could be in the way.
Lastly, in the grand scope of your life right now, maybe weight loss isn’t your best path to follow. In that case, take a week or two to eat at maintenance, gain some clarity on where things may be too stressful right now and schedule a time to start back again.
Below is a shot of some of our resident wild things. This was taken after one of our Saturday circuit sessions. I’d like to introduce you (left to right) to: Bill, Jean, Kelvin (in front of Jean), Brandon, Pete and Shon. We love them. And, because they’re real people just like you, the scale is sometimes an asshole to them too…
“We Make Great People Greater”