“Help, I have to lose 3 kg”. How often do we hear this from friends or even say it to ourselves. Most people are not aware that the goal “weight loss” leads to completely wrong assumptions and actions.
When we talk about “losing weight” we worry about the number on the scale. This number, however, is not meaningful at all in regards to your health or shape.
Weight may fluctuate for various reasons: If you drink ½ liter of water and then step on the scale, you will realize that you gained ½ kg of weight. That’s simple physics and no reason to panic! But: For many women the number on the scale will already spoil their mood for the whole day and start a vicious circle of frustration and overeating.
To avoid a bad mood coming from a number on a technical gadget it might be helpful to know more about the reasons for weight fluctuations. Subsequently I will show you a method how you can track changes in shape quite easily!
The most common reasons for weight fluctuation:
- Medication: Different medications influence our bodies’ balance and may lead to weight gain or loss due to mechanisms like water retention, change in appetite or the speed of metabolism.
- Filling of stomach & co.: Extensive meals may be the reason for weight gain on your scale, especially during festive seasons like Christmas or Ramadan.
- Alcohol: has dehydrating properties. After partying you may have less weight on the scale, but you didn’t lose any body fat.
- Hormones: Every woman knows monthly changes in the hormonal balance and the unwanted but timely weight gain on the scale. In other cases both men and women can suffer from weight gain if hormone-producing glands like thyroid or pancreas are not working properly. The inability to lose weight while eating healthy and working out should always lead to a medical check on hormones and blood sugar level!
- Salty food: Having a salty dinner can easily lead to a temporary weight gain of 1 kg, because salt promotes water retention in your body.
All the reasons mentioned above may change the number on your scale but this number is not caused by a loss or gain of body fat! (Exception: medication induced weight gain can influence body fat as well.)
Additionally, the scale is not able to differentiate between weight gains caused by excessive eating or drinking, or exercising. In other words: the scale does not know whether you gained more body fat or more muscle. Even worse: A lean athlete can be overweight on a scale (you all know the weight charts which recommend a weight in relation to your height), while a light person with little muscle mass and a high body fat percentage seems to have perfect weight.
When we talk about “weight loss” we really mean “fat loss”. We want our fat depots to shrink in order to improve shape and health. Thus, we have to target the body fat percentage of our total weight. But bear in mind: When we lose body fat, especially in combination with physical training, we can’t expect the equivalent weight loss on the scale. Increased muscle mass (due to training) may lead to a small body weight gain. Why? On one hand, the same volume of muscles is a bit heavier than body fat (about 12%) and on the other hand, fat loss does take time. For every kilogram of body fat you lose you have to burn 7.000 kcal!
Usually, you will see an improvement in shape after a couple of weeks of physical training already. Enjoy the journey and be a little bit patient, results will follow!
Let`s conclude: the scale is no reliable instrument to track improvements of shape or loss of body fat. Instead, there is another simple solution: Choose a tight pant which is not stretchy, a non-elastic belt or a measuring tape. Once a month you compare the fit of the pants, the belt or measuring tape in order to track any changes. If you use the belt or measuring tape make sure to always use the same measuring point, e.g. your waistline crossing the belly button. Selfies are a great option as well: each month, take a photo from the front, side and back wearing underwear or tight sports clothes to assess your improvement.
On your fat loss journey it is helpful to stay in a good mood. Every challenge in life is easier when you are happy. So here is an ultimate tip to increase your happiness: take your scale, hide it in your storage space and leave it there!
There is no way a technical gadget like this should have the power to dictate your mood. There are normal ups and downs with your weight which doesn’t mean you “got fat”. Use the “measuring pants”, belt or tape once or twice a month to support your perception how your body looks like. And in case a change is needed, forget about starving, 5 hour cardio sessions or guilty feelings – rather start with changing Tiny Habits.