It’s easy to step on the scale and either feel satisfied or discouraged. There can be a lot of anxiety or frustration tied up with numbers because of an overwhelming fixation on weight influenced by society. Releasing yourself from this fixation doesn’t mean smashing your scale with a sledgehammer. Instead, try a shift in perspective: Weight isn’t always the most accurate measure of progress. There are other methods that better account for true changes in body composition and fat loss.
WHY WEIGHT FLUCTUATES
Daily weight is a product of many factors. At any given moment, it’s influenced by stress, sleep, and activity levels. It changes depending on salt, the timing of meals, and hormonal changes due to menstrual cycles. Hydration, digestion, and the timing of workouts can also cause the scale to move.
These fluctuations are just a normal part of being human. We eat, we sweat, we have bowel movements. Our bodies are constantly changing, and those changes are reflected on the scale. While we can’t change natural fluctuations, we can change to how we approach the scale in order to get the most accurate measurements and not let the number we see each morning dictate the success of our day.
Stepping on the scale in similar conditions each day can help mitigate some change. Ideally, this means weighing first thing in the morning after using the restroom and before eating or drinking anything. Weight may still fluctuate, but consistent conditions can help us gain a more accurate understanding of the general trend in our weight.
Weighing ourselves daily (not sporadically) gives us a better understanding of our average weight across the week. Weight loss rarely looks linear, so weekly averages may shift down while the daily number might not look much different.
USING ADDITIONAL MEASURES OF PROGRESS
Paying attention to measurements, photos, and how clothes feel give even better insight into progress than the scale. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of weight loss when we should be focusing on fat loss. Loss of inches, changes in body composition in photos, and looser fitting clothes are often better indicators of fat loss.
DITCHING THE SCALE COMPLETELY
If an abnormal number on the scale causes guilt, frustration, or anxiety, the answer is simple: Ditch the scale. Focus on other measures of progress and don’t let the number determine whether it’s a good or bad day. In the end, it’s just a silly number that represents your relationship with gravity.
Kate Lyman, MPH, CHES is a Memphis-based nutrition coach who believes in ditching restrictive diet rules and building flexible eating habits so that you can eat the foods you enjoy while still working towards your goals. She provides personalized online nutrition coaching and creates resources that can help anyone improve their diet. Find her cookbooks, nutrition guides, and other resources at katelymannutrition.com or on follow along at @klnutrition.