Things to Remember When You Step on the Scale
No one enjoys getting their weight measured. You could be overly critical about yourself, have an ideal weight in mind, or be way too observant about how much weight you’ve gained in the past year down to the very day. It may just be a number, but it can be the most powerful, influential mind-f*ck that you’ve ever had to read. These three numbers are even more terrifying than gas prices, and we all know how terrible those three numbers are.
But amidst the self-ridicule and criticism you may cause yourself after stepping onto the scale, there are some things you may want to consider. While your weight MAY be a good indicator of your health status and body composition over the years, it can be influenced by a variety of factors, making it just as accurate as a bodybuilder’s BMI. So before you weigh in and freak out, check out a couple of these factors that could potentially be swaying that number higher than you predicted.
This is a large contributor to “excess” weight that can be measured on a scale. Kelly Everson of Science 2.0 states that you can actually gain about 5 pounds of straight up water weight in one day. Things that contribute to this could be your diet, the amount of sodium you take in, and even if it’s that “time of the month” (cheers to being a lady). Even heredity can play a part in how much water your body naturally retains.
Last Meal Eaten
Have you ever taken note of how much that plate of food weighs at lunch? If you weigh yourself during the middle of the day, your weight may be reading a little higher because of that lunch you had a couple hours ago. People often focus solely on food alone and not the chemical effect it can have on the body (sodium content, etc.).
Think about this: 4 ounces of chicken (.25 lb) , 132 grams of sweet potato (.29 lb) , and 100 grams of mixed vegetables (.22 lb) all together weigh about three quarters of a pound. And after that enters your mouth, remember that all that food will be sitting in your body for about 6 to 8 hours before being fully digested.
If you haven’t heard the term “muscle weighs more than fat,” start listening now. While there is not much to do about this in terms of preparation for a weigh in, being aware of this factor can help you realize how misleading a higher weight for a smaller figure can be. Muscle takes up much less room than fat does, yet it is incredibly more dense. A higher density means more weight. If you’re someone that lifts and maintains a very active lifestyle, you’ll probably have a little more “weight” on you than you’re average person. This is where you have to start taking body fat into consideration.
American College of Sports Medicine guidelines state that a “healthy” body fat percentage for men is between 10 and 22%, while women is between 20 and 32%. That means that technically, if you are within these values, you’re good to go, even if you’re weight is a little higher than a “Body Mass Index” recommendation (which doesn’t take lean mass into consideration).
Some Helpful Reminders
Even though weighing yourself may seem annoying and depressing, keeping track of your weight over time may not be entirely bad. WebMD cited a study conducted by UNC Chapel Hill and Brown University indicating that 61% of people who kept track of their weight over time were more successful at maintaining their weight within 5 pounds.
Instead of avoiding the scale all together, consider these tips: weigh yourself in the morning before breakfast and after the bathroom, at the same time every day, and with minimal clothing on. Accuracy and consistency can play a big part in keeping track of your weight. But, as always, try to avoid becoming obsessive with the numbers. So many things can affect what you see on the scale, and those three numbers do not define you as a person, your fitness level, or your self worth.