When I was in my teens, I often thought that scales all had an inherent issue: they could actually not weigh people properly.
I would hear my mom say she’d gained a couple of pounds or sometimes up to 6 pounds, but I would see no difference when I looked at her (she was the same thin woman). No difference at all.
I thought the engineers who built the scales weren’t able to make them work.
Much later I studied biochemistry and I discovered why the scale seemed to always be lying (Note: the engineers are not guilty!).
And here is why.
1) Women’s hormone levels vary during one same month. When estrogen are out of balance, for example, they promote water retention.
When you retain water, your scale tells you you’ve gained weight. No matter your diet.
If you get on the scale in the morning and weigh 130 lb., you may as well weigh 137 lb. in the evening.
Before you start blaming either yourself, the box of cookies or your lack of willpower, tell yourself this: it’s NOT physically possible to gain 7 lb. of fat (let alone muscle) in a day. That can only be water.
“Anne, great, but what causes water retention? I still feel incredibly fat when the scale tells me I’ve gained 7 lb. in a day.”
What causes water retention?
Essentially, this can happen because of:
- Poor lymph flow (to know more about the lymph and how a cleanse done the right way can solve the issue, watch this class, I explain what the lymph is and does in more details)
- Mineral deficiencies (such as magnesium, etc.)
- Poor thyroid function
- Too many stress hormones
- Not enough progesterone and/or too much estrogen
Note: the topic of estrogen is complex and can cause many other issues, but I’ll save that for another day.
2) Before the menstrual cycle, we can have more cravings. And the consequence is often that we simply eat more. And we do gain some weight.
This is why I tell my clients to not weigh themselves before their period, and then compare the weight with the numbers during the rest of the month.
3) Our gut. I’m sure you know we have trillions of bacteria in our gut (that’s the intestinal flora or microbiome you’ve heard about).
Now, you may be surprised to learn that an adult has between 6.5 lb. and 9 lb. (that’s 3 to 4.5 kilos!) bacteria living in their colon. These are essential for life, but as you can see, their weight does vary. That’s why you could weigh 150 lb. one week and 153 lb. the week after.
When you combine all these effects, you realize how crazy it is to weigh yourself.
I actually never weigh myself; if I retain water or I gain some fat, my clothes will tell me early enough. Then, I know what to do.
When you want to lose weight, it can be disheartening. You may be eating great healthy food and watching portions, but the scale can still be yoyoing, driving you mad. You have all my empathy.
One of the members of this community sent me an email about watching her bank balance and I found it was a great analogy. The scale is NOT something to watch closely like you would do with your bank balance.
My message for you is to put the scale away, especially if you’re trying to lose weight and it upsets you (if the scale is your friend and it motivates you, go ahead and use it, though).
Weighing yourself is often nothing more than weighing your self-esteem.
PS: this is blog post #2 of this nutrition and weight loss series. If you missed the first one about coffee, you can find it here.