The scale. (cue disappointing music...) I thought it was time to address this tool of measurement once again, because apparently, too many of us out there can literally have an instant mood change depending on what that number says.
Let's be really clear. The scale is a measurement of your relation to gravity on any given day. It does NOT measure your self worth, successes, or failures. It shouldn't be a mood regulator. Do you need to re-read that? Why are you letting that ever changing number be a total mind f@#k?!! It is one type of measurement and one tool in the toolbox to use to evaluate your health and nutrition goals.
Many factors can affect that weight on the scale on any given day. I've seen people fluctuate as much as 3-5lbs in a day! So what are some factors that could be affecting that number?
High sodium consumption. Excess sodium consumption causes fluid retention and bloating that temporarily increases body weight. Did you go to town on the chips and snacks? If you are tracking your food, you can look back and see what various foods could have been the culprit for you.
Digestion/gut health. Let's talk poo. ha! Do you have regular bowel movements? What is your fiber intake? If things aren't moving through you regularly, you could be bloated and be weighing yourself down, LIT-ER-ALLY.
DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness). You know when you've had an intense work out, or it's been awhile since you've been training, and you are sore AF??? Like having to brace yourself to sit on the toilet sore?? ha, ha, ha! (where are those handrails?)
DOMS occurs when there are microscopic tears in the muscle + lactic acid. Water retention occurs because the body is replenishing glycogen stores in the muscles in order to repair itself.
Females-hormonal changes throughout cycle. Ladies, you should know your bodies. Depending on your cycle, you may notice bloating/weight gain at certain times of that cycle. I typically gain 1-2 pounds every month during this time.
Hydration levels. This one is BIG! Are you getting the recommended daily fluid intake for your activity level? Half your bodyweight in ounces. If training, half your bodyweight + 15 oz.
If you're dehydrated, you aren't able to flush everything through the body. You can be bloated, backed up, and that can be reflected on the scale.
The scale can be a useful tool to be aware of trends and correlate events that could affect that number on that particular day. It can also be a very motivating tool and eye opening for some, so don't toss it just yet.
There are several other ways of measurement to evaluate if your nutrition plan is working and helping you towards your health goals.
1. How are your clothes fitting? Looser? More snug? Maybe they didn't shrink in the dryer :). Do you take measurements? How about progress pictures? That bathroom selfie doesn't have to be vain. Use it as a tool to measure progress.
2. Energy levels. Do you feel like you have more energy than normal? Not dragging or NEEDING that afternoon caffeine fix? How's your mood? When you're getting quality, balanced nutrition for you, in addition to the appropriate vitamins and minerals, your energy levels can sky rocket.
3. Sleep. How's your sleep quality? Are you feeling well rested? Getting enough hours at night? Waking up ready to attack the day? Sleep is critical for proper recovery- mind, body, and soul. Let's icksnay the late-night binge TV watching. (GUILTY here!!!)
4. Performance in training. Are you feeling stronger? More endurance? Not as sore? It's amazing how we measure if a workout was hard enough, depending on how sore we are. When you have positive nutrition habits in place, you should experience better recovery. Many times you will feel like you can do more work in training because you have recovered so quickly. Can we say GAINZ?!!
Let's try to shift the mindset on the use of the scale. It is one form of measurement, and surely not the most comprehensive unit to use. Let's look at the whole picture, evaluate your individual goals, and utilize appropriate and healthy forms of progress measurement.