Why the scale is important, but also doesn’t matter
When working with nutrition clients, one of the metrics that we like to track daily is weight.
The main reason for this is that we want to see the general trend of their weight to ensure that their average weight is headed the correct direction and toward their goal.
Daily weight tracking also helps highlight good and bad decisions made throughout the day before in terms of food quality, water intake, and exercise.
(We also track our client’s chest, waist, and hip measurements and have them take progress photos weekly and my personal opinion is that these are better metrics because we all want to look a certain way for ourselves and others, but we only step on the scale in private, so the number shouldn’t REALLY matter.)
Unfortunately, one of the most common things we have to do is tell our clients to STOP tracking their weight.
And, in my opinion, this often stems from our inability as a population to stick with a plan that doesn’t deliver instant results, even if our expectations are completely unreasonable.
We’ve all seen thousands of print ads and hundreds of hours of informercials touting ridiculously fast weight loss if you take this pill, drink this drink, follow this crazy cucumber and lemon only diet, or use this weird crunch contraption to get a six-pack in 30 days.
I hate to break it to you, but IT’S ALL BULLSHIT!
NONE OF IT IS SUSTAINABLE OR HEALTHY.
The only true path to success is consistency over long periods of time.
But all of that BS and non-sense has reshaped the way we think and our expectations.
And when we don’t see the scale (again, only one of our three check-in metrics) moving the right direction daily, we often see our clients get discouraged and immediately begin to self-sabotage or start losing trust in the coach or the process.
Well, a few weeks ago I stepped on the scale a couple of days after returning from vacation to a bit of a surprise.
While we were there I did zero tracking of my food or alcohol consumption, I just enjoyed my time.
I did a few workouts, but nothing crazy.
I also did some walking and playing on the beach and in the ocean, so I wasn’t just sitting around for a week straight.
But the weight the scale read upon my return home didn’t appear to reflect that I did anything but eat and drink…
When I left for vacation I was weighing 183 lbs pretty consistently.
Some days up to 185 and other days down to 181 or 182.
When we returned from Hawaii on July 3rd and then I enjoyed July 4th weekend I stepped on the scale on Monday, July 8th and I weighed 191.6 lbs.
From before we left for Hawaii until 11 days later I gained 9 lbs.
When I looked in the mirror I didn’t think I looked like I weighed 9 extra lbs, but I stepped on the scale again and it read the same thing.
At this moment, I didn’t freak out and immediately give up and overeat.
I also didn’t immediately decide to starve myself to get right back to where I was comfortable.
Because I knew that it was impossible to actually gain that much fat in a week and that everything would be just fine if I just got right back to eating consistently.
After years of retraining my brain to think more logically about weight and body composition, I didn’t have a knee jerk reaction and I’m hoping by telling this story, I can help some of you turn the same corner on how you think about the weight the scale reads.
At that moment I made the decision to do five things that day:
1. eat a “perfect day”, meaning to hit my macros exactly
2. to drink a sufficient amount of water
3. to ride the Peloton while my daughter was sleeping (just a 30 minute ride, nothing crazy)
4. to take a nap that day
5. to get a good nights sleep that night to catch up a little.
After executing on this plan I knew that I would be headed the right direction and I’d be more likely to do the same the next day and I’d be back to pre-vacation form in no time.
And guess what happened.
I woke up the next morning, and I weighed…
I lost 5.4 lbs in 24 hours.
with NO magic pills
NO special drinks
NO weird food combinations
NOT starving myself
and, NO extra exercise
Now, at that weight, I was still a couple lbs above where I was when I left, but I probably earned that weight.
I enjoyed myself.
I ate food that I wouldn’t normally eat
I had alcoholic beverages daily, which I do not do while at home.
But in the long run, none of it will matter because consistently eating a healthy quantity of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to support my body and activity level and staying properly hydrated will outweigh a week of less than optimal decisions.
The moral of the story here is that weight loss or gain or maintenance is NOT linear.
And, the scale is only one metric that we track and it might be the least dependable.
So, we all need to stop letting it control our thoughts and influence our decisions, but just take it for what it is, a number…
If you want more information about counting your macros or flexible dieting or are interested in nutrition coaching, shoot us an email at email@example.com or check us out on instagram at @CrogaNutrition.
We’re more than happy to schedule a free 15-minute phone call or in person meeting to chat about your goals and to see if our coaching style might be a good fit for you.