Seduced By The Scale

How’s your relationship with your weight scale?

Do you hop on daily (sometimes several times a day) to check and see the fluctuations that can happen during your waking hours or do you hide it, taking days and even weeks away before stepping on to see what the “verdict” is?

I have clients that do both and everything in between.

Myself? I weigh once or twice a week. Sometimes more if I’m doing something crafty with my diet but that doesn’t happen too often.

Depending on which coach you follow (and there are many great ones out there), some will say to weigh yourself daily if you’re trying to lose fat.

Some lean towards once a week, others opt for every other week.

I’ve even seen some coaches encourage their clients to throw the scale out and focus on how the body feels, how clothes fit, and maybe some tape measurements since they can unveil composition changes that the scale might not pick up on.

I say, weigh as often as you can psychologically handle that allows you to make progress but still correct your course if things aren’t heading the direction you want.

A little over a year ago, I highlighted the game my father played when I helped him lose weight. I always loved his philosophy for daily weigh-ins. You can read about that HERE.

Beyond your frequency of weighing, there’s another area to consider and that’s the lengths you’ll go to get the scale number to drop.

For those who are new to my writing, I’m not a fan of aggressive diet deficits. I think they can be helpful for certain individuals but in many cases, I’d prefer a doctor is involved especially if the caloric intake is extremely low just to make sure nothing funny is happening with the thyroid, the hormones, or just general recovery.

However, I do find that some clients get seduced by the number. There’s something about instant gratification that gets people doing all sorts of wacky things with their diets just to keep that number scaling down.

-Drastically reducing/eliminating carbohydrates (including fruits and vegetables)

-Drastically reducing/eliminating sodium

-Drinking at least a gallon of water a day

-Drastically increasing fiber/taking laxatives

-Embarking on 24+ hour fasting protocols

Now, before I get the wrath of those who utilize any of these tactics, I’d say they can all be used effectively depending on the individual. Also, if a lower number on the scale is all that matters and you don’t care whether you’re losing fat or muscle, then maybe more extreme measures are your cup of tea.

I like a more methodical approach to dieting because I find that people learn more about themselves, their habits/routines, and gain better insight into how they want to live their lives after they reach their desired weight.

The other problem I encounter, is that many people who diet with no regard for macronutrient breakdowns or a strategic strength training plan, end up losing more muscle mass than they ever bargained for.

This isn’t just about aesthetics either. The less muscle you have, comparatively speaking, the less metabolically active you’ll be when you reach your desired weight and that will have an effect on your maintenance calories.

You’ll also find a decrease in NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) levels which can contribute to less movement throughout the day. I wrote more about that HERE.

In addition, you may find your recovery from your workouts to be compromised, as well as sleep, libido and your levels of strength (assuming you’re strength training).

I have to remind the “seduced” that the body will do all it can to find homeostasis and temporarily halt fat loss. This tends to happen even more when dieters take their given deficit and drive it more aggressively down.

It’s times like this when you may want to ask yourself: what’s the most important thing, a healthier body or a smaller body? Yes, you can have both if you’re patient and consistent.

So, this is a kind plea: treat your body better. If the scale has taken over in your weight loss plan, ask yourself how you can eat in a healthier way as opposed to being simply a smaller version of you.

In light of the current Corona virus pandemic, sticking with a more modest deficit could make a big difference with your immune system. A more aggressive diet creates a more stressful physical/mental environment for you, which in turn, can affect your body’s immune system.

In many ways, working methodically towards a healthier body can benefit you at a time like this. Just pay closer attention to how you’re approaching it:

-Eat minimally processed foods

-Aim for lean proteins in every meal

-Focus on fibrous fruits, vegetables and whole grains

-Feel challenged (not crushed) after workouts

-Maintain consistent and restful sleep habits

-Learn your body’s signals about when to push your training and when to pull back

Most importantly, stay healthy and stay safe. Fat loss may not be the most crucial priority in your life right now.

“We Make Great People Greater”