By Chris Haro
It is a morning like any other morning. I am cuddled in my cocoon of blankets as the cool morning air presses down, the dog pressed firmly next to me as if advising me he is conquering the night with me. Then, the sound of torture hits… THE ALARM. AH! TURN IT OFF! After a few rounds of snooze button roulette, I finally get up, stretch the sleep out of me and get the day started. As I do many days, I head to the restroom to do what many dread… visit the square pad of torture, also known as the scale. I am feeling good today. The day before, I got on the scale and it applauded me for my health efforts with a proclamation that I had lost a pound and a half! All the efforts, runs, stretches and healthy eating is finally starting to pay off… things are on the right track. I get on the scale, as confident as a knight after slaying a dragon and saving the princess. Today I expect continued greatness. I look down, and my immediate reaction is WHAT THE… I GAINED A POUND! It took everything not to declare war on the scale and give it the water torture treatment! How can this be? I was doing so well! Am I doing everything right? What is possibly going on?????
One thing is certain; the scale can be a very agonizing aspect of measuring our health and weight loss progress. Though it is a very good thing to measure our weight, and many people out there measure the dramatic numbers from the scale as it was the complete gospel of our health, when the truth is, it is only a part of the entire picture. When getting on the scale, it may be good to remember a few important factors that could make that scale go up and down. Here are a few things that I believe will help you to not only see the whole picture, but to also prevent yourself from going crazy.
Weight and Sodium
It is a known fact that the more sodium we use in our foods will hurt us in our health efforts. Experts say that the daily intake for sodium is between 1,000mg and 3,000mg. One single teaspoon of salt contains over 2,000mg! Too much sodium in the body will make you retain water, gain weight and in many cases cause blood pressure and heart rate to increase. Eating healthy foods can help us to keep sodium levels down, and avoid processed foods, which contain more sodium than anything else we eat or drink. Also, drink pleanty of water, which helps restore, hydrate and clean out our bodies.
Scale Does NOT Measure Fat Loss or Gain Alone
The scale does not see everything that is going on in the body at that moment. Yes, some scales can attempt to measure body fat, but many scales only give one number; total weight. Not just body fat, but total weight, including muscle, water, food intake and organ weight. People often forget to think about how much food weighs. When you have a dinner and you get on the scale a few hours later, depending on the food, you are probably measuring the weight of that dinner as well. Food metabolizes differently, so if you have a salad, it takes a couple hours for your body to break it down, and if you have a steak dinner, it may take up to 12 hours.
Muscle without a doubt weighs more than fat. Think of the difference of fat weight and muscle weight to a pile of feathers and a small bar of gold. Muscle mass weighs much more than fat, so when you gain a few pounds of muscle weight with exercise, will add to the equation. Fat will also begin to burn off easier as your muscles build, so the more consistent you are with your exercise and nutrition efforts, the more your body will build muscle and burn fat. So those of you who are starting out on a work out routine, don’t be alarmed if you gain a few pounds as you start, keep going! You will start to see your body acclimate to the process and you will see the fat burn and muscle build.
The best way to measure the true success of your weight loss journey is to not just get on the scale, but to also take measurements and to also measure how your clothes feel. You may not see the healthy effects at first, but you will see it in the way you feel, as well as how your clothes fit.
Health Fat Loss: Slow and Steady
Many people watch the Biggest Loser and they see these people lose crazy amounts of weight in the first couple of episodes. Yes, it is very motivating and they are amazing stories, and the truth is, they work out 6-8 hours a day in a strict environment. Many experts agree that a healthy amount to look at losing is around 2 pounds a week. With a slow and steady approach, your body will change properly, get use to the new lifestyle and keep the weight off longer. The quicker you lose weight, the faster it can come back on, which is both aggravating and also potentially dangerous. Quick fluctuations of weight, back and forth too long can cause health issues.
So next time you get on the scale, make a mental note on how you are doing in your personal health journey. Take a look at what you are eating, how much you exercise and keep a healthy outlook on what your weight is. Many people are ditching the scale all together and use measurements and their clothes, and most of all, how they feel in determining how well they are at losing weight and getting their health in order.