I'm confident in saying that we've all had frustrations when it comes to the scale, including myself.
Sure, sometimes it does exactly what we want it to, by going up and down at the rate we expect. However, often times, that's not the case.
While I'm always focused on the trends versus the outliers, let's talk about what these could possibly be and maybe how to mitigate them. In no particular order, here are 10 primary reasons the scale might fluctuate on you:
1. Hydration: This is why I always recommend weighing first thing in the AM. You're never more likely to have the same levels of hydration then at this time. If you want to weigh after a glass of water or cup of coffee, always do the same amount of fluid, then hop on the scale.
2. Intestinal bulk: You might have been told you're full of S**T before, but this does impact the scale. While I don't recommend you put this pressure on yourself to try to have a BM before you weigh each time, certainly if you're constipated, this can make a difference. Note the early coffee above might be part of this routine to help the process.
3. Muscle swelling: If you're sore, you are likely swollen. In fact, almost a guarantee is if you're wrecked after a hard leg day, the scale will be up. This obviously isn't a bad thing but something to consider.
4. Water retention: Different than #1. This is when you are 'puffy' and holding subcutaneous water under the skin. Lots of factors here, electrolyte balance, environment, hormones, etc.
5. Menstrual cycle: Ladies, I don't have to tell you this, you already know that certain times of the month you're going to fluctuate a few pounds. It's also why I chart this and want to take timing under consideration based on your cycle.
6. Stomach contents: Number 2 is about things you have already eaten prior and are in the process of digestion. This one is about things you just ate and are in your stomach. Simple thing to fix here is to step on the scale before you eat anything.
7. Clothing: Growing up as a wrestler, I could tell you how much each of my shoes weighed and even certain clothes as I ran in and hopped on the scale in between classes. Again, easy fix here is to always wear the same thing (or nothing).
8. The scale itself: Two things on this one. First, if you weigh on two different scales under the exact same conditions, you likely will have different readings. Therefore, always use the same scale. Second, if your own scale gives you different readings at the same time, either it's on an unlevel surface, the batteries might need changing or it's time to get a new scale.
9. Accuracy. If your scale only measures to the pound and not to the tenth of a pound, there could be a wide variation and you don't know it. 185.1 and 185.9 is a BIG difference but if it just says 185 well, that's not good enough.
10. Days of the week: If you track your weight daily, you probably notice trends. Some days you are normally up, some are your low days. This is usually due to one or more of the factors above. I would either do the same days or just get over it and measure daily.
So there you have it. I would be remiss if I didn't say that the scale IS NOT the key indicator of progress, but rather just one of the many metrics to watch. If you have any other factors you notice, please share below. That said, hopefully if you're watching it closely, look at some of the factors above and see if you can help yourself out before you throw the thing out or find a big hammer.
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