- Brian Tully, MS, EP-C
The Scale is Making You Fat
(As printed in Leland Magazine)
Yes it may sound crazy, but I believe the scale is one of the many culprits contributing to your weight gain. It may actually be one of your biggest problems.
I know many of you look at the scale as your primary validation that you are making progress with your new exercise program.
But too often we find ourselves in the trap of checking our scale weight daily or even multiple times throughout the day. I hate to break it to you, but your body is not going to react that quickly. If it does…you should be worried.
Your body is designed to protect itself. It will do everything it can to maintain a balance as best as possible. If you do something that throws things out of balance quickly, your body will react quickly and sometimes harshly to balance things back out.
It is the unrealistic expectations of how quickly the scale should change that causes the damage. You check your weight in the morning and then again that night to see your progress for the day…or maybe you wait and do it each morning…or maybe you have the will power to wait and do it every other day. All of which is too often!
So how do these frequent weigh-ins effect your progress…honestly they sabotage you…they will make you fatter! Maybe not today or tomorrow, but in the weeks or months ahead it won’t be pretty.
Let’s look at an example of what I am talking about.
You weigh-in at the start of your week and the beginning of your new workout program. You weigh yourself again that night to see how your first day of eating better and exercising impacted your weight. To your surprise, you are up a ½ pound since this morning. So you think to yourself maybe you ate a little too much today. You will eat a little less tomorrow.
You check the scale at the end of day 2 and you are now back down to your starting weight. So 2 days in and you weigh exactly the same. Is that right? Two days of exercise and eating better and you weigh the same as before you started?
You think if this is going to work you must need to make more drastic changes. You will have to eat less and work out longer on day 3. End of day 3 you are only down a 1/4 pound. That is just not fast enough…it will take forever to reach your goal at this pace. That must mean less food and more work. After all you are committed to lose the weight!
This continues through the end of the week and now you are seeing some progress…you are down 3 pounds in 1 week. It’s working! Why not try for 4 pounds in Week 2! In order to lose more, I will need to workout harder and longer…and I will only eat fruit and drink water.
This person in the example is in an extreme mode, but it happens on some level with everyone looking at the scale as their sole measuring stick.
You may jump ahead of your body for a short while, but your body is going to react to this. It is going to protect itself. It will slow down your metabolism, which means your calorie burn that would allow you to lose body fat is going to basically become non-existent. So no more fat loss, but there will definitely be some muscle loss. Muscle is the primary user of the calories you consume. Your body needs to feed your muscles in order to keep them around. But if you don’t give your body enough food to feed them, your body is going to go on a calorie budget and cut expenses…your muscles. And mind you, the muscles are the last thing you want to see go.
As your metabolism slows down and you lose muscle, your workouts become harder to complete. Your energy will be low. Your body will be slowing you down. You will begin to think this whole working out thing is too hard. You’re tired. No matter what you do you can’t seem to lose anymore weight.
So what do you do next? You start eating “normal” again. You start eating those things you were depriving yourself from having? And with your body starved for fuel, it is going to tell you that those things taste so good, so you will eat a little more than you should. And of course you will stop wasting your time working out. What’s the point…you just end up feeling tired and it clearly doesn’t work because no matter how hard you workout and how little you eat the scale doesn’t seem to want to budge anymore!
So there you go…your frequent weigh-ins have caused you to spiral down a path that has led you to a place where you are now with less muscle, a slower metabolism, and all the weight you originally lost has returned and brought a handful of extra pounds with it. Your scale has made you fat!
But it does not have to be that way. There is a better way, a way that will show you your progress and not derail your efforts.
Tune in to the blog post next month to learn a better way.