The Bathroom Scale: Friend or Foe?

The Bathroom Scale: Friend or Foe?

The Bathroom Scale: Friend or Foe?

Dear Nancy,

   I recently bought a really good scale and I weigh myself every morning. Some days, when I think I should have lost weight, the scale says I gained two pounds. This puts me in a really bad mood … what’s going on?

Answer: The scale weighs not just changes in body fat, but also changes in body water and intestinal content. Hence, your weight can fluctuate one or two pounds daily. This is normal. Many factors affect weight. These include:

— Are you constipated? Or do you have diarrhea?

— Are you experiencing pre-menstrual bloat?

–Did you eat a salty Chinese meal the night before? (Salt holds water in the body.)

–Are dehydrated from hard workouts?

–Did you carbo-load? When you store carbohydrate as glycogen in your muscles, you simultaneously store about three ounces of water with every ounce of carbohydrate.

Do not expect your body to stay at a consistent weight. Rather, (water) weight quickly comes and goes. It is not permanent. It is not body fat. You should not let this normal  two- to four-pound fluctuation depress your mood for the day.

Instead of weighing yourself every morning, I suggest you weigh yourself only once a week –if at all. The scale rarely tells you anything you do not already know. It just leaves you feeling judged from the outside in — and might hinder your ability to love yourself from the inside out.

Preferably, you can stop weighing yourself all together Instead, pay attention to how you feel, your athletic performance, and your quality of life. If you feel thinner, and if your clothes are looser, then you have lost body fat. If your clothes feel tighter, there’s more of you to love.

Rather than starting each day by weighing yourself, how about starting the day by smiling at yourself in the mirror and appreciating your body for all the wonderful things it does to help you live a fulfilling life. Be grateful, and enjoy a nice day.

Written by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD is an internationally respected sports nutritionist, weight coach, nutrition author, and workshop leader. She is a registered dietitian (RD) who is a board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She is also a certified WellCoach. Nancy specializes in nutrition for performance, life-long health, and the nutritional management of eating disorders. She counsels both casual exercisers and competitive athletes in her private practice in the Boston area (Newton, MA). Some of her clients consider her to be their food coach, others their food therapist. Regardless, she enjoys the challenge of helping sports-active people transform their suboptimal eating habits into effective fueling plans. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, a best-selling resource, has sold over 550,000 copies and is now in it's new fifth edition.

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