We all have them, either gathering dust in the corner or being overused and worn out by the constant use of them. No, I’m talking about the exercise bike that is doubling up as a clothes hanger! I’m referring to that small square object that rules our lives, and can control the way we feel. Making us happy, sometimes, but mostly leaves us despondent. A bit like having a kebab and then regretting it after.
It’s the weighing scales!
Please deliver us from this evil! So many diets and exercise regimes have failed because this contraption tells us “you are still fat”, “you really messed up this week.” How many times have we fallen into the same old trap and letting the scales rule our lives! How many times have we been to a slimming club and one of the first things you see are scales sitting there, mocking us. People will deliberately not eat that day because they want to lose some weight before the big weigh in. It’s probably why many people don’t consistently turn up week on week. Knowing they have not done as well as they have liked.
Don’t get me wrong
These clubs serve a purpose of getting people together and offering support to helping to try to lose that weight, but using a pair of scales to record your success and failure isn’t the best way of keeping you motivated and consistent with your diet and exercise.
Fact: The scales will tell you accurately your body WEIGHT! But not your body fat!
Females, don’t beat yourselves up! You have it hard!
As a female, your weight can go up and done more times during the month than a basketball on crack. Because of the menstrual cycle your weight can fluctuate by up to 10 pounds or around 5kg within that month. How many women get on the weighing scales everyday and see the weight go up and down making your head spin. This will lead to feeling low and confused especially if the numbers don’t go the way you want them to.
Weight fluctuations are normal
Everyone will have weight fluctuations during day to day living. This could be down to many reasons including water retention, bloating after eating certain foods i.e. carbs can temporarily store water. You notice a pattern? Water! If your weight is going up and down over the day then it’s probably water not fat!
Water does not equal having body fat
Let’s put this into perspective. I just weighed myself, and I’m now at 12 stone, around 76kg. I then drink a large glass of water which weighs and then another. Weigh myself again, OMG. I’ve just gained another 4 pounds in weight! Ok, shall I?
P.S. I have done number 2 on more than one occasion. Don’t judge me! I love a bourbon! Anyway, the point is, within a 2-minute period, I put on around 4 pounds in weight not fat. Let’s face it, we normally go on the scales and presume that we have gained fat weight, not water.
Ok, what do I do then?
Don’t throw away the scales, just use them as a tool, but not the only tool. What we need to know how much body fat you have. The bad news is, it’s quite difficult to measure. There are tools and instruments you can purchase that are “suppose” to measure body fat. Quite frankly though, these can be very inaccurate and can give you a false reading.
Calipers: Pinch the skin in certain places on your body and get a measurement – very hard to use to get an accurate reading.
Body fat monitor scales: Measures through a small electrical current passing through the body which measure how fast the current travels through water, bone, muscle – never found these great as your hydration levels can fluctuate and can give you a false reading.
DEXA body fat scan: A machine goes over you body like an X-ray and give you a body composition scan - Quite accurate but also can be expensive, not even certain you get a Bourbon biscuit while waiting.
Water displacement: Under water weighing in a water tank. Which measures water displacement and calculates tissue density etc – Sounds expensive, sounds stupid, I have a life. Besides I’ve seen the film Jaws and I don’t fancy the flashbacks.
Looks like I’m screwed then!
Go by how your clothes fit: Get on some trousers (non-elastic) etc. See how they fit? Are they getting looser around the waste? Then you are heading in the right direction. Are they getting tighter? Go back and check your calorie intake.
Mirror: Look in the mirror. You are the best measuring device to know how you’re doing.
Measuring tape: Measure around the hip and waste and write down the results once every couple of weeks or even better once a month. If the measurement is getting lower, you’re on point. If it’s going up, go back and check your calorie intake.
Scales: If you must use the scales, then remember to change your mindset about what the scales tell you. It’s body weight not body fat. Only weigh yourself once every couple of weeks or even once a month. Just make sure the scales are on the same flat surface used the week before. Weigh yourself the same time of day, preferably when you get up in the morning.
Keep it simple
Don’t over complicate things. Eat mostly whole good foods, exercise a few times a week, sleep well, stay hydrated. Be patient, it will happen!
There is a world of advice out there on what to eat and how to lose weight. Just look at google and you get overloaded with an extraordinary amount of information that can be confusing and damn right contradictory.
Some many diets to choose from makes the mind explode and turn to jelly. No wonder 95% of diets fail! Yes that's, correct 95%.
Slimming World Weight Watchers
They all have one thing in common. They put your body in a calories deficit, sounds great, right? Yes, it would be if you can keep it up. Who wants to spend the next few months half starving yourself on a shake or not being able to eat chocolate because it's a "sin." We lose weight in the first few weeks but feel miserable because we cannot tackle the pack of Maltesers sitting on top of the kitchen cupboard beckoning you to open the packet and eat their contents.
What happens then?
You hit rock bottom because you cannot sustain this food restrictions anymore and you start to binge eat and feel bad about yourself. After a few weeks/months you start the whole cycle again...lose some weight, put more back on. We have all been there, but let's be clear. You don't fail the diet the diet fails you!
All you should try and do is:
Eat mostly healthy foods (unprocessed foods that come from the ground and leans meats) and have a small treat when you want to.
That’s basically it! Let’s break it down a little more.
Most of your food, around 80% should be from healthy choices of food you like. The other 20% can be foods that you may think of it as a treat.
My calories for the day are 2400kcals so 0.80x2400=1920. (0.80 is 80%) 2400-1920=480. So, my treat calories are around 480kcal. This is my calorie range and everyone is different. Women tend to have a lower calorie need. If you look online for a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator, it will tell you how many calories you should be eating.
If you want to lose weight you should take the calories down by around 20% if the calculator does not account for this.
Example the BMR calculator says I should be eating 2700 to maintain my current weight. But I need to lose some weight so I do this calculation:
2700x0.20=540kcal (this is my daily calorie deficit)
We must remember that it takes 3500kcal to lose around a pound of fat. So, by this assumption we should lose around a pound a week!
So, to lose weight I need to be eating around 2160 a day to start losing weight.
Don’t trust the scales to tell you the complete story.
Our weight will fluctuate throughout the day. Just remember when you drink half a litre of water (just a large glass.) You will put on over a pound in weight instantly!
Does this mean you have piled on a pound of fat? Certainly not. If your drinking around two litres a day that is over four pounds of weight but not fat…water has no calories. Worrying about your weight using scales is a false measurement and needs to be taken in context with a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re in a calories deficit and doing moderate exercise you will lose weight!
Make weight loss simple by just having a healthy lifestyle but still having treats. This will help in your long-term goals to lose weight and more importantly...keep it off.
Just be consistent and trust the process. It WILL happen.