Tuesday, August 19, 2008

S.O.S: Why the Scale Lies

Has the Scale ever lied to you? Ever felt like you were doing everything right but the scale didn't reflect your hard work?

I have had several experiences when I knew my scale must have been lying to me! I have been working out really consistently since March. In the beginning the scale did not move one bit but I stayed motivated and tried to ignore the scale. I decided to do some research and see why my scale did not reflect all the hours I spent in the gym. I found this great article by certified Personal Trainer, Renee Chole that really breaks down all the factors of the scale. I have highlighted some of the really important parts here.

To all my S.O.S. Fitness Challenge participants stay motivated and don't let that scale distract you! If you are eating right and exercising the weight will eventually come off. Don't forget to share this information with your sisters, friends, co-workers. We have to support and motivate each other.

1. Water makes up about 60% of total body mass. Normal fluctuations in the body’s water content can send scale-watchers into a tailspin if they don’t understand what’s happening. Two factors influencing water retention are water consumption and salt intake. Strange as it sounds, the less water you drink, the more of it your body retains. If you are even slightly dehydrated your body will hang onto it’s water supplies with a vengeance, possibly causing the number on the scale to inch upward. The solution is to drink plenty of water.

2. Excess salt (sodium) can also play a big role in water retention. However, a food doesn’t have to taste salty to be loaded with sodium. A half cup of instant pudding actually contains nearly four times as much sodium as an ounce of salted nuts, 460 mg in the pudding versus 123 mg in the nuts. The more highly processed a food is, the more likely it is to have a high sodium content.

3. Another factor that can influence the scale is glycogen. Think of glycogen as a fuel tank full of stored carbohydrate. Some glycogen is stored in the liver and some is stored the muscles themselves. This energy reserve weighs more than a pound and it’s packaged with 3-4 pounds of water when it’s stored. Your glycogen supply will shrink during the day if you fail to take in enough carbohydrates. As the glycogen supply shrinks you will experience a small imperceptible increase in appetite and your body will restore this fuel reserve along with it’s associated water. It’s normal to experience glycogen and water weight shifts of up to 2 pounds per day even with no changes in your calorie intake or activity level.

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Ever had any bad experiences with the scale? Share your story


Anonymous said...

I take my scale weight regularly (once a week). Because of some of the reasons you listed though, I weigh in on Friday mornings. That way I know my sodium levels are fairly normal (no wknd eating out) and I've been drinking my water regularly. I don't get too caught up in the numbers because overall inches are more important. But I think it is important to have that reality check every so often.

LuvlyLayD said...


I randomly stumbled upon your blog and I like what I see! Good stuff!

As for this entry, we also have to remember that a scale reflects EVERYTHING including muscle and we all know that muscle weighs more than fat. It is better to actually get measurements done by a certified personal trainer to get a more accurate idea of your body's composition.

For most of my life, I never weighed myself regularly, you know, outside of doctor appointments. At the time it wasn't really necessary, I was tiny. One's best bet is to really go off of inches they've lost and generally, the way they look (ie the way clothes fit). Now that I'm aiming to slim down a bit, the scale can be useful despite its shortcomings.

So although the scale isn't necessarily accurate, it's a sort of inaccurate constant - if that makes any sense. If, over time, you see your weight getting less and less, you know you're losing weight and about how much. But again, it'd have to be over an extended period of time, not necessarily week to week.

How much weight (and sizes) did you lose since you began exercising regularly?

Fitness Goddess said...

I'm always happy to hear your advice. I aspire to be a marathon runner like you one day.....


Thanks for stopping by and checking out the site. I agree muscles are a big issue and it was also included in the article. I have gone from a size 14 to a size 10 since I started exercising regulary in March 08. Some of the 10's are feeling kinda big now. Oh, and I've lost 28 lbs. My goal is lose about 20 more lbs. So I'm trying to stay motivated.

luvlylayd said...

that's great fitness goddess!

and if you don't mind my asking, are you dealing with stretch marks? and if so, have they become less noticeable with the weight loss?

just curious as I have just discovered some on my body :-( very disheartening, as I am trying to lose weight.

Glennisha Morgan said...

Great info! I was recently listening to Monique's radio show and she was saying also that you can't really tell if a person is healthy by how they look.I guess the real way to determine healthiness is to make sure you're up to date with your check ups at the doctor. Have tests ran as needed and let your dr. determine rather you're unhealthy or not.

Jacqueline said...

The scale and I have never been good friends; therefore, I just rely on how my body feels. If I feel carefree, and light, I know I'm where I want to be.

.black.girl. said...

A suggestion: instead of using regular scales, there's the scales that also include your body fat percentage.

At first I was disappointed because over the past few months, from April to July I have only went from a range of 155-157 to 151-152. However, when I looked at the body fat percentage, I realized that my body fat went down from 32.5% to 29.8%.

So yeah- muscle plays a really big role and scales that include the body fat percentage really helps to see the difference!

-Hope that helps!