Is Your Scale Your BFF?
Weighing is like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. If your emotions and self-worth are on the same track, that number that looks up at you has way too much power over your life.
We expect to see significant changes when we just know we have eaten right and busted our chops working out consistently for a whole week. But, alas, on the scale we hop, only to be disillusioned and frustrated that the number has not budged—or at least not enough to balance our effort. Why does the scale do crazy things like this? Well, maybe the scale is not your best measure of success, especially if you weigh in every day or several times a day.
Your body is constantly burning calories to perform physiological functions that keep it alive and healthy, like digestion, respiration and brain activity—even if you are not physically active. This resting metabolic rate “runs” even when you are asleep. So if you ate more than you should have last night, and woke up to a 3-pound weight gain, did you really gain 3 pounds of fat overnight? Your weight will increase after eating and drinking, but this isn’t real, permanent weight gain. It’s related to the actual weight of the food or liquid you consumed. It’s not related to the calories or the fat content of the meal itself. It takes 3,500 extra calories to even gain one pound of fat. You would have to eat 10,500 extra calories to gain that much weight above your RMR! The food you ate could have been high in sodium, which caused water retention, which then caused the increase in the number on the scale. Late-night eating is often blamed for weight gain, but your body doesn’t know what time you ate—so it doesn’t metabolize food any differently at night than it does in the morning or any other time of day.
Which type of food can be stored as body fat? Too much of any type of food—whether carbohydrates, fat or protein—can result in weight gain that is due to stored fat.
Good health is not always measured in pounds, but in how you feel, how your clothes fit—and clinical results such as lowered blood pressure, improved blood lipids and managed blood sugar. And your worth is certainly not measured by a numerical value on a bathroom scale. So get over your BFF. Let me introduce you to Patience. This friend does not usually make a good first impression, but you should soon see some valuable fringe benefits in a long-term relationship.
Debbie Melvin, M.S., C.F.C.S., is an extension agent for the LSU AgCenter. She specializes in nutrition and knows just about everything there is to know about everyday living.