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How to know if your weight scale is a big fat liar

Your weight scale is a great tool to measure how much weight you’ve lost? I mean: your weight isn’t showing anything else than the force of gravity on you, which may be defined as the mass times the acceleration of gravity. Or something. I was never any good at this in school, so correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not even going to Google this.

But this gravity thing isn’t all that reliable when you weigh yourself very often. Every time you get these different numbers. One thing is real, though: down is right, up is terrible.

The question is, though: does that devil of a thing show you the right number all the time? I dare to say that it doesn’t. Your weight scale can be a big fat liar, so now and then.

In whatever way you use your weight scale, please don’t let it define if you’re good enough, because whatever a scale does, it doesn’t say if you worked hard enough at reaching your goal or if you’ve lost enough this week.

Enough is such a subjective word. We load it with sub-conscious stories about who you are and if you’re good enough as a person.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE YOUR WEIGHT SCALE?

In my opinion, you shouldn’t weigh in more often than once a week when you’re on a weight loss program. I will explain why, later on in this blog. But when you are just starting maintenance after you’ve lost a lot of weight and wanted to keep it off, your weight scale might be a good friend.

Depending on how you label the results, the weight scale gives you; I might also advise you to not even weigh in at all while on a weight loss program. There are so many other ways to define if you’re losing weight that it is ridiculous to trust that one tool so much. Too often, I see emotional eating or disordered eating in connection with daily weighing. When you’re obsessed with the number on the scale will not help you to come back to who you are and what you want to create in your life.

To help you, here are eight moments when you’d better decide that your weight scale is a big fat liar.

scale

RIGHT AFTER YOU’VE HAD DINNER

So, you only had dinner, and you’re 4 pounds heavier? Huh? How’s that possible? This weight gain is often not about added body fat, which takes so much longer to create. What is possible is that your blood volume has grown because you ate and drank during the day. Without noticing, this can cause quite a lot of weight. Calculate the weight of all those cups of water you drank plus the weight of all the meals you ate. It is probably more than the weight gain you now see reflected between your toes.

It often takes 24 hours or more for your body to decide what to do with the food you ate. So eating outside of your rule book doesn’t mean you’ll gain weight. Eating outside of your rule book several times a week does.

Know that it takes at least 3600 kcal above your metabolical maintenance level to gain a pound of body fat. That is a lot, and it will often be reached by eating more than you should on a daily level than in one meal. So it is the daily habit that you check, not the one ‘over the top meal with friends.’

DURING THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF A NEW DIET OR TRAINING PROGRAM

Don’t you love it, those first two weeks of a diet? You lose weight fast, and you think it will always be like that. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re most probably losing water weight and muscle tissue. Losing body fat doesn’t go that fast. Yeah… bummer.

After a week or two, your body will settle in the new regime and will build back the muscles if your diet is healthy enough, and if you eat enough.

Most people also become more active when starting a new diet by going to the gym (again) or starting a work out regime outside. So what your body lost in the first few weeks because your body had to get used to getting less food, is now being rebuilt again. This aspect may cause your body to gain weight a bit. Building muscle is hard work.

Your body needs food, water, and rest to do its job. So at first, your weight scale might show a rise because your body holds on to things first before it starts to build muscles. Does that tell you that you didn’t do your best? Hell no, you did you best and more than that. Give that body of yours a bit of slack… it is working hard for you.

To know if you’re losing fat mass, you’ll need a particular weight scale that sends a small current through your body to see what kind of tissue it finds in its way. The current will move through the water quickly, but it takes longer to move through fat tissue. Use a high-quality weight scale that has this feature and use the impedance feature only once a month or even once every three months to see a difference. All other weekly weigh-ins, you only register your weight. Nothing more.

Doing an impedance measurement more often shows the up and down of water in and out of your muscles only and its effect it has on fat mass. Trust me; my personal experience is talking here. It will drive you crazy, trying to understand how you can suddenly gain 2 pounds of fat mass in a week while you didn’t do anything wrong.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER A WORKOUT OR A SAUNA VISIT

I’ve seen them, people who step on the scale in the gym or the sauna. A weight scale in a gym is only real information if you want to know how much sweat you lost and how much water you need to drink again to stay healthy.

The same with stepping on a weight scale in a sauna – you’ve spent all day in the spa, spent time in the sauna, and when you go back to the dressing room, there might be a scale. Don’t use it to see if you’ve lost weight. Only use it to see if you need to drink up.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOU DRANK A LOT OF WATER

There are days that even before I hit my office chair, I’ve already drunk a liter of water (4 cups). I have a darling of a husband who brings tea in the morning. I drink another cup of tea at breakfast, maybe even a cup of coffee if I’m in the mood, plus I drink two big glasses to take my vitamins. So my moment to weigh myself is right after I wake up and after I’ve gone to the bathroom. Any later than that, it is no use anymore.

Choose your moment of weighing on the same day of the week, same time, after bathroom visit and preferably without drinking or eating anything before. That will give you the most trusted result.

JUST BEFORE BED

This aspect connects with the first reason why your weight scale is a big fat liar. There is another aspect added to it. Weighing before bed is nothing more than punishment because you probably overate during the day. Why would you weigh yourself if you already know that you’ll be heavier because of what you ate?

If you do this, notice the inner conversation you start with yourself because of the number you see. Also, monitor your quality of sleep because I can’t imagine you’ll have a rested night after being upset with yourself. A better strategy would also be to skip the weigh-in the next morning because you know for sure you’ll see a weight gain. If you’re prone to negative self-talk than weighing in after overeating is not your strategy.

AFTER YOU’VE HAD A BABY

After you’ve had a baby, you often think you’ve lost quite a lot of weight, right? Baby + placenta + amniotic fluid = YESSSS!!! Well, it’s a yes when you’ve weighed just before you went into labor but a big fat no if you compare it to the weight you had before you got pregnant.

Your body will have to change its hormonal balance (again), and it takes time to change it. Going on a diet is a bad idea because changing hormone balances are very, very hard work for your body, and it will need lots of high-quality carbs, proteins, and fats to do that. Enjoy the new baby, follow the food instructions you get from your post-natal coach, and you’ll get there in the end. Don’t go crazy over all the “I had a baby two months ago and look at my abs already” images on Pinterest. That’s social media, not real life…

Take care of yourself to also adjust emotionally and mentally to be a new mom. It is okay to do that. And much healthier for you and your baby.

AROUND YOUR PERIOD

Let me start with the good news: in the two weeks before your period, your metabolism is a tiny bit higher because of the hormonal changes that lead up to your period. Don’t start your happy dance just yet because this is only 4%, so put-back-the-chocolate-bar-now.

Still, this rise in metabolism could be an explanation of why women struggle with eating just before their period. They feel hungrier than the weeks before, and it is hard to say no to something tasty when it comes along.

Right before your period, your weight starts to rise because your body needs water to make this whole process possible. You’ll lose it quite quickly as soon as it has begun.

Your best strategy is to skip your weigh-in when your period is just about to start because of the added water weight.

MY ADVICE ABOUT USING A WEIGHT SCALE WHEN LOSING WEIGHT:

  • Do not weigh yourself more often than once a week.
  • Understand that your scale is pretty stupid and only shows a gravity number and nothing more
  • Always use the scale in the same spot because even that can give a difference in measurement.
  • Stop weighing in and ask your partner or a good friend to hide your scale when you show signs of emotional attachment to your scale.
  • Understand that weight loss is about losing fat mass, not weight.

 

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Does eating at night really make you fat?

It sounds so easy: dinner is over, the kitchen is closed. Well, no. It isn’t that easy. For some reason eating at night is the #1 reason why we gain weight and stay overweight.

The evening is the most favorite moment in the day in which people eat. During daytime, it isn’t that hard because we have a lot of things to do. We have work, kids or whatever we focus on, but in the evening when we sit down to relax, that’s where it starts.

So, how bad it is eating at night really? Well, more than you think. I invite you to take pen and paper and calculate with me to get “hit by a frying pan” (as I lovingly call confrontations like these).

Do you want to stay in a dream state about what is needed to lose weight, I urge you not to read any further. Please don’t, because you’re not going to like me.

Further reading is at your own risk of being confronted with the truth.

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What weight loss all boils down to

Gaining weight all boils down to eating too much. I can show you all kinds of other reasons, but every time they come down to this one reason. Your body doesn’t work differently in the evening as it does during the day. So looking at what you eat altogether over a period of time, you need to eat less than the total of energy you burn during that time frame.

What happens, though, is that your metabolism turns down a notch during the evening and the night because your body is getting ready to start the regeneration mode that goes on in your body during the night.

How much energy do you really burn?

Did you know that 70% of all the energy you use is spent on keeping your body going? It means that your heart needs to beat and your lungs need to process air. So the majority of all energy is to keep you alive. The rest of the 30% is needed to be able to work, to walk, to be active outside or in a gym or to play with the kids.

Research shows that we overestimate the amount of that number. We think we burn loads and loads of energy with a walk or a workout, but reality shows it isn’t that much.

So when you sit down to relax at night, and you’ve been really busy, maybe even been active, then there is a good chance that you think you’ve earned it. Raise your hand if you’ve told yourself: “I’ve been so active, I’ve earned it!”

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Does eating at night really make you fat?

You probably didn’t burn that much

Well, I don’t want to spoil the fun, but you probably didn’t earn the amount of energy by eating at night. If you’re the proud owner of a smartwatch and can see how much you burn in 24 hrs you have to understand that 70% of that number is just what you needed even to survive; to live and breathe. The rest of the number is to get through the day, including get up, do your job, do your groceries, maybe even clean your house if you’re up to it or even work out; your normal things to do in a day.

So let’s see how much you burn and calculate your BMR (the number if you refuse to get up in the morning and stay in bed all day for 24 hrs, with the following Harris-Benedict formula:

Imperial

Women: 655.1 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age)

Men: 66 + (6.2 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.76 x age)

Metric

Women: 655.1 + ( 9.563 x weight in kg ) + ( 1.850 x height in cm ) – ( 4.676 x age in years )

Men: 66.47 + ( 13.75 x weight in kg ) + ( 5.003 x height in cm ) – ( 6.755 x age in years )

How active are you really?

When you’ve calculated your BMR you then multiply it with one of the below numbers that shows how active you are:

1.2 Sedentary.  Little to no exercise
1.375 Mild activity level: Intensive exercise for at least 20 minutes 1 to 3 times per week. This can be cycling, jogging, basketball, swimming, skating, etc.  If you do not exercise regularly, but you maintain a busy lifestyle that requires you to walk frequently for long periods, for instance, working in a shop, you meet the requirements of this level.
1.5 Moderate activity level: Intensive exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes 3 to 4 times per week. Any of the activities listed above will qualify.
1.7 Heavy or (Labor-intensive) activity level: Intensive exercise for 60 minutes or greater 5 to 7 days per week (see sample activities above).  Labor-intensive occupations also qualify for this level.  Labor-intensive occupations include construction work, farming, landscaping or similar occupations.
1.9 Extreme level: Exceedingly active and/or very demanding activities:  Examples include: athletes with an intensive training plan that includes multiple sessions a day, or a very demanding job, such as shoveling coal (who does that these days?) or working long hours on an assembly line. Generally, this level of activity is very difficult to achieve.

Now be honest

Be honest. Have you chosen the right one? I’ll gladly admit that I’ve done the “exaggeration thing” in the past. Being very tired of a workout isn’t part of the equation. And no, one intensive week isn’t going to change your life. The number you choose has to be something you’ve done for a longer time.

But it doesn’t stop there. The number you just calculated is the number to not gain any weight. If you want to lose weight you’ll have to take away 500 kcal. The number you end up with is what you should eat to lose weight at a steady pace.

Choosing the wrong multiplier was one of the causes why I couldn’t lose any weight. When I pulled my head out of the sand and lowered my daily intake, I was able to lose another 50 lbs.

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Uncover the BS nonsense

That’s how powerful thoughts and stories can work for you too. Uncover the stories you tell yourself and lose weight.

How often do you tell yourself a story how hard you worked or how many calories you burned today? How often do you tell yourself that you’ve earned that extra helping or that snack? Be honest. And then calculate how many calories you add while you listen to the happy but fattening chat.

My clients often don’t like me when I let them do this exercise. It sucks. Yes, it also sucks that age is part of the equation. It had been a while ago when I did this equation for the last time, and in the meantime, I added a few years to the equation. Even though I now understand that I can’t eat as much as I used to, it was still a confrontation for me.

So how does this influence your eating at night?

Well, if you only have that 30% that you can influence by being active and you want to lose weight, then you have two choices:

  • Become more active (and I really mean active) or
  • Eat less than you’re eating now (starting with ending eating at night)

Of course, you can eat something at night, it won’t kill you or your goals. Just know when enough is enough, especially when you also have sensitive intestines, sleeping problem, experience a lot of fatigue or have stubborn weight that you just can’t seem to lose.

But that’s a whole different subject that I might cover in a webinar someday. Until that moment you can work with me to make weight loss possible or if you’re just not able to maintain your results. If my way of confronting you is something you might need (no, I’m not on the warpath all the time!) then apply for a strategy call with me.

Let me know in the comments: were you shocked to know how many calories you really can eat in a day?

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