I’m noticing a trend happening this time of year. People are freaking out. They’re indulging a bit more & the scale is up. They’re feeling shame, guilt & remorse for these indiscretions. They feel like cheaters, failures. They’re confused. What is happening? Am I gaining fat? Is it just water? Oh, what to do??
Okay, let’s discuss it calmly. Let me break it down. The sign of a healthy metabolism is one where your weight does not stay the same day to day, but rather fluctuates based on food intake, salt, hormones, carbs, training, cardio, certain weeks of your cycle, STRESS, alcohol, eating out, eating different foods, hours slept, sleep quality, inflammation, etc. (hopefully it’s clear that these things are not inherently bad; however, they can & do affect scale weight as all can cause your body to hold onto excess water.) This time of year is even worse. More stress. More water retention.
Second, scale weight does not tell us how much lean mass you carry. It also doesn’t know how much stress you endured this week. I say this constantly. I know plenty of women who are 5’5″ @ 125 lbs & appear to be overweight bc they carry too much fat & not enough muscle. And I know women who are 5’5″ @ 160 lbs who are jacked & carry little excess fat. Context. I’m not saying to ignore the scale completely but let’s be honest, it really is just a number unless you are very overweight or very underweight (then it can be more important in measuring health & progress). For most, you’d be better off looking in the mirror as it is a more useful tool.
Third, if you are eating in a deficit for too long, not making progress & finding yourself having BLT’s (bites, licks, tastes) or full out cheats here & there while simultaneously training less often or with less intensity, skipping on cardio & moving less than usual (due to colder weather or low energy from being in a deficit for too long) well then you may be gaining scale weight. It only takes about 250 extra calories a day to gain 1/2 lb per week. Double that & you’ve gained a pound. Eat a bit more, train a bit less, sit on the couch watching Netflix all weekend & it’s 2 lbs or more. It’s really easy to do. (This is one of the reasons why it is imperative to weigh yourself 3-7 days per week, same days & time, and take a weekly average) If your weight is trending upward over a few weeks, chances are it’s not water.
Fourth, this time of year there are parties with family, friends & co-workers. People are eating, drinking & celebrating.
If you choose to overindulge & have an extra (or 10) cookie(s)- it’s okay. Really. It’s not the end of the world. At the very least use it to fuel better & more intense training sessions so that you gain some muscle & strength. Attempt a PR, do an extra set, don’t skip cardio: NOT as punishment but as a reward. You get to train harder because you have more fuel to do so.
My holiday wish is that we get to a point in this journey where we can truly be flexible, enjoy our time with friends, family & co-workers & enjoy eating & training without the negative voice in our head telling us we’ve failed. Do not let your diet define you. Do not let a number define you.
Finally, to get to a place where “I’m up 5lbs” means you’ve PR’d your bench press. Let’s stop waiting on perfection & start living life to its fullest now.
I doubt on anyone’s deathbed you’ll every hear it said “I wish I lost those last 10 lbs.”
Join us in the group to discuss (Ladies only please)