How I lost 1/2 stone in a day, and why you might want to weigh yourself daily
Posted on 7th January 2022 at 17:00
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"People often say that habits don't last, will neither does bathing, that's why we reccomend it daily "
The things we repeat each day determine our future, I brighten mymouth enamel upon wakening and before I drift off to the visions so that I may prevent a possible future of crystal meth teeth, I like a shower each morning to prevent my future self, repelling the future people I meet with its foul odours, I also take my supplements, try to hit at least 10,000 steps, and now I think we should all consider if checking in on the scales each morning should be an inclusion to those habits.
This can have a downside, people become obsessed with weight, horrified at even the slightest fluctuation, but regular weighing can not only help ease those scales anxieties, but also help you become more objective and relaxed about long term weight management.
Understanding scales anxiety.
I get it, I’ve seen it often, as have most personal trainers. A client comes in to the gym, having been trying hard to lose weight, they’ve been hungry, “it’ll all be worth it” they told themselves imagining life as a leaner happier person.
So, they come into the gym and finally the moment they’ve been dreading arrives as they step onto the scales having first removed all the heavy objects from their being.
And the scales show a weight gain.
I’ve tried to reason with them as they disappointingly tell me how broken their bodies are, that perhaps it’s their thyroid?, or just a slow metabolism?, but for some reason they just can’t lose weight, and I know how hard it is for them to continue to try and diet in that mindset, not only is excess calorific hyperpalatable food (pringles, pizza, mars bars etc) a great comfort in that low mood state, it’s also easily justified given that all their efforts seem to be ineffective anyway. What’s the point? Is the mantra of those caught out by the great scales deception.
But avoiding the scales isn’t the answer to weight loss or indeed good health, just as avoiding bank statements isn’t akin to sound financial management, there can be no “safe place” to protect us from the information we need to make informed decisions. In fact the more relevant data we have the better decisions we can make.
I have myself been on a weight loss journey for two months last year, in my case for a sporting ambition, just before making a second attempt on the Wolds way, I planned to knock a few hours of my previous time and I figured carrying extra weight that didn’t need to be there might help give me some extra speed.
To help practice what I preach, I hired a coach to help keep me accountable, and it really helped, I logged my calories and checked in with him every week, and in those two months I lost over 8kg, and this is despite my weekend alcohol and junky goodness intake.
During this process I noted my weight every day, and as you might expect, my gallons of beer every Saturday and Sunday combined with take away and chocolates saw my Monday morning weight jump up considerably, but then Monday to Friday as I got the milage in, cut back on booze and paid more diligence to what I ate the scales showed a reduction in weight, resulting in a wonky graph with lots of weight gain and weight loss, but ultimately a long slow steady move in the right direction for me.
Although I lost a decent amount of weight, the scales really did fluctuate a lot, for example a couple of weeks into it, on a Tuesday morning I stood completely naked on my bathroom scales and gave a triumphant little fist pump.
82.2kg, just 24 hours earlier I had done this exact same thing and weighed 86.4kg, that’s a four-point two-kilogram drop, meaning somehow, I had managed a 28,000 calorie deficit in just one day (one kilogram of fat is about 7000 calories) so how the hell did I manage this?
We’ll I’d like to say this was the result of one of my extreme endurance challenges combined with a diet of nothing but celery and misery, but the truth is a little more nuanced than that.
First let’s examine all the factors which contribute to bodyweight, and weight loss.
First and foremost, our true bodyweight is altered every day according to how much or how little we eat, and how much or how little we move.
Over the weekend I tend to relax, spend time with family, drink a lot of beer and recover from training hard in the gym and working hard Monday to Friday. So come Monday morning I have an entire weekend of calories to step on the scales with, my glycogen stores are topped up, and I’m well hydrated.
My watch is probably not 100% reliable in terms of exactly how accurately it measures my steps, but it does at least do this every day with the same consistency of inaccuracy and using those numbers I have a rough idea of how many calories I burn.
So on Sunday I had a lazy kind of day, only managed 7,033 steps, and in total I burned around 2429 calories.
Monday I ran to work, a distance of 8.3 miles, I also ran to Humber Rescue in the middle of the day, total 2.5 miles from the gym. I also ran the return journey from both of these places meaning I ran a total of twenty-one miles that day, completing 40,893 steps, which means I burned up around 5,189 calories, a difference of 2760 calories from Sunday.
That’s the calories out part, but what about the calories in?
Sunday I usually always have a full English Breakfast in the morning, then for lunch I’ll have something light such as a protein shake and some fruit, then for tea I often have a roast dinner, chicken, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, gravy and carrots and broccoli.
On top of this I usually have a yoghurt with fruit and a crumbled biscuit in the evening, and from the afternoon onwards I’ll usually drink a few beers, about five or six pints in total.
So, Sunday total calories was about 3600, given that I was inactive this day this inevitably means that I put weight on. This is fine by me as my weight always goes up at the weekends but then during the week, I tend to burn up a lot of calories.
On Monday I was a little more careful with what I ate.
Breakfast was just a protein shake, lunch was rice, tuna and veg, tea was a chicken sandwich and for snacks I ate low fat Greek Yoghurt, biscuits, and fruit.
Ok it was five biscuits, and 50g of Reeses Peanut butter cups mixed in with my yoghurt, with a dessert spoon of maple syrup. I ran over twenty miles that day, don’t judge me!
So, Monday’s total was 2,722 calories in, 5,189 calories out, total deficit of 2,467 calories.
So far not bad, but still not a deficit worthy of ½ stone weight loss.
So where did this mysterious weight loss come from?
Sugar is the fuel our body uses to function, every time my pec muscles contract (pec-pop) every heart-beat, even the work my brain has to do in order to come up with witty yet informative health and well-being articles, is all powered by glycogen.
We obtain this through carbohydrates in the diet. If no carbohydrates are present, glycogen can be made from other macro-nutrients, but I don’t want to diverge too much here.
So at any one time, my body could be carrying around 400 to 800g of glycogen in my muscles, liver and just floating around in my blood, each molecule of glycogen attracts two molecules of water, meaning that 400 to 800g is a total of 1.2kg to 2.4kg of bodyweight that I could potentially lose if I go full ketard*.
Whilst some of the weight loss on the scales might be from glycogen depletion, it’s worth pointing out that it takes at least a few days and a lot of hard work to deplete the body of its carb stores. In any case, I deliberately ate a lot of carbohydrates on Monday to help fuel all that running I did, at least that’s my excuse for all the biscuits.
Sorry to be gross, but the weight on the scales each day is affected by toilet habits, in short, the more a person empties their bowels and bladder before stepping on the scales, the less they weigh, this is fine up to a point, but bear in mind that increased activity and decreased calorie intake can affect this, simply put, there is less food to be digested and turned into faeces, so as you lose weight, you poo less, meaning the scales might not be giving you the full picture, which brings me onto fibre.
The amount of roughage in your diet is important for digestive, heart, and tooth health, and is especially important with weight loss, it’s common for people to become constipated when trying to lose weight, especially if they follow a low carb keto diet, but eating a lot of fibre comes with one consequence, a little weight gain.
If a person wants to lose weight quickly, such as an athlete trying to make a weigh in twenty-four hours before an event, they might go on a low fibre diet to help lose a little weight, about half to one kg. This isn’t a recommended strategy for non-athletes.
To be more specific with this, a person produces around one oz of poo for every twelve pounds of bodyweight, at my bodyweight of 86kg (yes, I’m going to go there) I have the potential to build a log cabin weighing in at an impressive 446g.
Whilst I may have lit a morning bum cigar on the Monday, it’s quite possible that all the running activity on Monday allowed me to drop off more chocolate para troopers at the local swimming baths on Tuesday morning, therefore contributing further to my weight loss. (I hope your enjoying all these euphonism’s).
Yet more fun facts for you, most people piss about 250 to 400 mls, about six to seven times a day.
This means on average people piss about 800mls to 2 litres a day.
I on the other hand can exceed this amount, with all the running I do it can be hard to stay hydrated, so I might drink at least four litres a day. The bladder reacts to fluid intake accordingly each day so it’s possible that on the Monday after a weekend of little activity I hadn’t peed out much, and then before Tuesdays weigh in I managed to make enough sugar puff flavour lemonade for a picnic at R.Kelly’s house.
On top of this, it’s also possible I was dehydrated on the Tuesday morning. Don’t believe the hype of sports drinks companies, a little dehydration isn’t a terrible thing, in fact there are some studies showing winners of events with as much as 10% dehydration at the finish line. Granted though, this was testing in hot conditions with excess hydration and carb loading pre-race.
A hydration level anywhere from 1 to 5% might be feasible on my training days, this would account for about ¾ of a kg to 4kg, I’ve noticed bigger losses in the past from stepping on the scales before and after a long run, and whilst conditions aren’t exactly hot now, wearing a waterproof jacket can result in a lot of excess sweating.
Whilst realistically I try to stay hydrated throughout the day and take salt tablets to help absorb that additional water, I still find myself with darker urine on training days, so likely, some of my Tuesday weight loss would have come from dehydration.
It’s also possible that on the Monday I was holding onto a lot more water, Saturdays and Sundays consist of some beer drinking and sitting down trying to do as little as possible whilst avoiding angry looks from my family. So, when I stepped on the scales on Monday the chances are that I was holding onto a little more water than usual.
Other factors which might affect weight
• Hair cut (come to think of it I did have my long, luscious locks cut on the Monday, at least a gram or two of weight there)
• For women menstruation can influence weight.
• Salt intake (can either influence water retention or dehydration depending on fluid intake)
• Caffeine intake (acts as diuretic)
• Certain medications and/or underlying health conditions.
Also... being a ridiculously good looking and awesome Personal Trainer in Hull :).
I hope it’s now clear just how many factors there are which can affect the numbers on the scales, in knowing this information you might be able to avoid panicking when the numbers jump up (as they inevitably will do at some point), or being misled when they go down.
Use the numbers to guide you, if they’ve jumped up and you know you’ve been inactive and ate more than usual, then at least you can act on that information, if it’s gone up and you think your diet has been good and you’ve been quite active, then consider the possibility that it may be just a little more water weight, or glycogen, or wee or poo.
It’s important to keep a long-term perspective on weight, going up or down a few lbs over a week isn’t a big deal, but going up or down a lot of lbs over a few months is more informative.
A study from 2016 in which participants took part in a weight loss program over six months showed that those who weighed themselves most often had significantly greater weight loss than those who weighed themselves less.
Another twelve-month behaviour weight loss study showed the same thing.
I hope I’ve put a good case forward for regular weighing, however for those people for whom scale weight causes genuine distress then consider using a 3rd party to help you monitor your weight, they might also take regular photos and measurements, as is so often the case with many clients I’ve worked with, it might be that whilst the scales aren’t shifting much, over all visual appearance can be dramatic.
If you go ahead and weigh yourself often, check that your scales give the same reading if you move them an inch or two to the left or right, or up or down, and try stepping on and off them a few times to ensure they’re calibrated properly, different scales will give different numbers, and sometimes the same scale can give wildly different numbers each time you step on them.
Additional note for women...
Hormones can impact on weight, the menstrual cycle in particular, weeks One and three of your cycle are not comparable to weeks 2/5. If you're comparing like with like then weeks three and six would be a fairer comparison.
There would also be differences if on contraception such as the pill, and the dramatic changes in hormonal fluctutations that take place during the menopause would certainly create weight variance on a day to day, week to week basis.
The point of this article was to point out that weight fluctutaes, a lot, throughout every single day of your life, so ideally try and make peace with that, and remember that bodyweight is not a measure of your worth, and there are many many things it does not measure, such as the improvements your body might have made in blood pressure, or cholesterol, or increased mitochondria, or even improved feelings of wellbeing or many other changes which are not monitored as regularly.
*ketard – noun, a person who forgoes tasty delicious carb goodness in their diets under the mistaken apprehension that carbs are bad, carbs make you fat etc.
“why has Terry mixed avocado, honey and cocoa together to form a more calorific and yet less tasty version of chocolate mousse?..oh didn’t you know? Looks like he’s gone full ketard”.
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