Sunday, June 24, 2018
Health

Focus on movement, good nutrition, not numbers on a scale

Feel compelled to step on the scale, oftentimes daily? You are not alone. You have many scale-addicted buddies who share the same compulsion. Unfortunately, those daily weigh-ins can affect a person's temperament. People who are just beginning the weight-loss journey tend to become frustrated and unhappy with themselves when the numbers do not go down fast enough or, worse yet, suddenly jump up 4 or 5 pounds.

To break the addiction, consider other ways to gauge your weight, such as taking body measurements or periodically checking your favorite jeans or another piece of clothing that will let you know when you're losing inches. If you include strength exercises in your weight-loss program, many times you will lose inches before you will notice a change on the scale. That's because you will be gaining muscle. While the statement that muscle weighs more than fat is a long-held myth, it is true that a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat, helping your body become much firmer and making it possible to drop a clothing size. A pound of muscle could be compared to a solid brick, while a pound of fat is like a lumpy pillow.

There are many reasons weight can fluctuate daily, and they have nothing to do with real weight gain. The typical scale doesn't tell the whole story, either. Even when you reach that special number, you won't know how much muscle you've gained, or your body fat percentage, or just how fit you are becoming.

Normal fluctuation

Sometimes temporary weight gain is water weight.

Approximately 60 to 70 percent of our body mass is water, and it's normal to have daily weight fluctuations. If you are well hydrated, your temporary weight gain can range from 2 to 5 pounds. On the flip side, mild dehydration can cause fluid retention as our amazing bodies try to preserve what little water there is.

If you have eaten a heavy dinner, loaded with salt, you can expect the scale to show added poundage because your body needs to retain water to dilute the sodium intake. Again, that is temporary weight gain.

Caution

If you are losing weight rather quickly on a low-calorie diet, say 9 or 10 pounds in a brief period, you are most likely losing water and muscle tissue instead of fat, as it is hard to burn that many fat calories in a short amount of time. You do not want to lose muscle tissue, because muscle burns calories.

In spite of the many diets that promise rapid results, there is no quick fix for long-term weight loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the dieters who are most successful at losing weight and keeping it off are the ones who lose 1 or 2 pounds a week. They are the ones who make healthy lifestyle changes, incorporating good eating habits and more movement into their lives.

Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at [email protected]

   
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