Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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.


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

Side lunge with leg lift and bent row: This balance exercise targets the legs, glutes, sides of back and oblique muscles (the muscles that run along sides of the abs).

Holding a weight in your left hand, step out to the right into a side lunge, reaching your left hand toward your right foot with a straight arm, right hand resting on hip or thigh for support. Pull the weight back into a bent row as you lift your right leg into a side leg lift. Beginners might want to extend their leg to the side and toe-tap the floor. Perform the movement eight to 12 times, then repeat on the opposite side.

Standing side crunch: This ab exercise will improve balance while targeting the obliques.

Standing tall, extend your right arm straight up without locking your elbows, adding a light weight if you wish. Place your opposite hand on your hip to help with balance. With chest open, balance on your left leg, lifting your right leg into a side knee lift while bringing your bent right elbow toward your right knee. Return your arm upward and tap your foot on the floor, repeating this sequence eight to 12 times, then change sides and repeat. If you need more support for balance, hold on to something stable with your free hand.

Knees to chest: A relaxing back stretch.

Lying on your back, bring your knees into your chest, with bent legs parallel to the floor and arms wrapped under thighs. You may add a gentle back massage by rocking slowly side to side.

Focus on movement, good nutrition, not numbers on a scale 07/24/16 [Last modified: Sunday, July 24, 2016 5:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Men have body image issues too


    I have lost and gained weight several times in my adult life. It wasn't a problem when I was younger and working construction. An "ideal" office job 30 years ago started the yo-yo effect. I don't have any more weight to lose, but the potential of gaining it back is always there.

    Andrew Meacham on February 2015, left, and May 2017, right.
  2. Lost Highway: As FHP struggles to recruit, speeding tickets plummet

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The number of speeding tickets written by Florida state troopers has plunged three straight years as the agency grapples with a personnel shortage and high turnover.

    A Florida Highway Patrol Academy class in the late 1980s. Typically, graduating classes had about 80 recruits. But the most recent class has less than half that as the agency continues to struggle to fill vacancies. [

Florida: Highway Patrol]
  3. Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey, squishy Slime craze


    First it was Play-Doh. Then Gak. There have been dozens of variations for sale of the oozy, gooey, squishable, stretchable kids' toy through the generations.

    Aletheia Venator and Berlyn Perdomo demonstrate the stretchiness of their slime. - Berlyn Perdomo and her friend, Aletheia Venator, both 13, make and sell slime which can be seen on their instagram site @the.real.slimeshadyy [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. After last year's drug-related deaths, Tampa's Sunset Music Festival says it's stepping up safety, security

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Alex Haynes worked three jobs. He had a fiance and an infant son. He owned his own home in Melbourne. Last summer, the 22-year-old attended the Sunset Musical Festival at Raymond James Stadium.

    He left in an ambulance.

    Last year’s Sunset Music Festival was marked by dozens of medical emergencies.
  5. What you need to know for Friday, May 26


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Read this morning why Florida's most prized sweet corn is nearly extinct. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]