In last week’s blog post, I provided a detailed (boring) review of the physiological factors that must be considered when weight loss is your goal. I also provided some of the rationale as to why your scale is a poor barometer of weight loss.

In today’s post, I want to take this message one step further by showing you how truly unreliable your scale is.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that weight loss and gain does not happen day-to-day, or even week-to-week. Rather, weight loss (and gain) takes place over months and years and doesn’t follow a straight trajectory. Rather, weight loss trends down overtime, with small increases or decreases happening each week. This is why it’s beneficial to focus on the overall pattern, rather than minute fluctuations that could be due to normal physiological functions discussed previously. And remember, you can lose weight without weighing yourself. If you find that stepping on the scale elicits a negative emotional reaction, then don’t do it! Evaluate your weight loss on how your clothing fits, how you feel, and the achievement of new physical outcomes (such as being able to cross your legs, running a marathon, doing 10 push-ups, etc.).

My Weight Experiment

To determine how much “weight” I gained and lost in a day, I decided to weigh myself several times during a 24 hour period, while taking note of the food and beverages I consumed, the biological processes that occurred, my physical activity, and whether or not I was wearing clothing.

Note: I don’t recommend doing this experiment yourself, as it’s too easy to become obsessed with numbers and oversimplify/misinterpret changes to your weight.

Time: 8:30 am
Location: Home, no clothes
Notes: Woke-up, peed, then weighed myself

Time: 11:30 am
Location: Home, clothes
Notes: In the time span of 3 hours, I ate breakfast, drank ++ water and 2 cups of coffee, took a BM, had a shower, got dressed, and ate another small snack immediately prior to weighing myself

Time: 12:30 pm
Location: Office, clothes
Notes: Ate lunch at work, then weighed myself 15 minutes afterwards

Time: 5:00 pm
Location: Home, clothes
Notes: Ate two small snacks ~ 2 hours prior and drank another small coffee

Time: 8:45 pm
Location: Home, clothes
Notes: Weighed myself after playing a 1.5 hour frisbee game

Time: 11:30 pm
Location: Home, minimal clothing
Notes: Ate a post-workout supper, showered, and weighed myself before going to bed

Time: 8:00 am (the next day)
Location: Home, no clothes
Notes: Woke-up, peed, then weighed myself. The cycle repeats. 🙂

What I Learned

This experiment taught me that we don’t have one true weight; our weight is a range of numbers that reflects the complexity of our body’s normal biological processes. Furthermore, I realized how little weight (pun intended) should be given to the scale measurements I take in my office. Instead, I should be putting a greater emphasis on behavioral indicators of weight gain and loss.

On a personal note, I found this experiment somewhat nerve-wracking given that I would be posting my weight for all to see. Our society does a good job of teaching us to associate various characteristics, such as success, beauty, popularity, likability, motivation, health, etc. with our weight. Although my weight changed throughout the day with my food and beverage intake, physiological functioning, and clothing, my worth, success, appearance, and health did not; I’m not defined by my weight and neither are you!