It is common for coaches, self-proclaimed “weight loss experts” and any Dublin personal trainer to highlight their clients’ successes via the medium of social media.
But the client’s success is often defined in terms of weight loss, and fails to include details of what ratio of that weight loss was muscle, fat or water.
The weight on the scales is not a great reference point for your success. It is often the source of great frustration.
It’s important but it should include a method like BIA, (Bio-electrical Impedance Analysis), to determine fluid / muscle loss, calliper measurements by a skilled person certifed by ISAK to measure skin-folds, or pictures taken with the same camera, distance from subject and the same clothing and lighting.
Weight loss is important but it should never be the sole measurement of your progress.
Here are 10 reasons why a Dublin personal trainer should not use the scales as the sole measurement of your fitness progress.
Let’s start with 4 reasons why scale measurement can create fluctuations in results that you can easily controlled.
1). Time of the Day of Weigh Ins –
The later in the day you weigh yourself means that you have probably ingested a number of meals and drank a number of litres of water. This will increase your bodyweight at the time of your weigh in.
There is a reason boxers reduce their water and food intake in the days leading up to a Friday weigh in before replenishing their meals and bodyweight come fight time on Saturday night.
Wear shorts / leggings and a bra top so you can be consistent with your weigh ins as layers of clothing can influence the number on the scales.
3). Quality of scales / Foot placement / Surface
There is a wide discrepancy in the quality of scales for sale. Often scales are not calibrated correctly and so your weight may vary from scale to scale. It’s important that you weigh yourself on a good quality scales and use the same scales to weigh in all the time.
The surface the scales are placed on can also influence fluctuations in weight. The floor levels can vary from room to room. There will be a difference in your weight if your Dublin personal trainer weighs you on a carpet or on a tiled or wooden floor.
How you position your feet on a scales can also influence weight changes. Your feet should be centred on the scales to get a consistent reading every time and avoid things like putting your hand on sinks or handles to “balance”.
The manipulation of your water intake and hydration levels can influence your bodyweight on the weighing scales. Sports with different weight classes, jockeys, Olympic lifting, boxing, MMA and Powerlifting are sports where athletes manipulate their hydration levels prior to their official weigh ins for their events and then compete at a heavier weight.
In the boxing and the MMA world, the leaner the athlete (that is bigger muscle to fat ratio) the more water they can dehydrate from their body for their weigh ins on a Friday afternoon. 24 hours later when they are due to fight, they have replenished their water stores within the muscle, replenished their glycogen in the form of carbohydrates and they step into the ring sometimes up to 9kg heavier than their official weigh in the day before.
There are another 6 reasons, (which you do not necessarily have control over) why you should not solely focus on the weight on the scales.
5). Carbohydrate Intake
A common approach used by a Dublin personal trainer or “weight loss guru” is a 14-21 day bootcamp / detox consists of higher protein intake for the individual than usual coupled with a low carbohydrate nutrition phase at the start of the programme. This can lead to a rapid change in weight loss which is great from a marketing perspective as you will witness this in the social media testimonials but is not a successful long term strategy for your weight loss goals.
Often a rapid weight loss in the initial 14-21 day programme were just signs that the client had edema or had food sensitivities that lead to increased water retention.
How does the elimination of carbohydrates aid weight loss temporarily?
Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen and also in your blood. If there is excess carbohydrates in your system, they can be converted and stored as lipids in your fat tissue. Muscle holds water and 1 gram of carbohydrates can store 3-4g of water. If you are eating more carbohydrates, you will retain more water for a period of time.
So the elimination of carbohydrates leads to a flushing out of your system of water which results in less weight on the scales.
Sounds simple, but here is the problem.
The reduction of carbohydrates may be a useful short term-strategy for weight loss which still is mainly water loss, but long-term, it will lead to a reduction in energy and it will bring your long term weight loss goals to a standstill.
A low carbohydrate diet can also lead to constipation as the elimination of starchy carbohydrates in a low carbohydrate phase reduces your fibre intake.
Many men and women are eager to shift body-weight. The tempting marketing copy of the 14-21 Day Fat Flush makes you eager to jump on a programme in an attempt to lose body weight fast.
As outlined above, the reduction in body-weight during this phase is generally water weight because of the elimination of starchy carbohydrates, like pasta, rice, cereals, bread and potatoes.
Unfortunately, the starchy carbohydrates were acting as a source of energy and also as a source of fibre to aid colon transit time. The elimination of this fibre, can lead to constipation, increase in bowel contents and also a bigger number on your scales which leads to more psychological stress and reduced compliance over the long-term.
The slower your colon transit time or bowel frequency, the higher the risk of retaining toxins within your body as they are not eliminated from your system.
Constipation will naturally leave you feeling heavier and this will be reflected on the scales.
The key is to weigh yourself in the morning, fasted after a bowel movement to get a more consistent average reading of your current weight.
7). Menstrual Cycle
There are many symptoms attributed to Pre Menstrual Tension
One of these symtoms called PMS H “hyperhydration” manifests as water retention, breast tenderness and enlargement, abdominal bloating, and weight gain, and impacts up to 40% of women.
The amount of water a female retains during the month can vary from 3lbs to over 10lbs depending on the stage of her cycle and her current bodyweight. A heavier person may retain more water.
Menstrual cycle weight gain will show up on the scales. This weight fluctuation can affect females differently. In physiological terms, she might lack energy, suffer from pain, migraines, mood swings and sweet cravings.
The increase in weight during this time can also affect her psychologically. Her peers and coach will often witness the weigh in and enquire about her results. The announcement to your peers can often lead to feelings of shame!
The key is to be more conscious of your weight fluctuations during your cycle. This is another reason why a Dublin personal trainer should not use your bodyweight as your sole means of measuring progress.
The side effects of medications can cause D.I.N.D. Drug Induced Nutritional Deficiencies. For example the birth control pill can deplete B vitamins which influence your energy levels, heart medication can influence levels of Co-Enzymne Q 10 which protects the heart. Medication can also lead to fluid retention.
The amount of water retention can vary depending on the person, but also on the type or number of medications and the drug interactions between each of them.
Examples of medications that can lead to fluid retention can be the birth control pill, steroids used in auto-immune disease treatment, and anti-depressants. Tell your Dublin personal trainer what medications you are on and check to see if it effects your bodyweight.
These factors have to be taken into consideration when you step on the scales.
9). Weight Training –
The implementation of a weight-training programme can influence your bodyweight. It is possible for a person’s shape to change without seeing much of a difference on the weighing scales. She can drop two dress sizes after weight training for a period of time yet still be a similar weight on the scales.
Muscle does not weigh heavier than fat. 1lb of muscle weighs the same as a 1lb of fat but muscle tissue is more dense and takes up less space for the same weight.
When we weight train, we create small tears in the muscle increasing blood flow to the targeted area. This blood carries nutrients for repair and to increase muscle protein synthesis. Muscle also holds more water than fat tissue and this is a useful piece of information that is manipulated by coaches for weigh ins in professional boxing and MMA.
10). Frame and Organ Size and Individual Bone Size Differences –
Weight is different due to different body sizes. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “well I’m just big boned” after they weigh themselves. That may sound like an excuse but it can be the case.
We are all different heights and our bone size in length and diameter can vary. The angles of our leg bones can vary and the width of our shoulder and hips mean that our bones cover a bigger surface area. The same can be said with our organs.
The bottom line is that a Dublin personal trainer should not use the weighing scales as your sole source of measuring your progress.
Habits take time to develop and it’s important to measure the behaviours that influence progress, e.g. training frequency, nutrition, hydration and recovery and to track the outcome through a number of different styles of measurement as previously mentioned.
Don’t measure the outcome and not track the behaviours that influence your weight.