Over the past 4 days I decided to put myself out there, to conduct an experiment and share with you just how much one’s weight can fluctuate over the course of 24, 48, 72 hours….

My results: In the past 72+ hours I “gained” 3 pounds; lost 2; gained 1; lost 1; gained 3 and am still somewhere between.  Typically my weight fluctuates between 138-145 pounds in one.given.day. “What? Why so much fluctuation? That’s enough to make one crazy”, you say.  Exactly! Which is why I blogged about “Throwaway Thursday” a few months ago.  While Shakira can tell you that “hips don’t lie;” I’m here to tell you, your scale sure does. And if it’s still your only means of fulfillment; you…will…never…be…fulfilled.

Below is an excerpt from the book Starve Mode by Leigh Peele:
Pretty crappy that we let the scale have this much power over our lives.  Anyway…back to my experiment.  Over the past 3.5 days I weighed myself every few hours; exercised as normal, ate as I always do, and drank anywhere between 3-4 liters of water each day.  Each time I weighed myself I placed the scale in the same area and wore the same thing; undies.

Here is in detail of what occurred; and I took notes along the way with calories and water consumed up to each weigh-in just to add another component.

6:48am – 141.6
1:35pm – 140.0 – post teaching 1 hour cycle + weights class
5:00pm – 142 – 2.5L H2O and 958 calories consumed thus far
9:03pm – 144.3 – 3.5L H2O and 1450 calories consumed; bedtime.
In one day I “gained” 2.7 pounds…..

6:28am – 140.9 – “Look ma; I lost 4 pounds in my sleep!”
1:15pm – 141.2 – post 75 minute leg/abs/interval training session. 548 calories consumed thus far.
5:15pm – 143 – 2.5 liters of water and 1055 calories consumed to this point.
7:34pm – 140.9 – post teaching 1 hour spin class and 1 liter of water consumed.
Total calories consumed 1605

Forgot to weigh myself before bed. In a little over 13 hours I gained 2 pounds and then “miraculously” ended up at the same weight I was at the beginning of the day….

5:08am -140.8 pounds
10:10am – 140.6 post CrossFit workout, 1.5 liters of water and 463 calories consumed.
1:36pm – 141.6 pounds – 1 liter of water and at calorie total of 894 thus far.
7:30pm – 140.3 – post teaching “sweaty weights” class + 2 Liters H2O + 1249 cals thus far
9:50pm – 143.2 – 3.5 liters of water and 1854 total calories consumed

5:40am – 141.4

So; what’s the moral to the experiment? 
Here are a few things that can influence what you weigh on any given day, at any given time.  There’s truly enough factors working against you to never want to weigh yourself again.

Water Weight/Food Weight: Every ounce and every gram that you eat carries water; which carries weight.  Water by itself carries weight. Your protein shakes carry weight. Your super green drink, detox smoothies, mocha frappuccinos carry weight.  Foods that you may be sensitive to, yet continue to eat cause inflammation and thus stores more weight.  The fiber in your food carries additional weight.  Carbohydrates and their glycogen storage process creates and holds water weight. This is why people who go on low-carb diets typically lose a lot of weight in the beginning (it’s mostly water) and not fat loss.  There’s a difference. It’s also why one day/weekend of binging on processed; salted carbohydrates can make you feel bloated and puffy the next few days; especially if you typically don’t consume high amounts of them on a daily basis.

Hormones create water retention: When you train excessively, are under stress at work, can’t sleep, and your cortisol levels are raised; your adrenal glands start to get overstressed which can lead to water retention.  People always relate cortisol with belly bloat, but cortisol can cause you to retain water throughout your entire body and it will show up on the scale as such.

“The more you train; the more you weigh. Training will increase the amount of glycogen and protein storage in the body. This, along with muscle, will increase physical bodyweight without negative changes to body fat and composition” – Leigh Peele.

It’s true.  The weeks that I do CrossFit workouts 5-6 days I typically weigh a solid 145+.  If I were anal about my weight, I’d stop doing CrossFit and working out all together; because as you read above; “the more you train, the more you weigh.”  So, if your goal is to hit some magical number you have created or perhaps weighed in high school and college, then stop working out…but that also means you will probably get to eat less since you are no longer expending additional calories/energy. 

Folks; the scale stops here.  If you’re still not convinced then I’m not so sure I can tell you much more.  Below is a picture from yesterday, at 140.8.  I also went and got my body fat checked yesterday by a trainer using the 7-site skinfold caliper test and it came out to 12.6%.  If I were still focused on the scale, I’d be chasing that magical 131 number; eating less, overexercising and storing body fat but I am doing quite the opposite: eating more, no more extra “just for fun” workouts, and getting Rick to hide the scale again. I’ll rely on body fat; thank you. Not the inconsistencies of the scale I have demonstrated above.

If relying on body fat percentages; find a fitness professional who will measure your body fat percentage every few months. Calculate and track your lean body mass and fat mass and watch those numbers instead.  Ask yourself; “Do I want to lose weight or do I want to change my body shape?”  If your answer is; “I want to change my body shape” then here’s a virtual kiss on your forehead and a “bless you my child, for you have learned something today” from yours truly.

Sources: My own experiment and Starve Mode, by Leigh Peele.