You gained three pounds overnight?
You ate that pizza yesterday, or too late last night, or you didn’t make the appropriate strategic mix of carbs and fat and protein, and you just knew you blew it. You are scum. You are weak. Today the scale says you’re three pounds up.
You expected some repercussion, some slow down in your loss this week, but this is ridiculous.
Well, yes, it is. Unless your binge had you eating five days-worth of extra food, that three pound gain was a random fluid gain and not the fat you’re working to lose.
Household scales ought to come with a warning label, and maybe a glass vial of valium, to be broken and administered during these sorts of emergencies.
Transient weight gains are exactly why weight loss doctors suggest putting the scale away. The way we handle these bad scale moments can make or break a weight loss effort. And the effort is hard enough without the emotional challenge.
But a fluid gain is no big deal. Fluids can be gained and lost rather easily. And that is why diet pills and diet program vitamins containing mild diuretics are so darned popular. (The euphoria of a big initial weight loss as soon as you start taking Dr X’s vitamins while following his diet is something you remember and helps to build loyalty to the program.)
But fluid gain and loss have no bearing on your fat gain and loss or muscle gain and loss. And your concern is really about that. You want a healthy ratio of muscle and fat in your body. Total weight is only one measure of your progress, and not always a reliable one.
There are many, many reasons you may be retaining fluids. It may be the amount of salt in your system, or a lack of potassium (eat those cucumbers and melons). It may be you worked out hard, your muscles are sore, and your body is holding water to manage the inflammation in your sore parts. Women often gain and lose several pounds of water each month as part of their menstrual cycle. What you ate may be hard for your body to digest, and the extra fluids are helping you manage that. You may be coming down with a cold or a sinus infection. Do you have arthritis or hayfever? Really any inflammation can trigger fluid retention. You may have been dehydrated. Your body will fight hard to keep water when it’s been starved of it recently. That’s why drinking plenty of water while you’re retaining water is a good idea.
So, your little extra piece of pizza wasn’t likely a good habit to form, but it didn’t put three pounds of fat on your body, either. Breathe deeply, eat your cucumbers, drink your water, and try not to live by the scale.