Q. I recently bought a really good scale and I weigh myself every morning. Some days, when I think I should have lost weight, the scale says I gained two pounds. How could that happen? Whats going on..?
A. The scale weighs not just changes in body fat, but also changes in body water and intestinal content. Hence, body weight generally fluctuates one or two pounds daily (depending on if you are constipated, have diarrhea, ate a salty meal that retains water, are bloated pre-menstrually, etc.).
Do not expect your body to consistently weigh, lets say, 120 pounds but rather vary within a range between 118 and 122 pounds. Many factors affect water-weight. These include:
hormonal shifts that occur not only premenstrually, but also if you are stressed or over-tired.
salty foods, such a Chinese dinner or a bag of popcorn.
hot weather or a hot environment.
When you overeat carbohydrate (pretzels, cookies, frozen yogurt, raisins, bagels, pasta, etc.), you store about three ounces of water along with every ounce of carbohydrate in your muscles. Water weight quickly comes, and quickly goes. It is not permanent. It is not body fat. You should not let this normal fluctuation depress your mood for the day.
Rather than weigh yourself every morning, I suggest you weigh yourself only once a weekor better yet, not at all! The scale rarely tells you anything you do not already know. If you feel thinner, if your clothes are looser, and if people are even commenting that you look leaner, then you have lost body fatdespite the number on the scale.
Rather than starting each day by weighing yourself, how about starting each day by smiling at yourself in the mirror and appreciating your body for all the wonderful things it does to help you live a fulfilling life? That sounds more fruitful to me!
Just about every day, I counsel a client who is trying to stay away from carbs. That is, they try not to eat bagels, sandwiches or a starch with dinner (pasta, rice, potato). When I ask why, they report carbs are fattening or a waste of calories. False.
Carbs are not fattening; excess calories are fattening. In fact, the conversion of carbs into body fat is a tough conversion; your body preferentially burns carbs for fuel. (Fatty foods, in comparison, easily convert into body fat.) Carbs offer the fuel you need to enjoy exercise. Active people who fail to eat carbs as the foundation of each meal end up fatigued and failing to enjoy their exercise program.
Wholesome carbs like oatmeal, whole what bread, and brown rice offer important nutrients, but so do refined carbs like white bagels and pasta that are enriched with b-vitamins and iron. The government guidelines suggest half your daily grains be whole grains, but half can be refined, if desired. That is, if you have white bread for lunch, you can balance it with brown rice for dinner.
Sarah, a 45 year old fitness exerciser, office manager and mother of two hungry teenage athletes, complained about cookie temptations. I feel surrounded by my kids cookies; this makes it hard for me to lose weight. I inevitably end up eating as many as they do .
When you are tired, stressed and surrounded by cookies (or other treats), the challenge of moderating your food intake increases. I suggest Sarah ask her kids for their support by keeping their snacks out of sight, such as in a cupboard, instead of on the kitchen counter, or in a ceramic cookie jar, rather than a see-through plastic container. She could also ask her kids to not eat cookies in front of her. As the saying goes: Out of sight, out of mind!
Some weight-conscious parents stop buying cookies altogether, believing their kids get plenty of sweets and treats outside of the home. You can discuss this option with your children, but recognize this approach fails to teach you how to come to peace with cookies. Will you simply binge-eat cookies the next time they do wander into your sight? (You know, Last change to eat cookies, so Id better eat them all now !!!)
The alternative is to allow yourself to eat one or two cookies every day at lunch or snack as a part of your calorie budget. This way, you do not feel denied or deprived, nor have you over-indulged. By planning this treat into your food plan, you may be better able to eat just one cookie at lunch--instead of the whole bag at night. Ultimately, fiding peace with cookies is more effective than taking them out of your diet.
If you need help with healthfully integrating cookies and treats into your food plan, consult with a sports dietitian. The referral network at www.SCANdpg.org can help you find a local expert.
Many health-conscious athletes grumble and complain about fast n fatty chain restaurants. But how many of them go on to offer realistic menu improvements? Not many. Yet, customer feedback is important. Case in point: Starbucks. On the Starbucks website Starbucks website, you can post your comments, complaints, and suggestionsand the Starbucks' staff actually reads them!
Starbucks customers have asked for selections with no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or dyes, no added trans fats, and more fruits and vegetables. So Starbucks now offers: banana bread thats one-third banana; fruit smoothies (rather, Vivanno Smoothies) with one whole banana, whey protein, skim or 2% milk (your request) and real strawberry puree (as opposed to strawberry-flavored high fructose corn syrup). Other health-friendly menu items include cooked oatmeal, a tasty yet petite scone for 140 calories, an individually wrapped gluten-free orange cake (delicious!), salad with almonds and cranberries, and light mayo for sandwiches.
Yes, Starbucks does offer treats; their customers like treats. But Starbucks is keeping the vast majority of their food and beverage offerings under 500 calories, with less saturated fat and more natural ingredients. Why, 500 calories per meal is what I recommend to my active clients who want to lose weight! So yes, even dieters can eat out and not blow their calorie budget.
My message is, if you want to see changes for the better in the American Food Supply, speak up, send letters and emails, and state your requests for changes. Yes, even you can make a difference!