Everybody lies. That’s what Dr. House always says. And the scale is no exception. We’re all so wrapped up in losing weight, gaining weight, what we weigh, what he weighs, what she weighs… and the scale is not a great judge of health.
I’m not saying it’s meaningless. It can be a good baseline. And I’d be a hypocrite if I said that I didn’t enjoy seeing that number drop on the scale. If someone asks me how much I lost, I’m happy to report, “Thirty-one and a half pounds!”
But one can get obsessed with the scale. It’s not a good idea to think of the scale as a friend. It can be a back-stabbing bitch.
I weighed 6.5 pounds more yesterday morning than I did Saturday morning. Granted, I ate and drank and drank and ate with abandon, didn’t exercise that day, and didn’t get any sleep. But I did NOT gain 6.5 pounds.
It takes 3,500 calories to gain or lose a pound. 3,500 calories more than your body needs to gain. 3,500 less than your body needs to lose. If I really gained 6.5 pounds overnight, I’d have to have eaten nearly 25,000 calories. That’s about the equivalent of 50 McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I’m pretty sure I’d have been a lot more sick yesterday if I’d really consumed that much.
A huge jump in the scale like that is not weight gain. It’s fluid retention from too much sodium, too much alcohol and not enough sleep. And it will be gone in a few days. Two pounds of it are gone already. I didn’t do enough damage to gain that weight, and I certainly didn’t do enough positive yesterday to lose two pounds.
I always say that the reasons diets fail is purely psychological. Someone can be doing everything right, then have one day where they binge a little, then see a big leap on the scale. It’s a temporary gain, but that person will think, “I blew it. I’m a failure. I can’t do anything right.”
Life throws a lot of obstacles are way. Sometimes they’re in the form of closed roads, sometimes they’re jello shots and potato chips. Either way, you just have to look at it as a detour.
If you were driving to the beach, and you missed a turn, took the wrong exit, or came upon a closed road, you wouldn’t say, “Screw this. I’m going home.” You’d check your map or GPS, maybe pull into a gas station and ask for directions if you’re not a guy, but you’d know you were well on your way, and a little detour is only going to make a slight difference in your arrival time. You’ll get to your destination. Just maybe a few hours later. You’re not going to toss away your weeks of planning, your hours of packing, the hours of driving you’ve already put in, just because the New Jersey turnpike is a cluster-f-word.
A fluctuation on the scale, whether it’s a temporary blip or a three week bender, is no different. You’re well on your way, and it doesn’t matter one hill of seven layer bean dip with tortilla chips if you’re going to get to your destination a few days later than anticipated. In fact, sometime you have the most memorable times getting lost a little on the way.