Weight Loss Roller Coaster

Studio Gym Serving Rockwall and Rowlett“It’s an emotional roller coaster some days.”

About 8 years ago, I worked with a woman who was in the process of trying to lose about 50lbs and seemed more emotionally drained than physically drained from her weight loss journey.

Let me give you some background here:

She was in her late 40’s (not menopausal), about 5’6″ and weighed 180lbs.

She had already lost 20lbs on her own through “reducing carbs” in the forms of breads and cereals, in addition to getting about 10,000 steps a day for a few months.

She had just started some weight training prior to us talking with somebody pump classes at the local big box gym.

She was doing some good things but cutting out some food and walking more.

Now here is where the problems start.

She would weigh herself every morning and determine how much she would eat off what her scale said. She had done this for her first 20lbs

Her rule was, if she lost a pound, then she would continue eating the way she had the day before; but, if the scale went up, then she would eat less food than the day before.

What she would notice is about 2-3times a week the scale would go up even when she hardly ate any food.

She felt defeated on those days like her effort was for nothing, then she would binge, be mad at herself for binging, and start over the following day.

She has felt like she stalled with her weight loss for the past 6 weeks with the scale maybe only going down by 1 pound in that time.

In her words, “I’m just tired, I feel like I hardly eat anything, and the scale just gives me the middle figure; it screws with me more than my ex-husband.” (I lol’d at that) “I just want to get down to 150, but I’m beginning to think that maybe I’m not meant to.”

Ok, I see what’s going on here, and maybe you do too.

After reading this, what do YOU think is happening? There is a lot going on here, but why do you think the scale is going up and down and what would you tell her to do?

Reading over this, do you have an idea of what you think is going on?

Think about it for a sec then scroll down for the answer.
Answer: Water weight fluctuations from inconsistent eating.

This is WAY more common than you realize when it comes to you, or anyone, starting a weight loss journey.

The human body is mostly comprised of water, anywhere from 45-60% depending on the person and, and the amount of water can vary significantly from day to day.

It’s common to see a 1% or more fluctuation in scale weight in the form of water a day. Using this person as an example, when she weighed 200lbs on average, she would notice a 2lb or more difference on the scale each day just in water.

We are not even factoring in glycogen, waste, food in the gut, etc… and when you factor those, it’s not uncommon to see a 3% fluctuations a day. So for her, it could change anywhere from 1-6lbs a day.

This is what gets people, beginners especially, it’s a mind f–k if you’re chasing scale loss.

What got her was that when the scale changed, she didn’t know specifically WHAT changed.

When she saw a drop in the scale, was it that she lost fat? Water? Muscle? Poop? <== yes seriously.

Side Note: this may sound gross, but it’s not uncommon for the average person to carry about 10lbs of waste in their system. I’ve read autopsy reports of some individuals carrying over 40 to even 50lbs of waste. Think about that for a second… 50lbs of crap. SMH. Now obviously the health of a person has a great influence over this.

Now combine that, the body’s natural weight fluctuation with water, with an inconsistent diet such as eating low cal for a few days followed by a high cal binge and the weight fluctuations are magnified.

Think about you eating great for a week or two, then you have an off weekend, and the scale shot up by 10lbs or more. That’s an example of how a drastic change in diet can alter the number on the scale. You know you didn’t gain 10lbs of fat over the weekend but instead, you are holding onto some water, food waste, glycogen, and more.

With this person, that is what was happening. A few days of eating great then binge followed by a gain water weight, food weight, waste, etc. Then she would respond by going ultra low cal again.

What We Did.

To fix this, we did three things:

  1. Made her stop weighing daily and only allowed her to weigh once a week. We made this every Monday to keep her from binging on the weekend.
  2. Got her eating more consistent with her eating, which minimized the weight fluctuations. Your body loves consistency.
  3. Used a tape measure each week in addition to the scale. There were a few times the scale would not change, but she lost inches.

Not going to lie, some of those changes were hard for her since she is a creature of habit; she loved routine. It took her about 3 weeks of consistency of not weighing in daily, fighting the urge to eat so few calories followed by high-calorie days, in addition, using the tape measure. After 3 weeks, she lost over 5lbs, and her weight steadily dropped every week after that; she ended up getting down to 157lbs and was quite happy there from her 200.

What you should do.

If you feel like your in the same boat, then follow these recommendations:

  1. Stop weighing daily this only messes with your head.
  2. Get consistent with your eating.
  3. Use something else to track your results besides the scale. Technology has come such a long way that even getting a scale with bodyfat tracking is better than just the scale by itself.



In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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