No, that does not mean you’re getting fatter.
You’re finally on a fitness plan, after weeks and months of putting it off. You feel good about it, and you’re gearing up for what you expect will be a fruitful outcome. A week’s passed and you’re excited about stepping on the weighing scale. But wait, what’s this? You’ve gained a pound, or even two! That can’t be right. What the ….!
Hold it right there, just breathe and let us explain. While not everyone will experience this little imbalance, it’s not uncommon for your weight to be elevated on the scale when you first start working out. And we know how hard it will be to power through this roadblock, but trust us, stick with the program and you’re sure to see the pounds fall off consistently in due time. Understanding why you’re tipping to the wrong side of the scale will help you stay motivated:
- Water can alter your weight: If you think you kicked ass at that spin class, you probably did. That said, understand that water makes up approximately 65-90 percent of a person’s weight, and variation in water content within the human body can move the scale by 10lb or more, from day to day. Also, this is perhaps the first time you will realize the role water retention plays in the number game. Bloating, dehydration, and skin that dimples and won’t bounce-back, are all tell-tale signs. The resolve? Ironically, you need to drink more water to regulate water retention.
- An intense workout increases your weight: Have you ever noticed that right after (or even a day or two after) an intense workout the scale goes up? That’s normal, and it doesn’t mean you’ve put on weight. Intense workouts can cause variability on the scale due to inflammation from muscle damage repair (we call this delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMs). That burning pain you get in the initial days of working out; that!
- Muscle replaces fat: A pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle, however the volume of muscle is denser than the volume of fat, and therefore heavier. When you start to change your body composition with your workouts—by building more dense muscle mass and decreasing your body fat—your scale weight may increase, while your body fat percentage may decrease.
- The scale says nothing about your fitness levels or body composition: If someone is trying to get healthy, they should ignore the scale and pay more attention to objective measurement tools like body composition. While weighing yourself can be one way to track your progress, it shouldn’t be the only way. And it certainly isn’t worth obsessing over with daily weigh-ins.
If you suspect you are likely to get disheartened by this weight gain, our advice is to steer clear of the scale for the first two weeks. Give your body and muscles enough time to adjust to the new stress they are being subjected too, and normalize and regulate on all levels to represent a true picture of your current health.
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