The Program: Trouble Shooting in OWL
WHY WEIGHT AVERAGING IS THE WAY TO GO
Guess what? The old saying that the scale doesn’t lie is wrong. Your weight can vary from day to day and even from morning to evening. Learn why and what is a better way to track your progress.
A typical adult’s body contains about 40 quarts of water, but it can safely range between 39 and 41 quarts. Since each quart weighs 2 pounds, your body weight randomly varies across a 4-pound “gray zone.” Thirst and kidney function kick in only when you get to the bottom or top of this zone. Cutting your carb intake to less than 50 grams per day clears a few pounds of extra water—that’s the initial fast weight loss most people experience when they begin Atkins—but it just pushes your 4-pound gray zone that much lower, without narrowing the range. Add to this the 2 to 5 pounds of water that premenstrual women typically retain, and you’ll see why the scale cannot possibly be completely precise in measuring progress when you’re losing, say, 3 pounds of fat per week. Being constipated can obviously also impact your weight day to day.
Unless you wisely interpret what your scale says, it will drive you crazy! Even the newest digital scales suffer from an age-old flaw: they can’t tell what’s in your body with enough accuracy to give you day-to-day guidance on the progress of your diet. Instead, consider these options:
- Don’t weigh yourself at all, focusing rather on how your clothes fit and how well you feel.
- Or weigh yourself once a week—along with measuring your chest, waist, hips, thigh and upper arms—to get a sense of general progress. You’ll almost certainly see weight loss—and inch loss—compared to the previous week.
But we understand that it may be hard not to hop on the scale every morning. So here’s a better idea: weight averaging. Weigh yourself daily—preferably at the same time each day—and record the number in your journal. Each day, take the last three values, average them—you can even do this on your cell phone—and write that down in a second column. This running three-day mean smoothes out much of the random noise. Even better, keeping a running average for the whole week.
Whatever method you prefer, don’t let a scale and a few pounds of water control your mood or sense of self worth.