Another week gone by and the chart of my weight just doesn’t go where I’d like to see it go. But that’s okay. Although the line is just under of my starting weight, I definitely see a trend of bouncing up and down, and I expect as time continues that the long-term trend will be downward.

 

It’s not obvious from the chart, but the distance between my target weight at this point and my actual weight is only 2.5 pounds. That could still be a result of water retention, so I’m not going to take the current results as a signal that my current plan is not working for me, but rather that it is. This past week, I took my own advice and focused on increasing my potassium intake and put my exercise plan on my calendar, but I am still having problems with managing my water intake effectively. I had to travel this week to teach a 2-day class, so was compromised by the realities of air travel which can be dehydrating. I was a good geek girl and took my water bottles to class with me each day, but it’s very hard to talk and drink water at the same time.

Next week I have to teach 4 days out of 5, so I will have to devise a better strategy for working in my water intake. The difference is that I will be teaching online rather than in person, so I might be a bit more successful in sneaking in my gulps of water! Or not.

Ok – so the 2.5 pounds is definitely not the end of the world. How do I know this?

Inches matter more than weight

English: A tape measure. Deutsch: Massband

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I measured myself in all the key places last month and measured myself again today. Interestingly, each of my calves was 1/4 inch larger than last month. Now my calves are not the place I put on weight. I have always had nice calves (according to my husband)–not too small and not too big, just right. I did a LOT of walking when I was in China in January, and my theory is that I built up some muscle in my calves as a result. That may account for some muscle weight gain, and in the grand scheme, muscle weight is a lot better to carry around than fat weight. I don’t think it’s a full 2.5 pounds worth, but there’s more mass there than existed a month ago and that has to weight something.

The scale doesn’t measure body composition

English: Graph depicting the distribution of t...

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Just as the scale can’t tell whether my weight went up due to muscle gain or fat gain, it also can’t tell whether it went up due to all the other things in my body. We’re made up of multiple ingredients: fat,  water,  glycogen, protein (muscle), and minerals (in bones and soft tissue). The weight from water and glycogen can change significantly from day to day, and even within a day. Other components can take a month or longer to register noticeably on the scale, but is masked by those wild fluctuations in water and glycogen. One metric related to body composition that I watch is BMI. Some argue that this won’t be accurate if you’re very muscular, but this isn’t my problem. In the last few months, my BMI dropped below 25, which means I’m in the healthy range. I’m still borderline, so it’s no time to slack. My routine is keeping me in line for the most part, and will continue to help me develop long-term habits that will keep me healthy and fit, no matter what the scale says.

It’s the long term that matters

Deutsch: Das Messen des Gewichts ist ein wicht...

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Given this round-up of information, it might seem questionable whether the scale is useful. I think it is, but the numbers it gives should be kept in perspective. It works for me to weigh in daily (when I’m home) because I’m rather obsessed with numbers. And it lets me see if I have an upward trend over multiple days that I need to address, but I can keep in mind that the scale is just a tool, and that it’s not the definitive tool. Some people prefer a weekly weigh in or even a bi-weekly weight in so that they don’t get bothered by the fluctuations that daily weighings reveal. If I look at my chart, I see that on January 14, January 23, and February 5, my weight was hovering just above my target weight. That’s probably the true trend, and there just aren’t simply enough data points yet to see it more clearly.

 

This post is my contribution to the weekly GetHawt blog party.