How often do you weigh yourself? How often do you weigh yourself and get excited if you see a decrease in your weight? How often do you get disheartened and depressed when you see the number go up? As a woman, I know most females have felt like this; but I have no doubt that men can and do feel this way too.
Now I want you to look at the graph below:
See the dots on that graph? Those are the fluctuations of someone's weight over the last month. As you can see the weight drops, increases, and plateaus. This is what weight loss actually looks like.
Weight loss is not linear. It is perfectly normal for your weight to fluctuate on a day-to-day basis. There will be days where your scale weight goes up, just like there will be days where your weight will drop, and there will also be days (maybe even weeks) where your weight will stay exactly the same.
But you know what? That’s okay, because although there are these changes, as you can see from the yellow line running through the graph, the overall trend is going down - and that's what matters. That is long-term weight loss.
Every person's graph will look different. Someone with a lot of weight to lose will probably have more dots trending consistently dow, for a longer amount of time. For example, someone with 60 kilos to lose will most likely lose weight far more consistently than someone with only 10 kilos to lose. In the same way, someone who has 10 kilos to lose will have more dots trending downwards in comparison to someone who has just 2 kilos to lose.
So, what can make your weight fluctuate?
1. Having a big meal late at night. Eating late simply means that less food will be digested by the time you wake up, which may lead to the number on the scale going up.
2. High sodium food or eating a lot of carbs. Boths of these will lead into retaining more water which can lead to the number on the scale going up.
3. Bowel movements (pretty self explanatory I think).
4. Menstrual cycle. Over the course of a month, female hormones fluctuate significantly, which can affect our weight as some of us may bloat more, retain more water and even emotionally eat. So, if you are trying to lose weight, try and control those menstrual cycle cravings and drink plenty of water.
5. Exercise. This can lead to both the number on the scale going up or down. It could go down if you sweat out a lot of water that day. The same way if you had a heavy leg session for example, and ate a decent amount to help repair the muscles, the water from carbs etc...get stored in the muscles post-training, which could lead to the number on the scale going up.
6. NEAT: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Say you usually do 8,000 steps per day and one day you do 15,000 steps: chances are the weight will drop down. The same way if you usually do 10,000 steps per day and then do 2,000 - the chances are the number on the scale may go up.
7. Alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic which can lead to a lot of water loss overnight. However, alcohol can also make us eat very salty foods which could lead to weight gain. Either way, drinking alcohol can affect the number on the scale.
8. Finally food mass. If you eat a lot of high volume foods (vegetables, potatoes, white fish, lean meats etc..) you can eat a much higher volume of food while consuming fewer calories - which is great! If you are in a deficit, you will lose weight - however, sometimes in the short term, eating high volume foods can lead to an increase in the number on the scale simply because you have more food bulk in your stomach. To put it simply, 200 calories in courgettes will weigh a lot more than 200 calories of pizza.
So as you can see, a lot of things could affect your weight from one day to the next, so don't get hung up if you wake up a little heavier one morning.
I also thought I would share below the fluctuations of weight over 6 months:
This graph represents a longer period time of someone's weight loss journey, just to show that sometimes taking a break from losing weight and focusing on enjoying your training, getting stronger and building some muscle is okay. Times like this give people the mental break from trying to achieve a certain aesthetic and can focus on enjoying and living a little more freely.
You can always focus on losing weight, just as you can focus on maintaining your weight, or even gaining weight. There is no right or wrong, you just need to be ready and committed to whatever goal you set yourself. Sometimes work gets so crazy and stressful that dieting isn't realistic. In the same way, some people who want to build muscle but react negatively to weight gain may not be in the position to undertake a 'bulk'.
At the end of the day, pick what is right for you and what you can honestly commit to doing. There is no right or wrong, simply what you can sustain.