Saturday, October 17, 2009

Flipping Out Doesn't Help

For the last couple of days, my weight has been at a standstill. It makes no sense, really. I'm eating clean, I've eaten 1700 calories or less every day this month (in fact, many days closer to 1500), I've been exercising more than before. Three days ago my weight popped up from 236 to 237 for no apparent reason. Maybe my turkey soup was too salty, who knows? Maybe that one slice of birthday cake is making its ghostly presence known. But I walked, I biked, I ate clean, I drank water. Yesterday I was sure the scale would reflect a change, but 237 stared me in the face yet again in the morning.

So yesterday I ate healthy. I walked a bit. I took my son to the doctor and then stopped at the pharmacy for his medicine on the way home. When I came out to the parking lot, the sun was setting. I turned the key. My car made the most hideous sound. It sort of chugged a bit and turned back off. It was the chug of death. Nothing would get that car to start and stay started. I checked fluids, and the battery was fine. Ahhh. What to do? Late on a weekend, who can I call to come get me? And then I decided to walk home.

And walk home I did. Something I have never done before in the more than a dozen years I've lived here... I walked the (uphill) mile and a half home from "town." It was actually quite a pleasant walk. I'll have the car towed to the shop today. I'm pleased I did not have to inconvenience anyone to come get me nor did I have to wait 45 minutes for a bus. It was simple. I just walked home. It was no big deal. What a change from the absolute panic and despair I'd have gone through had this happened two years ago.

Got home, ate soup. Figured, yeah, I am mid-cycle, but I have eaten so well and I got in some great exercise (30 minutes walking Thursday and 30 minutes biking Wednesday) so I will surely see the scale drop tomorrow. I weigh daily. I have an accurate scale and I know my body, and while *some* people do not see results for days or weeks, I almost always see whatever I ate reflected on the scale within a day or two.

This morning? Still 237. What kind of weird plateau is this? Well, I don't really care. It's not like I am going to change the way I am eating or exercising because of what the scale says. Oh, don't get me wrong, I used to be that way. I'd get on the scale and if I didn't lose a pound I would get mad and eat a pizza. And then I *really* wouldn't lose a pound. What the heck is the point of that? Overeating and giving up because you don't like some random number a machine is spitting out at you? What about the way you feel? What about your quality of life? If your kid has a tantrum one morning do you haul them to the orphanage and say "I quit! This isn't what I expected!"? If your dog tracks mud in the house do you go have him put to sleep? Come on! You cannot just QUIT because one little thing isn't going how YOU would like it to go IDEALLY. You have to understand that this is for life. Really. Embrace it. I know that's why some people don't weigh at all, or very infrequently. (That makes me nuts.) For me, I like the way daily weighing takes the edge off the results. "Oh, it's just one of 365 numbers I will see this year. Big deal." As long as I see a downward trend over weeks and months, that's what counts. That's how I know I am "doing it right."

So the scale says 237, and I shrug and think, "well, that makes no sense. Guess the ol' bod is checking to see if I mean business. I'll see a big drop in a couple of days." And I go have my healthy breakfast. I exercise. I'm still happy. I don't flip out. It wouldn't help.

There is something to be said for being a bit non-reactive to the numbers as long as you are confident your plan will work long-term. If you see a plateau, so what? You're not gaining. Tweak the plan if the plateau lasts, say, a month. But these daily variations are as much a part of life as birds singing and pooping. The ebb and flow of life. Don't let it get to you.

Now I am off to make some eggs for breakfast. Eggs go great with zucchini, you know. Try it sometime!


Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

I am working on not flipping out when I see a flucuation in the scale - for me if I weigh in every day it's dangerous... because than I will go have that bag of chips etc. But I so love your philosphy - don't flip out, I am so borrowing that from you - thanks for sharing!!!

Vickie said...

this is such a ME thing to say - but this is how my mind works - what was IN (salt/additives) the soup?

Lori said...

Hey Lyn,

Just wanted to let you know that I gave your blog and Honest Scrap award, since you are always so very open.

You can see it here:

spunkysuzi said...

That's the exact reason i put the scale away until the end of the month. It would go up and down for no reason and it was playing games with me :)
This month i feel healthy, i've eaten great and i have no guilt!
I also have no idea how much i weigh!

Anonymous said...

I went six weeks without losing a pound but I didn't let that deter me. I lost lots of inches in that same period. Maybe you are getting more muscular these days! You are right though, quitting never did anyone any good.

Keep at 'er

Susannah said...

Hi Lyn, I always seems to float around the numbers when I am just about to drop into new "territory". Right now I am fluctuating between 180.7 and 181.6, all the while eating clean and small and exercising. I want to tell my body, "Come on, it's okay to slide into the 170's! Sure, we haven't seen the 170's in decades but don't be scared!" hee hee! But I am cultivating an attitude like yours and looking at the big picture. Thanks for a timely post and congrats on your walk home. Hope the car can be fixed easily and cheaply!

GRAMEE said...

I think this is a good reason for not weighing in so often. I think everyone should weigh 2 times a month. and neither of the times should be in the middle of your cycle!!

Lyn said...


the soup was homemade (turkey, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, herbs) and the only thing I can figure would be an issue is salt. I overdid the salt just a bit on this soup, LOL.

Diana said...

I love your attitude. I'm like that most days but this week I went crazy and honestly, a little depressed. But everybody has those days and I just have to remember that daily fluctuations are normal and no, I didn't really gain two pounds in a day. :)

Andra said...

Ah, the dreaded plateau! I'm in one now, stuck at 190 and really wanting to move into the 180's. But I'm still eating clean, working out, being generally active when I'm not actually working out. My new pants are already getting larger, which tells me so much more than the scale does. Keeping at it like you, Lyn and not letting the scale run the show.

Anonymous said...

If you are eating at a calorie deficit (which, at 1700 calories per day, you definitely are) but still getting sufficient fuel and nutrition, you are losing fat. Regardless of what the scale says, you are losing fat. Period.

Autumnforest said...

I can't help but think of those professional weight loss folks on Biggest Loser (professional because they basically get to leave their lives and do weight loss only with no distractions) and how they can do 4-6 hours of workout a day and super low calories and stand on the scale and have a big fat zero for the week. It happens. Your body adjusts at certain times to the new way of being, so sometimes just mixing up that way of being throws it back into another downward slide. It tries hard to find a way to hang onto the weight. All systems tell it "keep things the way they are" so that's what happens. Soups in general are high in salt, so the water retention can be bad. Honestly, until I started dropping more carbs out of my diet, I retained water like crazy. Those folks on Biggest Loser, when they shed 14 pounds in a week-that's total water weight. Giving up carbs does that to you--really stops the retention of fluids in the tissues. So, watch your salt and carbs and do the unexpected--like your uphill walk. I can guarantee you'll see the change. This is a learning process where you figure out how your body reacts to certain foods, certain situations, certain schedules... Once you've become acquainted with your body, you'll know what works and what doesn't. It takes us all a long time to study our eating habits and activity and figure out what makes our bodies do what they do. It's different for each person. So, don't get on yourself, just be a good observer. Just think of how many less pounds you had to tug up the hillside--that's what I do. When I feel frustrated, I hold the amount of weight I lost and walk around and realize how much my bones appreciate that loss.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lyn,

Long time lurker but I don't comment very often. First, let me just say how much I absolutely love your blog. You're honesty is refreshing and you really put words to what I know so many of us feel everyday. Since you have lost weight throughout your journey but hit plateaus every now and again, have you ever thought about lowering your calories? By no means do I think you need to follow what other diets do but I know a lot of diet plans think 1200-1300 calories is sufficient for a female (even females who exercise). Just a thought. Again, I love what you are doing on this blog. It inspires me so much!

DownsizingDoc said...

I absolutely love your blog. Been catching up - your post on Living and the description of the wonders all around us was one of the best I've seen. Spoke to me on a deep level - something I truly believe but easy to lose that inner knowledge.
The scale doesn't tell the whole story - I think even weighing once a week can be inaccurate for whats really going on. Good for you for putting a daily weight in perspective. I see so many who weigh in (daily or weekly) and let a small gain totally freak them out. And get estatic with a small weight loss. Your blood pressure and temperature fluctuates multiple times during the day.....and so does weight. There are so many things that effect weight - fluid shifts, gain in muscle mass, TOM, and those WTF who knows type of things. Medically multiple weight checks are only necessary for those in heart or kidney failure - and thats to monitor fluid retention. And I agree - avoiding carbs can give a large wt loss - all fluids.

Sorry for the long comment - esp on a Sat. Have a Good weekend.

MissyM said...

My scale seems to be stuck at around the same number.Strange.....
I got so aggrevaited the other day that I actually flipped the scale off. I surprised myself by doing that but I think I was fed up with the same dang number day in and day out. So I wont flip out, just flip off.

Shhh said...

It's when the scale isn't moving, and I've been doing everything right, that I find my body SHAPE changes the most.

Have you taken measurements?

NewMe said...

Lyn, Please read "Why the Scale Lies" and stop freaking out.

Leslie said...

Hi Lyn,
Just got around to reading this today. I've had to give up weighing at all for a bit, because it was becoming my be all and end all, as well as the determinant of my worth! Really nuts. I've been posting about it a lot, and giving up weighing is beginning to help me stop eating according to the scale. Just a thought. You're doing fantastic.

100togo said...

Water can cause daily fluctuations that don't really mean much. You are doing so well .... be encouraged!

Georgia Mist said...

I think it's BIG mistake to weigh every day. Your body is going to fluctuate each and every day -- you never get a true, clear picture.
Weigh in once a week, same day, same time and you'll get a much better idea of your true weight... and your stress level will go down, too!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I tend not to flip out over a bad number, but I do sometimes get discouraged when things slow down and nothing happens. So I'm saving your post in my RSS reader to read again on those occasions!

My number is up today (salt, plus more carbs than usual) after taking yesterday as a free day, but should drop again as I eat normally.

I like the accountability of daily weighing, it's too easy to let myself slip out of good habits if I'm not checking that number. Stretch jeans do LIE!

Anyway, I always think one should have more than one progress measure. I keep a tape measure handy. And I watch improvements on exercise, when I'm doing that. Or blood pressure, resting heart rate, that kind of thing. You can see improvement elsewhere when it's not always present on the scale.

Anonymous said...

You are doing great, I just wanted to suggest, if you haven't already to go to your dr and have a check-up, get your thyroid checked.

purple_moonflower123 said...

Totally needed this today. Scale has not moved all week, but I know that eventually it will.

Vickie said...

Lyn - there was probably salt in the turkey too. Even if you cooked it - has salt.

And I think that can make a 3-5 lb difference in the scale.

Vickie said...

And for my little scientic mind thinking that always likes to know the variables and then the outcome -
what happened with the cake?

Were you able to have your tiny one piece and then let it go - with NO fall out?

Or did you have to fight it (like did the rest of the cake haunted you from the kitchen)?

Or did you do okay with the cake but then had WANT problems with other things?

I have some things that I CAN have a few bites with NO fall out and other things (that STILL after all this time) I can't get anywhere near (my husband has to keep Rye bread in the upstairs refrigerator and then toast/eat it when I am not in the house. . .)

Vickie said...

loved what Autumnforest wrote

Melissa said...

I just wrote a blog about this very thing. I read Flat Belly Diet book & it was good & all, but i didn't do the actual "diet". BUT there was a page about that darn scale & what it really means & i swear, it set me free from giving up when i don't see the scale move the way i want it too!
this is the blog i wrote recently- i know you can't possibly read everyone's blogs, but i just had to put the link b/c i wrote it on the same thing. :) Thanks!

Emma said...

Totally needed to hear that today. I'm actually putting away my scale this week and focusing on how I feel and listening to my body. Thanks again lyn for a timely post! you rock! (and have inspired me to start my own blog :))

TC said...

I am SOO frustrated right now because I am stuck STUCK at the same weight for a MONTH. Yup four weeks. How's that for a plateau? I think my plateau has a plateau. I have been working out nearly every day for at least 1/2 hr not including sit-up time. I don't snack or binge on fatty/salty foods either! But, like Lyn, I'm not flipping out. Just feeling frustrated and keeping on. Eventually the scale has to move! Right? Right.

Lyn said...


thank you for the award! That's very thoughtful, I appreciate it!


Yes, I take measurements about every ten pounds OR once a month, whichever comes first. If I get discouraged that is a great way to see that changes ARE happening :)


Thank you for the link, I believe I have read that before. The point of my post though is how I am no longer flipping out about the scale like I used to earlier in my journey. Because I am doing this for life, and not for a "number," it just doesn't affect me that way anymore.


I've played around with calorie levels quite a bit over the past 2 years, and if I go too low I stop losing weight. I lose best on about 1600-1700 when I am exercizing, 1500ish when I am not exercising much.

Georgia Mist~

It's funny how everyone has to come to some kind of peace with the scale. Some folks never weigh but at the doctor's office, some once a week, etc... Over the last couple eyars I have tried it all, and when I am not weighing daily the number seems to freak me out. By weighing daily is has become just a number to plug into my weight loss chart so I can SEE those meaningless daily fluctuations. This is really what has helped me stop flipping out over the scale.


Yeah, I did have my thyroid checked etc, everything looked normal.


The cake didn't bother me. I didn't seem to have any after effects or cravings from it. I've blogged very honestly (and Twittered) all my food and it's been fairly clean... and it hasn't been a battle at all. I feel like a whole new person :)

Yes, the scale WILL move eventually! We just have to hang in there. Thank you ALL for the great comments!

My Own Two Feet said...

Thank you for posting this! Too often I see people not lose one weight and then flip out and change everything.

Consistency and good decisions yield results.

You are a shining example of that. And I know the scale will move soon. :)


liz said...

For Heaven sake weren't you just 245 a few days ago?? You are doing great. Enjoy the progress you are making, I'm impressed.

Heather said...

This is why I think weighing yourself daily can be damaging. There are so many factors: bloat/water weight, what you ate that particular day, how it sits in your system, muscle gain, whether you've used the bathroom, and heck, even the particular scale. I've seen my weight fluctuate 1-5 pounds in one day. Have you ever considered using the scale only once a week? I think sometimes it's more harmful than helpful.

Heather said...

that is the story of my life right there! every day I do little things that I think will end up showing a loss on the scale. nope. sometimes I see a loss but then a gain, so it a wash really. its hard, but you are right, you just have to know that the healthy things you do really are making a difference in your life even if the scale is not one place that reflects that hard work.

moonduster said...

I weigh almost daily too. And I occassionally have mini-plateauxs, or days when my weight jumps up for no explicable reason. Sticking to it is always the right choice.

happyfunpants said...

I am just now getting caught up on my blogs via Google Reader. And I posted earlier this morning about this exact same thing...that basically, the numbers don't mean as much to me as they used to.

It was great to read your post and to feel the same way.