Weight Gain Misconceptions

I’ve noticed that a lot of people with health and diet related blogs have a couple disclaimers throughout the blog, saying they’re not a registered dietician and whatnot. I feel like I should have a couple of those guys here and there, so here’s one: I am not a health professional or registered dietician (I’m only 15!!!) and my advice is not a replacement for that of a doctor, blah blah blah, you get the picture.

With that said, I do know quite a bit about health, and some of the information I have recently learned about weight and gaining weight is quite interesting. So I am about to share some false ideas about this topic that I used to believe, and true information dissolving these anxieties about weight gain.

I actually don’t weigh myself; this would not be healthy for me and would be a source of stress. I find it hard to imagine a girl or woman who wouldn’t actually be happier and healthier if they didn’t weigh themselves. It’s so much better to just leave that task to one’s doctor, and let the doctor decide if you need to lose weight or not. Especially since household scales are often inaccurate anyway. And weighing oneself daily is actually considered obsessive, so this behavior should be avoided. Honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary to weigh yourself at all! However, I know most people aren’t about to just throw out their scale and stop weighing themselves. So, if you are quite attached to that contraption, and do weigh yourself from time to time, read this. These facts may help explain why your weight may be fluctuating up and down as much as 5 pounds a day, maybe even permanently sliding up a bit, and why this is not the end of the world. (You’re looking at me like I just sprouted antlers. I can see through the computer screen that you think I must be crazy. But by the end of this post, I promise you will understand why I say this. It’s not a big deal to creep up a couple pounds on the scale! Really!)

Possible Explanations for Unexplained Weight Gain

1.  Water

It’s extremely healthy to stay hydrated. Drinking at least 32 ounces of water per day is good for your whole body. However, it can also have the side effect of causing your weight to seem to increase. If you have consumed more water on a day when you weigh yourself than you consumed the last time you weighed yourself, your weight could be two or three pounds up, maybe even more. And it doesn’t mean you’ve gained weight or that you look any fatter. Nor is this a reason to stop drinking water! In fact, you can also become bloated and weigh more due to dehydration. How crazy is that?

2. Food

If you weigh yourself after eating you could be as much as five pounds higher than you are on an empty stomach. Does this mean you’ve gained five pounds off of eating your last meal? Not at all, it simply means the food is in your stomach being broken down to be absorbed by the bloodstream as nutrients. If you weigh yourself the morning after having a heavier dinner, your weight could still appear to be up. This happens because the sodium in food causes your body to hold onto water. It’s not permanent weight or any fat on your body at all, and nothing to be concerned about because it will go away as soon as your body processes all the nutrients from the food.

3. Muscle Gain

If you do a lot of working out, such as running, yoga, or any kind of regular exercise, you are building muscle. How this works is fat cells convert to muscle cells. When fat converts to muscle, it becomes more dense and compact. So, it takes up less space, but weighs more. Muscle takes up less space than fat, so you get smaller and more fit as you build muscle. Muscle gain takes time, but once you start to achieve results you will be firmer and stronger. People who are building muscle may see a slight increase in their weight.

4. Growing

If you’re a teenager like me, or even in your early twenties, you may still be growing taller. This is natural and healthy, I mean, who doesn’t want to be tall? Speaking as a 5 foot, 1.5 inch midget, tall is good. When you’re short, people tend to think of you as younger and sort of talk down to you, both literally and figuratively. Not that it’s the worst thing in the world to be short, but I imagine it’d be fun to be tall. More height is the last missing piece of the puzzle that I need to make me look like a gorgeous supermodel! 🙂

My point is, if you’re getting taller, you also need to weigh more. Not because you get fatter as you get taller, but because you contain more tissue. For every inch you grow, it is expected by doctors that you would gain 3-5 pounds. These are pounds merely composed of bone, blood and tissue.

5. Just for Girls: The Cycle

You know, the cycle? That embarrassing topic we all had to learn about all through middle and high school in about five or ten different sex-ed seminars? Yeah, well another annoying thing about the cycle (as if we needed another annoying thing associated with it!) is the following: on the days before and during your special time, your weight will often fluctuate up. This is a result of bloating and your body retaining more water than usual. It will go back to normal at the end of your special time.

So as you can see, there are many simple explanations for temporary weight fluctuations. And there are also some good reasons to gain real weight, permanently. All these things are totally natural and healthy. Still, it can be stressful to constantly have to worry about your weight, whether it will be up or down or why exactly it is different from one day to the next. Feeling you have to weigh yourself regularly can be an unnecessary burden, like an extra backpack full of stones that you have to carry around all the time. So why not just let it go? This may sound crazy, but I suggest not weighing yourself for a little while. Maybe you’ll never want to do it again. And that’s totally good and okay. It is possible to survive without knowing exactly how much you weigh at any given second. My reasoning is: if you can’t see the couple pounds different on your body, what does it matter if you have fluctuated up a couple pounds on the scale? The next day you might be down a few pounds. It’s not fat, just water or food or whatever: the human body isn’t perfect, and doesn’t weigh the exact same thing every day. And no one has to know…not even you!

If you do choose to continue weighing yourself, I highly suggest keeping in mind the natural fluctuations I have mentioned above, and the reasons for them. Furthermore, if you are concerned about your weight, it is a good idea to see a registered dietician and/or talk to your regular doctor about it.

I would like to thank my dietician, Kerri Schwartz, MS, RD for helping me get all the information right on this post. I would also like to acknowledge the following sites for a couple extra tidbits of information: MayoClinic.com, Fitday.com, eHow.com, and Ask.com


2 responses

  1. I agree that weighing oneself is deceptive because I always believe what the scale says. I rarely weigh myself.

  2. Thanks for all the good information.

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