The Quirks of Training

Help me raise $500 for the homeless through the charity Back on My Feet.
In many of my previous failed attempts to get fit, I became disenchanted with the whole process all because of one thing: the weight scale (no, unfortunately not the one pictured here).old-school-scale For what seemed to be completely indiscriminate reasons, the scale would produce a figure that seemed to dispute any and all efforts I had made during the week. I would venture to guess it is one of the most commonly cited issues people face in sticking with a program.

My own experience this time around has provided some interesting context. Using my Basis B1 watch and MyFitnessPal, I know exactly (within a margin of error) what my caloric deficit is each day. And given that I am coming up on one full month of training, I am starting to see odd patterns in the weight scale that confirm how frustrating it can be.

My rule of thumb for the weight scale is the following: Weigh myself officially every Monday morning. Weigh myself sporadically a couple times during the week (also in the morning to limit external factors such as meals and water weight). Log each one, with Monday being understood as the weight I reference as the “standard”. In the interim, document the caloric deficit I achieve each day, as well as the makeup of the calories consumed.

Based upon the consistency of my caloric deficit over a full week, I would expect gradual weight loss between official Monday weigh-ins. Instead, I have seen a pattern where I drop the two pounds by Thursday or so, according to the unofficial weigh-in. It really freaks me out, as I am not trying to overdo it. But each time, I have stuck to the plan, continued the same caloric deficit, and come Monday morning, I read the same weight I saw Thursday, thereby easing my concerns. It is hard to explain, as I keep up my water intake consistently each day. I have a two theories, though:

  • Water weight may fluctuate much more during the weekend when I am doing much more activity and eating more. During the weekdays, I get the same deficit as the weekend, but I am eating less and working out less (a product of working at a desk for the majority of the day). Subconsciously, I may be drinking more water, even though I tend to think I am not doing so (or the foods themselves tend to include more water than I realize). Additionally, while my weekday workouts are more regulated, in that I do weight training and treadmill time at a gym, it is my weekend workouts that are much longer and organic. I have been doing three to four hour hikes on Sundays and shorter hikes Saturdays. I have no idea what effect that has.
  • My weekday calorie composition is stellar, whereas my weekend calorie composition is only decent. I wonder if there is more weight retention when the food is not as lean. Yes, I know, this question sounds pretty intuitive. It still is worthwhile to figure out on my own, with my own results to analyze.

I cannot say for sure what is happening, but I have been paying close attention to the trend, which has repeated itself for quite a few weeks. My initial thoughts were that I was going to have to scale down my training, if I ended up burning much more than the two pound range a week. And the mid-week unofficial weigh-ins had me convinced such an adjustment would be required. However, each time, it seems like the circumstances have adjusted themselves to keep me in line with my program.

As an aside, it is a nice exercise to re-calibrate my fitness tracker every other week to adjust down my weight (and subsequent assumptions in calculating my BMR). I could do it each week, but I tend to think a two week window keeps me from over-reliance on the scale.

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