A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Unexpected weight gain

on March 12, 2014

I can remember starting Weight Watchers and visiting the 100 pounds to lose boards for support and general know how and seeing people post over and over about how they’d gained X pounds this week or hadn’t lost and just didn’t know why. Naively, I would smugly think to myself that they just weren’t being honest in their eating or tracking or activity or something because this is just math, right? If you’re burning more than you take in, you will lose. I floated along in this sea of ignorance for my first few months, with steady losses, until the day came when I stepped on the scale and saw a 3 pound gain. I sat through the rest of that WW meeting frantically reviewing my log and thinking back to figure out what happened. It was very foundation-shaking to realize that it is not always “just math” – our bodies are ornery and gain and lose weight for all kinds of reasons.

So why isn’t the scale cooperating when you’re doing everything “right?”

– For me that week, the culprit was soy sauce. My husband and I had gone out to dinner on Friday night at a hibachi place and while I had the points for what I ate, I didn’t factor in the massive amounts of sodium in the food. The week after that gain, I “lost” 7 pounds. I didn’t really lose 7 pounds – I “lost” the 3 pounds of water retention the soy sauce got me the week before, plus 4 pounds of actual weight loss over those two weeks. This kind of weight gain isn’t real weight gain (although definitely keep an eye on sodium intake for overall health), but it can screw with your head. I honestly tend to avoid salty foods on Friday night just for this reason, ever since that day.

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– Another thing I’ve noticed that will cause a temporary gain for me would be an increase in my carbohydrate intake, especially refined carbohydrates like cake or cookies or bread. This is probably due to the carbohydrates replenishing my muscular glycogen stores and glycogen loves to hang onto water. This is the reason you lose so much weight in the first week on a low carb diet and regain that weight so quickly as soon as you stop eating low carb! Aside from my massive fruit intake, I tend to eat fairly low carb so my weight swings a lot any time I do indulge.

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– A lot of people report increases in weight (or at least a stall in weight loss) when they increase their physical activity. You may see these if you’re doing newly strenuous activities because your muscles get a little swollen when they’re asked to do new things and any extra water = bump in the scale. This is especially true if you have an actual injury with swelling.

– Constipation. I think nothing more needs to be said there, right? (A lack of water weight gain, as opposed to all of these other water gains)

– Hormonal swings can cause weight gain for a lot of women. I didn’t notice this personally until I went off the pill and now I know that week is guaranteed to have a couple of extra pounds on the scale. Thankfully, this is temporary and disappears in the following week. This is a good reason to weigh in every week because you start notice those patterns and thus do not freak out too much if you notice a gain the same time in every month.

– Poor sleep can make it harder to lose weight, even if you’re doing everything else right (changes the hormones that control our blood sugar and hunger levels, among other things) so if you’re in a busy, sleepless time you may notice that your weight loss stalls or even reverses during that time period.

– This one may seem crazy and may only be true for me, but I know my mindset can seriously skew what the scale shows. I told you guys about how I miraculously “lost” 4-5 pounds literally the DAY I decided to change my goal weight at Weight Watchers (and those pounds have stayed gone). This week, I noticed my weight creeping back up to 166-167 and decided to reinstitute my no fruit after dinner rule just to keep things in check until I’m back to my normal running routine. Again, the day after I made that decision, the following morning my weight was back down to 163. Anytime I get too fixated on hitting a certain goal weight on a certain week, I’m guaranteed to have a bizarre gain. The scale is possessed, I swear.

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In general, when you see a gain on the scale, look back at your week. Did you really do what you needed to do? If you did, take a deep breath and know that undeserved gains happen. Thankfully, undeserved losses do too. The scale is just one way to measure success and we need to try to take the bad days in stride. I’m not saying I don’t still get a little panicky when the scale jumps for no reason, but I am getting better at talking myself out of my crazy tree. 🙂

What things have you noticed that cause undeserved, unexpected gains?

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7 responses to “Weight Loss Wednesday: Unexpected weight gain

  1. Fantastic post. IT is SO easy to get caught in a specific number, and being too emotional to be able to look objectively at the problem to find the solution. I love that you found the solutions! To be honest, I had no idea that sodium could be such a culprit in the science of weight-loss. I’ll be definitely keeping that in mind in my future meals!

    • Salt can definitely screw with your weight temporarily! It made it weird when I was doing half marathon training, because I needed to up electrolytes before the long runs and I had to remind myself that water retention was the goal there rather thana problem. 🙂

      On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 7:36 AM, A Little More Each Day wrote:

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  2. I don’t weigh myself often, but if I see a big difference for no reason I usually attribute it to water retention or hormonal changes.

  3. leannenalani says:

    Oh that’s a great question. I deserve a gain this week but I can remember all the times when a WI showed an unexpected gain – Usually this would involve me thinking I had lost weight and thinking I looked like I lost weight, simply to find that the scale disagrees. Why? That’s always been a tough one. Unexpected sodium makes a lot of sense. I hadn’t considered refined carbs as something that would bring about a gain, though.

    • They definitely screw me up on the scale. I always thought it was just in my head until I started reading about the weight gain you should expect when tapering and carb loading for long races and realized maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. 🙂 Really, I primarily avoid carby things because they make me feel hungry and binge-y.

      On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 1:28 PM, A Little More Each Day wrote:

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