Over this past year, I have learned there are 5 pillars which contribute to successful weight loss and what number “pops” up on the scale. The obvious two, diet and exercise, are the pillars most people, including myself, tend to focus on when setting a weight loss goal. However, the other three pillars: stress management, sleep and water intake are just as important.
The human body is over 70% water. So I have found when I’m not drinking enough water, I’m not flushing the toxins out of my body, and when I get on the scale to weigh, I will weigh more. Also, I have found that my body has a tendency to hold water up to a week after I’ve traveled on an airplane, or up to 2 days after I’ve had a hard weight training work out.
I was surprised that sleep could affect the number on the scale. But it does. I have experienced on multiple occasions that when I’m not getting enough sleep, I will either have a gain on the scale, or my weight will be the same as the week before (no change). Then when I get good sleep over the next week, I’ll see at least a 3-pound scale difference week over week.
For me, the hardest pillar to keep in balance is stress management. When I am having a “rough” week at work, I’ve noticed how tempting it is to eat to push myself through a project I may not know how to do. Or I saw I would not plan good meals to take to work. I would eat out, get food at a drive-thru or just skip a meal altogether, letting myself get super hungry and then when I did eat, I would overeat.
The best explanation of the 5 pillars I have found comes from The Keto Reset Diet, a book by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns. I highly recommend the quick read on pages 116 – 135. Understanding that there are other factors (besides diet and exercise) which can contribute to the number on the scale has helped me make adjustments in eating and in my lifestyle. Now when I weigh and the number on the scale is not a number I want, I don’t get discouraged like I used to, start talking to myself about being a failure and give up. I can have compassion with myself and look at how to bring my stress, sleep and/or water intake back into balance for a “better” outcome on the next weigh-in.