Scales, Part 2: Are “Fat Days” and “Thin Days” Real?


Weighing yourself can be motivating and depressing — but did you know the number you see on the scale can change almost as quickly as you blink? As the Tony Robbins quote says, if you are weighing yourself day-in and day-out and don’t like the read out, what do the numbers really mean? Why do they make you happy or sad? And last, what are you going to do about it?

All of the factors listed in this graphic, and more, contribute to our body weight:

Some scientists have studied subjects who weighed themselves every hour throughout the day. If you ever had the time to do that, you would see the big changes on the scale even from hour to hour. This is because so much goes into the number on the scale. All of the factors listed on our fun graphic above PLUS so many more determine the weight of your body at any given moment of the day. And, no, not all of it is based on your food intake or quality.

Even if you haven’t been diligent – say, you spent a weekend at BBQs cheating all over the place – “it is not possible to gain 5 actual pounds in one day or one weekend,” says Dana Hunnes, PhD, M.P.H, R.D, senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and adjunct assistant professor at the Fielding School of Public Health. “It is possible, though, to retain 5 pounds of fluid in the body, particularly if you have been eating super clean.”

Experts will tell you to ignore the number you see on the scale simply because of the myriad of factors listed in the graphic. Instead they will caution you to take an average of the last ten or fourteen days. After that, do it again and again and review how that average is changing over time. That’s where the real truth lies.

Be on the lookout for the last in our series on the scale about how to approach your weight emotionally and with success (click here if you missed the first in the scale series).

Happy Fit Day!


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Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching literally thousands struggle with theirs, in 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Today, “FOR” is home to more than 250 clients, 12 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. She is passionate about helping others view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of a 4-5 hard workouts per week to some days getting in her 10,000 steps and her 7.5 hours of sleep and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Now, she believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s only for five minutes a day. Adrien works daily to help clients understand that the three most vital components of any effective fitness program are consistency, sustainability, and fun. Adrien believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and our health and that change, or improvement, is always within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. She believes her vocation is to help Alexandrians learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness and listening to FOR client’s success stories. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Fitness on the Run is Fitness for Life. Combining a focus on strong bodies and strong minds with a robust wellness education program and unparalleled personalized attention, we provide fitness for health, longevity and functionality.

Fitness on the Run
210 N Lee St.,
Alexandria, VA 22314

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