To Weigh or Not to Weigh?

 This article, written by Cheryl Haas Winter, MS, RD, CDE, MS, APRN, BC-ADM, FNP-BC, originally appeared on

Does this scenario fit you? When you get on the scale to weigh yourself and the number goes down, you scream with joy and accomplishment, but when that number goes up, you have feelings of defeat and wonder what’s the use? 

If so, this is too bad because “weight” is not what you should be measuring to assess your results, and the feelings of defeat only serve to discourage you from continuing your weight loss efforts.

“Weighing” is actually the least effective way to measure your health and your progress. What the scale measures is the volume of blood in your body, the undigested food in your gastrointestinal system, the fluid in your lymph system, the glycogen in your liver and muscles, and other body components that can fluctuate throughout the day and from day-to-day. 

It is quite normal for the amount of fluid in the body to fluctuate. Water actually makes up over 60 percent of the total body mass. Extra weight reflected on the scale in the form of water retention, however, is often what is responsible for the feelings of failure felt by those trying to lose weight.  Although, some water retention is normal, a great deal of water retention can be prevented. 

Ironically, it is actually a lack of water and fluid intake that is contributing to the water retention. Dieters often restrict not just calories but also their fluid intake. This may be due to them omitting calorie-dense drinks, without replacing them with water. When the body is deprived of water it perceives it as a threat to survival, and therefore compensates by conserving water. In addition, if the diet is too high in sodium (like so many American diets), this causes the body to hang on to even more water. Drinking adequate water will help you maintain proper fluid balance and help flush out excess sodium. An adequate amount of water will vary from person to person, but a general guideline is to drink ½ ounce per pound of body weight.

A very common cause of water retention in women occurs just prior to menstruation, and most always disappears as quickly as it appears. Again, this water weight gain can be reduced by drinking plenty of water, avoiding highly processed and high sodium foods, as well as maintaining an exercise program.

Another body component that can tip the scale is the amount of glycogen or carbohydrate that the body stores. The body stores carbohydrate in the liver and in muscles, in the form of glycogen. This storage is important for when one is unable to eat, such as when sleeping, or when exerting a lot of energy quickly and unexpectedly. This reserve of energy (glycogen or carbohydrate stores) weighs about one pound, and has attached with it, 3 to 4 pounds of water, hence the word “carbo-hydrate.” If you fail to consume adequate carbohydrates, as many do when they begin an unhealthy fad diet, your glycogen stores will deplete, and consequently, so will the water that is with it. The body, however, cannot go for very long without adequate carbohydrate so when the body restores its reserve of carbohydrates, its associated water is also restored. Don’t be alarmed by weight shifts of up to 2 pounds per day, even with no changes in your calorie intake or energy expenditure. This is quite normal and has nothing to do with fat loss. Unfortunately, the worse thing it does is create anxiety when the scale doesn’t move in the desired direction.

Don’t forget about the actual weight of the food you eat. If you just ate dinner and your food is undigested, you may as well just be carrying around a bunch of marbles, because the food and drink you just consumed might weigh 4 pounds. This is not fat gain. The message here is not to weigh yourself right after you have eaten because the extra weight is the weight of the food. Instead, weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you have consumed any food or drink, but, remember that the morning weight is also not representative of what we weigh either, because we are actually dehydrated first thing in the morning. The first thing we should do when we awaken is to drink water.

If you still are not convinced that the 4 pound weight gain you managed to put on after your dinner meal is not the weight of the food, think about this: In order to store 1 pound of fat, you need to consume 3500 calories. If the 4 pounds you gained from your dinner meal was stored as fat, this would mean you would have eaten a 14,000 calorie meal—not likely, nor humanly possible!  The same rationale can work in the other direction. In order to lose 1 pound of fat, you need to reduce your intake or increase your activity by 3500 calories. A fat loss of only 1 to 2 pounds a week is realistic, but if you went on a very low calorie diet and lost 10 pounds in one week, this weight loss was not due to losing fat but instead to losing water, glycogen or muscle weight. A ten-pound weight loss in one week would equate to decreasing your calorie intake by 35,000 calories that week—does that make sense? 

In addition to water, glycogen stores and undigested food in the gastrointestinal track, ones weight is also made up of muscle, bones, glycogen stores, organs, and fat, so if we lose weight we could actually be losing any one of these components.  The reality is that the scale can’t tell us what component of our weight we have lost. Unfortunately, what often happens when people go on the wrong type of diet is they don’t always lose fat, but instead, lose valuable metabolically active muscle mass, which ultimately contributes to the decline in fat loss and future difficulty in maintaining a healthy weight.Therefore, one should see a professional, such as a registered dietitian, to help lose weight the right way and to also begin using the right measurement tool to determine success. One such measurement tool is one that measures “body composition,” to give you a percentage of your body’s muscle, as well as fat mass. 

Other than determining your body composition through simple analysis-testing, what is the best tool to measure your weight loss success?  You might be surprised, but the best “weight measurement” tool is—the mirror!  Do you look healthier?  Are you less bloated? The second-best weight measurement tool is your feelings! Your feelings are NEVER wrong. Do you feel better?  Do your clothes feel like they are fitting better?  Are your rings feeling looser on your fingers? Do your muscles feel firmer?  And the third-best weight measurement tool is a change in your lifestyle habits.If you do the right things, more often than not, you will get the results you are aiming for!  If you are eating right, exercising, sleeping well, and managing stress, don’t let a small normal fluctuation in the scale tell you any differently! 

Let’s face it, despite being armed with all this knowledge about what actually comprises our body weight, it is still going to be difficult for we humans to give up our scales. So, if you must use the scale some experts suggest not to weigh yourself for at least two months after beginning a new lifestyle plan, in order for your body to get adjusted to its new style. Again, however, we humans like more immediate gratification. So, if you insist on weighing yourself, do it only once a week, preferably at the same time of the day. In the morning upon awakening is generally the best time of the day because that is when we always weigh less. But, don’t forget—this number on the scale is not the sum of your success!

Learn more about what Cheryl does in the area of weight management in her practice and other product offerings.



Hit the Ground Running

On my calendar is a bright red circle around March 20th. If you, like me, are tired of being stuck in the house due to continuous snow storms and other inclement weather, it’s time to prepare for warmer temperatures, improved weather, and longer days ahead!

What better way is there to enjoy the beginning of spring than by hitting the ground running, literally! Outdoor running can be refreshing and great for a cardio workout, but without the right preparation, technique, and gear, the new spring in your step could also result in injury. Use the tips below as you begin your running season:

Take Your Time: If this is your first time running in a while, doing too much too soon could lead to injury. Learn to pace yourself early, when it comes to how fast you’re running as well as the distance travelled.

Must Be the Shoes:  Unlike running indoors, running outdoors includes being on harder surfaces and at times different terrain. Make sure that you have the right shoe that blends comfortability, durability, and support.

Preventative Maintenance: Stretching is vital when you are preparing for a run. It warms up the muscles that you will be primarily using while you’re running. Also, if a part of your body is quicker to get injured than others, chances are it is a trouble area for you. Strengthening that area can help prevent injury and improve your overall performance.

If you have any other tips or advice on running outdoors, feel free to leave a comment in the box below. 



Avoid These Grocery Store Blunders

Eating smart starts with shopping smart. Take a look at these common shopping missteps, and review the helpful strategies to ensure you fill your grocery cart with sensible solutions instead of calorie-loaded cravings.

Shop when you’re full. You’re more likely to make impromptu, unhealthy food choices when you hear your stomach growling. Eat a healthy meal or snack (like our Crunch O’s, Double Bites or Pretzel Twists) before you go shopping so you’re less likely to cave in to cravings.

Shop with a list. Write down what you need at home when you've got the time to use good judgment and make healthy choices that fit into your meal plan. Then stick to this list once you get to the store.

Beware of bad bargains. Just because the store is running a "buy-one-get-one-free" special on 2 lb. bags of cookies doesn't mean you should buy them. Stick to the healthy choices you wrote down on your shopping list. 

Bottom line: You can’t eat what you don’t buy!

Source: Robard Corporation  


Which Gym is Right for You?

Is your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and be healthier in 2014? You’re not the only one. According to a study by the University of Scranton, 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, with 38% of those resolutions being weight-related. That means that losing weight is the number one resolution of 2014, topping the likes of getting organized, quitting smoking, and falling in love.

One of the first steps many of us take (me included) in achieving those weight-related goals is to sign up for a gym membership. However, how do you know which gym is right for you? There are positives and negatives to every gym and making sure you choose the one that fits your needs will be essential to sticking with your resolution. So what do you need to know? What are some of the things you need to think about before choosing a gym?

Determine Your Needs- What you want in a gym is probably the most important question you have to ask yourself. Consider your budget, types of equipment/activities you’re looking for, if it offers private training/assistance, the atmosphere, and more. Make a list of what you want and what you need and evaluate your options

Proximity- Whether it’s close to your house or close to work, choosing a convenient, accessible location increases the likelihood you’ll maintain your new routine. Driving by the gym on your way home from work means you’ve removed the “hassle” of making a special trip to get there.

Give it a Chance- Many gyms offer free trials where you can go for a day (or more) to give it a test run. Take advantage of it! Get a tour of the facility. See if it is suitable for what you want. Evaluate if it meets your wants and needs list. Is it clean? What kinds of classes do they offer? How is the staff? How are the other members? What are the hours?

Eventually the excitement of the New Year will fade away, but the motivation is what needs to stay. Choosing the right gym for you is a VERY BIG first step in the right direction. Remember, achievements are reached through commitment. Like a relationship, the only way this will work is if you are fully invested and are willing to do what it takes to make it work. Make this year a great one!

Source: Fitday



Burn Calories with Common Holiday Activities

This holiday season, as your social calendar fills up and you find less spare time to fit in a workout, look for ways to burn extra calories in many of the activities you already plan to partake in. Use these non-traditional activities to help burn off the extra calories consumed in some of your favorite seasonal snacks. 

Hanging Lights: Turn this holiday activity into a low-impact workout by focusing on using your core to stabilize you, isolating different muscles and working on your balance.

Amount burned in 1 hour of stringing lights: About 200 calories 

Ice Skating: Take your friends and family over to the local ice rink for a fun filled winter treat. Your laps around the rink are a great way to burn a substantial amount of calories.

Amount burned in 1 hour of ice skating: About 534 calories 

Shopping: To give is to receive. In buying presents and lugging shopping bags around the local mall, you’ll burn calories and strengthen your arm muscles. So remember, the heavier the bag the better the workout.

Amount burned in 1 hour of shopping: About 274 calories 

Stacking Firewood: Stock up on firewood to have on-hand for a cold winter night. Lifting and piling can burn a few calories and make snuggling up with a warm hot cocoa near the fire even more rewarding.

Amount burned in 1 hour of ice skating: About 190 calories

Do you have any calorie-burning holiday activities? Leave them in the box below and spread some holiday cheer!

Source: Robard Corporation


Healthcare Providers Should Aggressively Treat Unhealthy Lifestyles

In a statement made by the American Heart Association (AHA) earlier this month, healthcare providers should treat unhealthy behaviors as aggressively as they treat high blood pressure, cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors. Behaviors such as smoking, unhealthy body weight, poor diet quality, and lack of physical activity can all lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. The AHA believes that an increased focus from providers can help improve these unhealthy behaviors that people may have, and be able to steer them towards a healthier lifestyle.

This change could mean a more comprehensive evaluation of someone’s health, urging physicians to use the “Five A’s” when caring for patients, which are:

  • Assess a patient’s risk behaviors for heart disease.
  • Advise change, such as weight loss or exercise.
  • Agree on an action plan.
  • Assist with treatment.
  • Arrange for follow-up care. 

This is all part of the AHA’s “2020 impact goals” which are to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. 

What impact do you think this could have? Do you feel that your healthcare provider evaluates your behaviors enough, or should they be doing more? Let us know in the comment box below. 

Source: American Heart Association


Spotlight on: Calcium

Best known as the bone builder, not only does calcium help prevent osteoporosis – a bone-weakening disease that afflicts eight million women in the United States – it is used by every cell and tissue in the body. For example, it helps muscles contract, including those you use consciously (like your biceps) and those you use unconsciously (like your heart). 

Recent studies show that consuming calcium can help both your heart and your waistline. A University of Tennessee study found that people who get their recommended daily allowance of calcium through dairy products burned fat faster than those who didn’t, and a study at the Harvard School of Public Health found a lower risk of hypertension in adult women who consumed the recommended amount of calcium daily. 

The average woman over the age of 20 only gets about 858 milligrams a day, which is far less than the 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams recommended daily. It is also important to note that as you age your body becomes less adept at absorbing calcium, so once you reach age 51 or hit menopause, you should aim for a minimum of 1,200 milligrams. 

Where can you get it from? A cup of nonfat milk has 302 milligrams and a low-fat yogurt has anywhere between 245 and 415 milligrams, but if you don’t eat a lot of dairy products, you can get your calcium from other foods too, including: sardines, cooked kale, raw broccoli, fortified juices and cereals, and many soy products.


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    Weight loss, nutrition, diet, exercise, education, support, maintenance. Whether you're a professional looking for information about Robard's weight management programs and products or a dieter looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, read on for interesting, informational, and entertaining entries to meet your weight management needs.

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