Healthy Weighs

You’ve GOTS to Do It

GOTS? Isn’t that grammatically incorrect? What is GOTS?… It stands for Get Off The Scale. Many bariatric surgery patients have become slaves to the number between their two big toes, so much so that they weigh themselves daily or even several times a day. However, this practice can be counter-productive. Let’s evaluate why it’s a good idea to Get Off The Scale.

A regular scale can provide us with only one piece of information: how much gravitational pull the earth has on our body or, more commonly stated, how much we weigh. It is normal for our weight to fluctuate during the day and from day to day, and most of this is related to water fluctuations. Even a modest intake of sodium can cause water retention as can being even slightly dehydrated. Your body begins to work very hard to “hold on” to as much water as possible, especially if it is getting signals that it’s not getting enough fluids. Those fluctuations are picked up on a regular scale and simply show themselves as weight. Not losing weight, or even more disturbing, gaining a half pound or more, can be so frustrating and demoralizing.

Sometimes a regular scale can provide a false sense of security too. Your weight may decrease but it may be that instead of losing fat, you have actually lost muscle mass. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat, so losing a pound of muscle means that you lose the ability to burn an extra fifty calories in a day. YIKES! It is also possible to be significantly dehydrated and have that show up as weight loss, and it is, but it’s not a fat loss which is what is desired. Your scale at home simply cannot tell the whole story.

Patients have the opportunity to learn about the Tanita scale when they attend an information session at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital. This scale uses an electrical current to measure the pounds of fat mass, water and fat free mass in our bodies. In an ideal world, weighing yourself only when you come to the office is recommend, but we do know you want more frequent feedback than that. In an effort to decrease your frustration, we recommend that you never weigh more frequently than once a week and that you weigh yourself at the same time of day each time.

Instead of too frequent weighing, concentrate on “non-scale victories.” Take the time to notice how your clothes fit, if you can tighten your belt another notch, if you have an extra bounce in your step or if your rings are getting too big. Trust in the process. If you follow the “recipe,” i.e. thefour keys to success, you WILL be successful.

Now Get Off The Scale!

Trish Jarrell, RN, is the clinical manager of Bariatric and Metabolic Services at Roper St. Francis Healthcare.

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