Weight Loss: The Number on the Scale Could be Misleading


There could be more behind that number on your bathroom scale. Photo by Bonnie Parrish-Kell.

When I stepped onto the scale this morning, just a couple days after the end of the holiday season, I dreaded what would appear on the display. Imagine my delight when the number was much lower than I expected!

You see, last year on Jan. 2, 2017, I weighed four pounds more and that was after consistently participating in a month-long holiday fitness challenge in December 2016. The promotion included daily fitness and nutrition challenges, and group exercise sessions that would demonstrate participants’ progress — or lack thereof — in strength and endurance.

Woohoo! I hadn’t eaten a single cookie and hardly any dark chocolate (yes, I swear!) last month! I admit to having a slice of pumpkin pie (skipping the crust) and vegan whipped topping seemingly every night for dessert because a humongous Costco pie lasts forever!

So I should be jumping for joy, right? Well, there’s more to this story.

My bathroom scale also reports body mass index, calories needed to maintain weight, and the percentages of fat, water, and muscle. Because these figures have hardly fluctuated over the last couple of years, I assumed they were just default numbers based on the settings of my initial height, age, and fitness level.

Well, I guess the scale does have working sensors.

Take a look at how those measures compare between 2018 and 2017:

  • Weight: 180.2 pounds vs. 184.2 pounds (down 4.2 pounds)
  • Fat %: 38.2 vs. 33.0 (up 5.2)
  • Water %: 42.4 vs. 47.9 (down 5.5)
  • Muscle %: 46.4 vs. 51.9 (down 5.5)
  • BMI: 30.0 vs. 30.7 (down 0.7)

Sadly, I lost my precious calorie-burning muscle (and strength, no doubt) I worked so hard to build, and I regained a bunch of body fat. All because I got off-track, lazy, distracted, burned out, lost my motivation, or some other sounds-good-excuse from doing any consistent walking, cycling, or strength training.

Jackie Arcana, a 20-year veteran in personal training, triathlon coaching, and nutritional counseling, once explained to me the correlation between hydration (drinking plenty of water) and fat but at the moment I don’t remember the details. Probably because I’m struggling with frustration and with the desire to beat myself up with mean criticism for being so [fill in the blank] about “letting myself go” yet again.

The sordid, messy truth is that I have to stay active and watch what I’m eating. I know I feel so much better when I eat less carbs (of all kinds, including the gluten-free options), more veggies, and healthy proteins. Drinking more water is crucial, especially here in deserts of Las Vegas and southern Utah.

This evening, I cleared out the fridge, the freezer, and all the cabinets of the last bits of New Year’s foods. Now to look for a few fresh ideas and recipes from a new book, “The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution” by Jill Hillhouse, CNP, with Lisa Cantkier, CHN, and “The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook” by Dianna Rodgers, NTP with Andrew Rodgers that features gluten-free recipes. I bought these books a couple months ago. My hubby will certainly benefit from this, too.

Cover of "The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution" by Jill Hillhouse

Following a lifestyle that keeps blood sugar levels on an even keel does wonders for mood, brain function, and weight control. Reading books like this one can help us learn better ways of buying foods, preparing meals, and making sensible choices. Photo by Bonnie Parrish-Kell.

Cover of The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook by Diana Rodgers, NTP

Photo from

Wanna join me in getting back on track (or starting a new experience)? Drop me a line. I’d love the support!

About Bonnie Parrish-Kell

Publisher & Chief Diva here at Slowpoke Divas. I always feel better after a good workout or matter how sore I am afterwards. Tweet me @bparrishkell or @slowpokedivas. Instagram: @slowpokedivas