A friend of mine is a member of quite a few weight loss groups. In one of the groups, a woman shared that she had recently lost a pound. Some people gave her the thumbs up sign but a few of them said to her, “A pound isn’t that big of a deal. Post again when you’ve really dropped some pounds.” My friend and I were surprised at the negativity. The incident prompted me to think about whether you really should celebrate if you’ve lost a single pound.
First of all, let’s talk about natural weight fluctuation.
Your weight naturally fluctuates throughout the day. You may think you lost a pound when in fact you sweated more than usual, were ill, had extra bowel movements, or drank lots of water.
Conversely, the scale can move up without a failure in your diet because of bloating, excessive sodium intake, constipation, or medications you are taking.
What It Takes to Really Lose a Pound
When you lose a pound while actively dieting it means you’ve created enough of a calorie deficit, about 3,500 calories, to see the loss of a single pound. You can achieve that in several different ways.
Here are some examples:
- You’ve cut your typical calorie intake by 500 each day for a week.
- You’ve combined burning calories through exercise with calorie reduction and lost a pound.
- You’ve eaten just like you always have but burned a lot of calories at the gym and lost a pound.
When Not to Celebrate
If you haven’t been sticking to your diet at all but see your bathroom scale inch down by a pound, I wouldn’t celebrate. That pound loss is likely due to normal body weight fluctuations instead of an actual loss.
Be honest in your assessment of why the scale moved downward. Celebrating a faux loss may set you up for disappointment when the scale moves back to your normal body weight.
Another reason to be cautious in celebrating a single-pound loss is when you have gained and lost that same pound over and over for a week or two. This is a common indication of a diet that isn’t going very well.
For me, gaining and losing the same pound usually meant I was halfheartedly dieting. I’d do well for a few days, see the scale inch down, eat more than I should, and see the scale inch back up.
When and Why to Celebrate Losing a Pound
I did a little happy jig every time I lost a pound but I didn’t celebrate on the first day the pound disappeared from my body. I never believed it was a pound gone forever until the weight loss had appeared on the scale for a couple days in a row. Then I celebrated.
Weighing every day is something I frequently recommend to people who don’t get upset by normal body fluctuations. Part of the reason daily weighing can be a positive experience is that you can learn how your body reacts to salty foods, illness, medications, and normal hormonal changes.
The more in tune you are with your body, the more certain you can be that the pound you see gone from the scale is truly a pound gone due to hard work and dieting.
I encourage you to be honest in your assessment of whether the pound you see gone from the scale is a result of a good diet and regular exercise or a normal body weight fluctuation. If it is a result of the former, then celebrate and keep working hard until you reach your goal.