Well I hadn’t. Not till this year. Having rid myself of the accursed diabetes, I’m determined not to go there again. And so I invested in (a very cheap model of) electronic bathroom scales. Just to keep a check on the weight.
My bathroom is dolls-house-tiny. So the scales sit in the kitchen—because, so I’m told, they have to be on a hard flat floor. Yea, well, we’ll ignore the fact that my flat (apartment to you), built 1603 by a friend of the Cromwells and intended only as a warehouse, has not a flat floor in the place. But I figured the kitchen’s non-carpeted floor was the best option. Until now.
I first noticed it around Christmas. But I’d had bronchitis, heavily dosed with a strong antibiotic, and thought the weight increase due to the utter destruction of the essential flora and fauna I’d been carefully nurturing in my intestines. I equally high dosed on probiotics. And asparagus.
I began losing weight. Slowly. Healthily. Nothing to write home about.
And then the temperature plummeted. And I put it all back on. And more.
Odd, this. I’ve not noticed any strain on my clothes. In fact I’m buying a smaller size. This makes no sense. How can I put on weight, yet lose size? Ok, yea, I do free weights: it’s muscle and bone, it’s bound to be. Right? No.
The weather improved. And so did my weight. By now I’m curious to say the least.
This last week the temperature again has dropped. And my weight has increased.
In all this time there has been not an iota’s change in my diet (except for a fortnight after the antibiotics).
Yesterday, typing away at my desk, I felt the telltale scything of my legs (more accurate than any barometer). This tells me that 1: the wind has changed direction, 2: it’s increased in speed, 3: the temperature has dropped. I checked out on the local weather site (Met Office). Sure enough, on all three counts.
Right, thought I, experiment time. Go stand on the scales.
Sure enough, I now weighed 4 kilos more than this morning. 4k! That’s over 8lb.
I moved the scales to a carpeted area—out of the draught. When I was weighed at the surgery last summer, I weighed in at 2k less than at home, despite it being after I’d breakfasted, and being fully (outdoor clothes) dressed. I remember I came home and, knowing scales weigh less on carpet, moved my scales to there. Just as an experiment. Lo! I weighed exactly the same as at the surgery—whose scales are regularly checked and if necessary recalibrated.
So that’s what I did again. I moved the scales to the carpeted area. Reset them. Weighed myself. Lo! I weighed within a point of a kilo exactly as I had last summer at the surgery.
Scales back on hard, cold surface, I filled a hotwater bottle (yes, I do live in the Dark Ages). I left said bottle for a while warming the hard glass surface of the scales. Scales duly warmed, I tried again. Lo! Those 4k had gone.
By now I’m real curious. How can this be? Googling the query only fetched up loads of ads for highly accurate scales for which one needs a bank loan to buy. But I did find one site with a possible answer.
“Does temperature affect the reading of bathroom scales?”
An answer was posted (in fact, several):
“Things expand and contract based on the temperature, and cheap bathroom scales don’t exactly have high manufacturing standards. Hooke’s Law (force on spring = constant x deflection) isn’t affected by temperature, so my best guess without tearing open the scale is that there’s some wiggle room at one (or both) ends of the spring inside the scale. Temperature rises, that wiggle room opens up more, basically increasing the size of the “dead” area around the zero point. Temperature drops, things inside tighten up, and the dial gets moving with less force applied.
I personally would only trust any bathroom scale to have a resolution of about +/- 5 pounds. If it tells you you gained or lost anything less, chalk it up to the margin of error on the scale.”
[posted by backseatpilot, June 8, 2008]
Another of the many correspondents replied:
“I’ve noticed that cheaper bathroom scales can be quite sensitive to unevenness in the floor and the position of your feet on the scale. One digital scale I owned appeared to just pick any random number within 8 pounds of my actual weight.”
So before you panic that you’ve put on weight, check out your scales. And remember: