Updated: Jan 28, 2019
So, I am asked this question a lot. “How often should I weigh myself?” There are a couple schools of thought on this topic. However, I lean hard toward one. Let me tell you why…
A scale is a tool. Just one of several that we use to track body composition. In my program, we track progress several ways, the scale, body measurements, pictures, hunger levels and strength. Each of them are effective and each is a great way to measure progress. But, the scale seems to be the one that gets a bad rap and is a source of never-ending frustration for people. For some, it has the ability to set the tone for the whole day. Will you continue to rock your plan, or will you throw up your hands in frustration and eat all of the cookies? Let me explain why what the scale says is not always a reflection of our progress.
Our bodies react to everything we do-what we eat, when we eat, what we drink, how we move, or don’t move. If you have an intense workout the day before, the scale will be up in the morning, as the soreness you are feeling is actually muscle inflammation. Alcohol can cause us to weigh more since we are dehydrated and our bodies are holding onto water for dear life. Even a high–sodium meal can cause water retention (darn that turkey pepperoni). If you weigh yourself every day, you begin to see the patterns and connections that emerge based on all of these factors. You realize that you can be up and down several pounds in a week. This is normal! The panic of seeing a two-pound increase, or decrease (for our gainers), is gone because you understand why. If you only weigh yourself once a week and you see an increase, you may not see the actual two-pound loss that occurred before you drank those two glasses of wine the night before. The important thing is to see an overall upward, or downward, trend in your weight!
Check out these screenshots from my personal My Fitness Pal account. You can see the ups-and-downs in a week, but more importantly, you can see the overall trend over the last year is distinctively down.
Some weeks, you will see zero movement on the scale, but you may see visible changes in your body composition. Those changes are equally as important and valid as what the scale says. Improvements in strength are valid ways to measure progress, as well. If you lose no weight, but your old jeans now fit, that is a win! Don’t let the scale be the only measure of your success.
Now, some people have a serious aversion to the scale. For those people I recommend weighing yourself once or twice a month. The emotional reaction to the scale is not worth the information gained. We can get a good amount of useful information from the bi-monthly weight checks. Emotional health is as important as physical health. Again, we would be looking for the desired trend.
So, there are two takeaways. One, weighing yourself daily allows us to see how our body reacts to how we treat it. And, two, the most important thing about the number on the scale is that the overall trend is going in the direction we want it! So, do not be afraid of that scale-knowledge is power!
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