Updated: Apr 21, 2020
Oh, the scale. That numerical traitor you spent your money on expecting it to always give you great news. Instead it leaves you disappointed more than it does happy. Even when you’re doing everything right, sometimes those numbers just won’t move. Then, what happens? You may feel like you want to quit, right? Discouraged a bit? Sounds familiar?
Wait! Don’t throw your scale away! I know I’m bringing up old feelings, but it’s going to be ok. You may just be using your scale wrong.
The scale is one of many tools to use while working to lose weight and maintain a fit life. One of many, not the only tool.
In the initial stage of your journey it gives you a good idea of where you are and can help you to develop your goals. At this point you can use your weight to determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is the amount of calories you would naturally burn without activity (absolutely nothing). Knowing this number gives you the minimal amount of calories you will need for major bodily functions (breathing, blood circulation, and temperature regulation) in a 24 hour period. From here you can set your goals and develop your plan by determining your daily caloric allowance and your schedule for being active. Guess what guys, when you lose weight you will have to recalculate your BMR for continued progress. So you’ll need a scale. Remember, this number is based off of your weight as well as a few other factors.
So much occurs, “behind the scenes”, in your body that you can’t simple use the numbers on the scale to determine your failure or success. That is unless you’ve set a goal weight for yourself. I don’t like those types of goals. I’m all for performance goals. But, I’ll entertain it. Moving on. Our weight fluctuates often. You can weigh one thing in the morning and notice a gain in the evening. Eating, restroom breaks, and showering can cause fluctuations in one day. If you’re retaining water you’ll see weight gain.
Use the scale to guide your decisions to help you reach your goals. Sometimes I will gain six to 10 pounds of water weight every month. Thanks, Mother Nature. When this occurs I try to drink more water to help release the extra water. In this instance I’m using the scale to learn cues from my body. If I’m consistent with my activity and I’m eating according to my plan why am I seeing a six pound weight gain? Then I look at my ankles and see where the water is hanging out. That’s not to say always blame weight gain on retaining water, lol I wish, but retaining water can also be a sign to look at what you’re eating. There could be some extra sodium hidden in your meals. So in this case, you can review any changes in your diet. Did you switch out a regular product because another was on sale? Did you go out for dinner? Do your detective work, back track, and adjust. If you can tell it’s not water weight do the same detective work to see where the gain came from. Ladies, I suggest charting your weight for at least three months to learn what your weight does during your monthly cycle. This will help you narrow down the culprit. I gain weight after ovulation and drop it all right before my menses ends. Sorry guy friends!
The scale is also a good tool for maintenance. When you’ve reached your goal weight (I’m still entertaining you all that have a number as a goal. I’m not judging. I find it cool that you’re working on yourself!) stepping on the scale can help you to maintain your weight. You’ll notice when you’ve gotten too comfortable with your success and get back on track.
How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?
Ok, so now that we know the benefits of a scale let’s address the age old question about how often you should weigh yourself.
While working to lose weight, I preferred to step on the scale every morning. Should you choose to weigh yourself daily, make sure you do it at the same time every day. Remember
our weight fluctuates throughout the day and we weigh more after we’ve eaten. This means the best time of the day is when you first wake up.
I’d like to recommend that initially during your weight loss journey you step on a scale daily, but I understand we all aren’t the same. However, you will need to be familiar with the scale, often, in the beginning. This will help you to know if what you’re doing is taking you in the right direction and allows room for error. Once you get into the hang of your routine you can ease up. I don’t suggest any of this if you have a history of eating disorders.
If you don’t want to feel tied to the scale there are other ways to check your progress through none-scale victories. Take weekly pictures of yourself in a mirror wearing the same outfit or in your skimps. Whichever you choose, be sure to capture yourself in different angles. Looking at old pics and comparing them to current pics, period, is good for seeing your progress. Also, you can pay attention to how your clothes fit or purchase a cloth tape measure and have someone take measurements of your body. The picture above is a guide to help with circumference measurements. A cool meme I saw suggested using yarn to measure your mid-section weekly. Cut the yarn to your exact measurement and tape it to a free wall in your home. Measure thrice, cut once!You can use this to chart your progress and motivate you to continue. Hey, reaching your performance goals means you’ve progressed from where you began. That’s a progress check as well.
To answer the question of how often to step on the scale? It depends. If you’re serious about losing weight and that’s your goal for this portion of your journey, I’d recommend you do it daily. It will keep you on task of losing weight. If your goals are more focused on your activity check once or every two weeks at the same time on the same day of the week. As long as you are working towards your performance goals you are working on your health and the weight will decrease. I truly don’t think there’s a specific schedule for it as long as you develop a healthy relationship with your scale. Understand that it’s there to help you and not make you feel like a failure. Use it with the mindset that there will be days the number isn’t what you want to see and it’s not always your fault per se, but once you understand those fluctuations you’ll be ok. If you’re truly consistent you’ll see the results. Please don’t stress over an inanimate object.