By Coach Meredith
So, you’ve decided it’s time… time to lose some weight, feel better, have more energy, do all the things you’ve been wanting to do.
Picture this: You decided enough is enough. You switch up your nutrition and begin eating healthy foods and you embark on a regular exercise routine. Before starting this journey, you may have taken some baseline measurements (Weight, Body Fat Percentage, Hydration Level, etc.) to see where you are in order to determine where you want to be. So the time comes to check-in on your progress, you step on the scale, and…..you haven’t lost any weight.
What do you do? Continue with eating healthy and following your exercise plan? Throw in the towel, and go back to what you were doing before? Start restricting your eating even more as an effort to make weight loss happen faster?
These are all the typical reactions to a lack of “success” on the scale. I say “success” loosely because first and foremost our value as a person is not determined by a number on a scale. Weight loss, maintenance, or gain can be very tricky to navigate.
Weight fluctuations are common because your weight is determined by a variety of factors. These include but are not limited to how hydrated you are, what you recently ate, your bathroom habits, the climate, and your exercise routine. A few pounds of weight fluctuation here or there are usually not a result of fat gain but a result of your body doing exactly what it needs to do to regulate its physiological functions.
That brings me to my next point-- How often should you weigh yourself? Whether your goal is maintenance, loss or gain, let’s talk about the scale.
The first question we need to figure out is: “Will weighing myself (daily, weekly, periodically, etc.) help me or harm me?”
Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer here since figuring out what is helpful and motivating is different for each individual. It is up to YOU to decide. Here are some thoughts on frequency of weigh-ins:
There are many people who find that weighing in daily provides a sense of accountability and is helpful for having a good idea of where they are with their progress. I only recommend this if you’re able to look at the overall trend and not stress about the fluctuations. For example, does a 0.4-pound weight gain sour your mood? Or, are you absolutely elated to see that you’re down 1 pound? If the daily weigh-ins powerfully affect your mood and behavior, then you might want to reconsider how often you weigh yourself. The number on the scale should not have the power to dictate your mood, the events of the day or your overall quality of life — it’s just a number.
Weekly weigh-ins can have its advantages in your weight loss/maintenance/gain journey. This allows you to track progress while still having six whole days to not focus on your weight.
For best results, pick a consistent day each week, and weigh yourself first thing in the morning and wearing the same items of clothing (or no clothing for most accurate results). Look for trends, but don’t get caught up in the subtleties. You must realize that it will take a few weeks to get where you are heading. Weekly weigh-ins can be a good tool to help you feel accountable without making you ride the daily emotional roller coaster that is (or can be) the scale.
Occasional weigh-ins may be done at home or at the gym or doctor’s office of which they don’t frequent. People who opt for the occasional weigh-in often have alternative ways of identifying weight shifts, like the way their clothes fit or how strong they feel while exercising. The body is a science and on our weight management journey this ultimately may be the best way to identify our best, healthiest self. Remember, a number is just a number. It does not define who we are as a person.
Lastly, there are many people out there who never set foot on a scale. Some people find it helpful to focus on how they feel in their clothes, the balance of their meals and snacks and how they perform with their exercise rather than focusing on the number. Again, this is a valid way to approach health — there’s much more to health than a number on the scale!
If you are weighing yourself multiple times per day, PLEASE stop! With rare exceptions, you should not weigh yourself more than once per day. Obsessing over a number on the scale can turn into a very problematic pattern that can disturb the peace and happiness in your life. If you decide to weigh yourself, the scale should be a tool that helps you, not harms you.
Each of us has different ways of experiencing things and inviting motivation and positivity into our lives. My advice to you is to find what works and positively motivates you and stick with it.
Have a positive week all!