The motivation behind embarking on a diet is generally to lose weight. It would seem like the right thing to do would be to weigh yourself constantly to track your progress…right? Well, no. In fact, weighing yourself too much can mess with your mindset and even give you false information. For some people, weekly weighing is ideal, while others get better results from weighing once a day (maximum!). Read on to find out: how often should you weigh yourself when on a diet?
What Does The Scale Actually Tell You?
The problem with weight scales is that most of them only tell you your overall weight. Unless you have a comprehensive scale, which reads your body fat percentage and muscle mass, you’re only getting one side of the story.
Let’s say you have been sticking to your diet religiously. You’ve been hitting the gym and working out. You’re feeling trim and strong and your clothes are fitting really well. You hop onto the scales but the number has not budged. This makes you feel disheartened and frustrated. This is the time to remember that the scale is only giving you one number. It is not telling you how much great muscle you’ve gained, or how much water you’re carrying after a salty meal, for example. Sure, keeping an eye on your weight-loss progress is motivating and inspiring, but it’s certainly not meant to ruin your life.
Tip: Don’t give the simple scales too much power over your thoughts. It is a general reading of your progress, which can be influenced by many different factors. Use it as a rough guideline of how your weight is faring, but don’t take it too seriously.
Avoid Obsessive Weighing
When you’re counting calories or following a strict diet in order to lose weight, it’s extremely tempting to weigh yourself constantly. It can almost become a strange kind of “high” to see the number on the scales dropping by the day or even hour. However, this is not a healthy or productive pattern to get into and might lead to an eating disorder.
When you judge your hard work purely by what the number on the scale says, you risk ignoring the other fantastic benefits of a healthy diet. Remember that your hard work is benefiting your muscle mass, energy levels, skin, internal organs and lowering your risk of disease. What’s a number compared to longevity, glowing skin and a strong, healthy body?
Here’s why obsessive weighing is counteractive:
– Your weight can change for many reasons other than fat gain or loss
– Water-weight adds pounds but doesn’t indicate your overall weight-loss progress
– The menstrual cycle can hike the number on the scales temporarily
– You might become obsessed with the number as opposed to the way you feel
– The gradual change in your weight will be less apparent and less satisfying if you are constantly monitoring the number
Tip: Be strict on yourself about when you use the scales if you’re starting to feel anxious or obsessed with your weight. Limit yourself to once a week (more on this below!) It’s also important to remember: yes, sometimes the scale might show a higher number than what it showed yesterday, but that does not mean you have gained fat.
Extra tip: Write yourself a list of other health and weight-loss signifiers to keep note of:
– How your clothes fit
– The quality of your skin
– Muscle definition and tone
– Your overall happiness and mood
– How you look to yourself and others (people always notice weight-loss – take those compliments with pride!)
Daily vs Weekly Weighing
The big question: is it better to weigh daily or weekly? The answer varies from person to person.
Daily: if you take a mathematical, practical approach to weight-loss and you’re not emotionally affected by the number, try weighing daily. Weigh yourself at the same time every day and record the number every time. Despite fluctuations, you can watch your overall weight-loss progressing. Weighing yourself daily might motivate you to stick to your diet and keep up your fitness efforts, as you know the next weigh-in is only a sleep away.
Weekly: weighing yourself weekly is a great option if you’re more focused on your lifestyle and the way you feel, with weight-loss as a welcome bonus. If you find that weighing yourself daily causes feelings of disappointment or obsession, limit your weighing sessions to once a week. You can still gauge your progress by monitoring how your weight changes after each week of healthy eating and activity.
When Is The Best Time To Weigh?
Weigh yourself at the same time each time you weigh, preferably wearing the same clothes every time. The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning after you have used the bathroom. This will give you the most accurate reading of your body weight without the addition of food, water and waste accumulated throughout the day. It also means that you’ll most likely be wearing the same thing every time (whatever you sleep in!).
Tips for successful weighing:
– Always weigh yourself at the same time
– Try to schedule your weighing sessions for first thing in the morning
– Ensure your scales are sitting on a flat surface with no ridges or uneven patches beneath
Tips For Buying A Quality Scale
There’s no point in trying to track your weight with a sub-par scale. Here are some tips for buying a quality scale to fit your budget:
– Decide how much you want to spend and look for the best model within that range
– If you can, spend a little more to get the most reliable model possible
– Read customer reviews online to gauge the true quality of a scale
– Find a scale with as many features as you can: body composition (fat and muscle mass)
– If you can, weigh yourself with scales at the doctors’ office or pharmacy which are likely to give the most accurate reading. Try different scales at the store immediately after and find the one with the closest reading to the doctors’ scale
Weight Tracking Apps
Technology is a real asset when it comes to losing weight. Calorie-counting apps and step trackers can take all of the guess-work out of eating right and getting enough exercise.
After a week of logging all of your foods into a calorie-counting app, you will soon realize your nutritional weaknesses. You might discover that you consume too many calories at night, or that your “healthy” snack options aren’t so healthy after all.
MyFitnessPal is one of the very best weight-tracking apps out there. This is a reliable and easy-to-use app which tracks your calories and macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins). You can also log your daily exercise and add the calories you burn back onto your daily calorie allowance. When you sign up to MyFitnessPal, you provide your weight, height, activity level and weight-loss goals. The app will then calculate the ideal number of calories you should aim for each day in order to reach your goals! Download the app to your phone and start logging.
Why use a weight tracking app?
– Learn the energy value of your food
– Control portions
– Keep track of your carb, fat and protein intake
– Make yourself accountable for your choices
– Visually see your progress by sticking to your calorie count and exercise plan
– Remove the chore of manually counting calories and guessing if your choices are truly healthy or not
Use your scales to track your weight loss in weekly or once-daily chunks. Avoid falling into the trap of being a “slave to the scales”, it will only give you false information and make you feel disheartened. It always pays to remember that weight is only one indicator of your progress. Added muscle mass (which is great!) will likely add pounds, even if you’ve lost fat at the same time. As well as using the scales, monitor your progress by noticing how your clothes fit and how you feel, and remember that a number is just a number.