4 Signs It’s Time to Step Off the Scale

Does Weight Weigh Heavily on Your Mind?
  — By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
It cannot talk yet it speaks to you. Some days it makes you giddy with delight. Other days it puts you into a deep depression. It judges you on a superficial level. The thought of it is enough to worry even the most optimistic person. What am I talking about? The notorious bathroom scale.

What is with this obsession we have with the scale? For most people, the scale can be an adversary or an ally, depending on the day. We often hate what it says or argue with it, but we still feel the desire to use it. When used properly and taken for what it is, it can actually be a very useful tool for weight management. But for many, the scale does more than measure the total weight of all your various parts. It somehow defines who you are as a person. And sadly, it can determine your own self-worth. We read way too much into this single-purposed tool.

Here are four signs that you might put too much weight on weighing in:

1. You constantly worry about weighing in.
When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s normal to experience some hesitation when it’s time for your weekly weigh in. After all, you want to see the numbers go down as confirmation that all of your hard work has paid off. We all want to be rewarded for our efforts, and it can be discouraging when you have done everything right and things still don’t pan out. However, if you find yourself preoccupied with worrisome thoughts of what the scale is going to say tomorrow or the next day, then you might be a little too obsessed with the scale.

2. You weigh in more than once per day.
SparkPeople recommends weighing in once a week (or even less). Ever wonder why it’s not a good idea to do it more often? Your body weight can and will fluctuate from day to day, and change throughout a single day, too. There is no sense in putting yourself on that roller coaster of ups and downs. In the war on weight, if you become so concerned that you weigh yourself daily or several times a day, you are fighting a losing battle and you will be discouraged. If you feel like you can’t control yourself or stop yourself from weighing in each day, then you could be headed for trouble.

3. You can recite your weight to the nearest fraction at all times.
This is a sure sign that you are relying too heavily on the scale. Anyone who can tell you not only how much she weighs each day, but measures her weight loss to the nearest quarter of a pound is probably weighing in too often. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see a lower number on the scale, even if it’s a quarter pound lower, but remember that weighing in is more about trends (an average decrease or consistency in weight over time).

4. The scale determines how you feel about yourself for the day.
When the number is down, you step off the scale singing and have a jump in your step all day. When the number goes up (or stays the same when you expected a loss), you feel like Charlie Brown walking around with a rain cloud above your head. To me, this is the saddest situation of all—to let the scale dictate how you should feel. How would you feel about yourself if you hadn’t weighed in that day? What other ways would you determine your self-worth if weight didn’t exist?

If one (or all) of these situations sound familiar to you, it’s time to step away from the scale. Go cold turkey. Or at the very least, weigh in less often. But what’s a “compulsive weigher” to do?

Instead letting the scale alone determine whether you’re a success or failure, use more reliable measures to determine your progress. My philosophy is that weight loss is not a goal, but the result of healthy habits like a better diet and regular exercise. When you do step on the scale and don’t see the reading you had hoped for, ask yourself these questions: Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? Am I making healthy food choices most of the time? Am I exercising consistently? If you are, then rust that your body is making positive changes, and the results will come. If you are not, then resolve to be consistent in healthy behaviors to see the results you want.

Weighing yourself is definitely helpful and it has its place. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and give too much credence to this one measurement! After all, other measures (like how much energy you have, how much easier it is to climb a flight of stairs, or how well your clothes fit) might not be as precise or scientific, but they’re sure to make you feel happier and more successful than a scale ever can.

Which Is the Best Day of the Week to Weigh Yourself?

Which Is the Best Day of the Week to Weigh Yourself?

You can’t lose weight if you’re not checking in with the scale. There’s no way around that. And it’s a key part of the equation when using MyFitnessPal.

But there is disagreement, even among the experts, about how often to weigh yourself and which day is best. To wit: A 2014 Finnish study concluded that more frequent weigh-ins lead to more successful weight loss; just a year later, a British study concluded there’s no evidence that stepping on a scale daily is better than doing it weekly if you want the number on the scale to decrease. At MyFitnessPal, we have advocated that there’s no one single strategy when it comes to frequency of weigh-ins.

“Because weight changes slowly, you’re unlikely to see much of a change on day-to-day basis,” says Scott Kahan, director of the Washington-based National Center for Weight and Wellness. “For some people, if they don’t see the weight go down, they get very frustrated and give up. You need perspective to understand what is and isn’t reasonable to look for.”

If you do decide once a week is for you, here’s what experts say about which day of the week is best.

MONDAYS: FIND FOCUS FOR THE WEEK

It makes sense: You start the week off with a weigh-in, and know where you stand after what was perhaps a fun-filled weekend. That’s part of the rationale behind why MyFitnessPal’s default setting for weigh-ins is Mondays.

“We tend to go off on weekends a bit, which is fine, but it’s nice to have a check-in to get back to your normal weekly plan,” Kahan says. “It’s not seeing weight [on Monday] that motivates you. It’s the fact that you are paying attention to your weight that is a motivational aspect for rest of week.”



At the same time, the fact that most of us tend to loosen the reins (and our belts) from Friday night to the end of Sunday means your weight may be higher on Mondays, and therefore less motivating. If you’re concerned, remember it’s just a number on the scale.

“It’s not the number that matters, it’s how you interpret the number that’s important. It’s a piece of data you are getting,” Kahan says. “Use it as jumping-off point to get back on plan for the week.”

WEDNESDAYS: GET THE BEST READING

According to the 2014 Finnish study referenced earlier, we tend to weigh the most on Sunday evenings and the least on Friday mornings. So some experts say weighing in midweek gives you the most accurate reading.

“We recommend Wednesday because it gives you the most consistent reflection of which direction your weight is going,” says Sofia Rydin-Gray, director of behavioral health at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina. “On Sundays, we weigh the most because we eat and drink more on the weekend, and by Wednesday, you’ve had a few days to get back on track.”


READ MORE > 5 SIGNS YOUR SCALE IS SABOTAGING YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS QUEST


But if you’re the type to let a weekend of lax eating bleed into Monday and then Tuesday, it may be better to get on the scale Monday to motivate you to get back on track.

FRIDAYS: MAKE THE MOST OF WEEKENDS

Checking your weight before the weekend can help you strategize for it. “If you’ve worked hard during the week, you can see what your progress is and have that to decide if you want to reward yourself a bit and have some splurges on the weekend,” Kahan says. “Or if your weight hasn’t gone down, maybe you decide to go to gym and not go out to eat.”

However, this may not work for everyone, Rydin-Gray cautions: “If you gained a pound, it could make some people feel bad and lead to binge eating [all weekend],” she explains. This “I might as well eat junk” mentality can then snowball — if you tell yourself you’ll start over on Monday, you may never get back on track.

THE BEST DAY TO WEIGH YOURSELF?

It’s simple: Do it on the day to which you can commit.

“Use weigh-ins as a tool to help you stay on track and stay focused on making healthy choices,” recommends Rydin-Gray. “They can be whenever, but do it the same day and same time every week, with the same scale. Every scale is calibrated slightly differently, and your weight can fluctuate several pounds in one day.”

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