5 Things To Know Before You Weigh Yourself

Should you weigh yourself?  How often should you weigh yourself?

should I weigh myself

Should you weigh yourself – ever?

The Good and Bad of Weighing Yourself

Frequent weighing is a good idea for lots of people trying to lose or maintain weight. But it can have disastrous effects for others. My clients often ask me about using the scale. Here’s what I tell them.

If you stand on the scale and use the number – whatever that number is – as information and feedback to your weight control efforts, then weighing is a good idea. But if the number affects your mood and if it offers judgment instead of information, don’t weigh yourself. The number on the scale cannot tell you even a dot about your worthiness. It should not tell you that it’s a good day when you like the number and that it’s a bad day when you’re displeased with the number. It’s a number. That’s all it is. Don’t allow it to affect your self-esteem. And if you can’t yet keep the scale from passing judgment on you, toss it. Don’t weigh yourself at all. Simply keep working on your healthful lifestyle habits.

Weigh Yourself on a Reliable Scale

If you choose to weigh yourself, be sure that your scale is worthy of you.  To check its reliability, stand on it three times within a 1 -minute period. Your scale is reliable enough if it gives the same number within a pound or so with each of the three checks. If your scale flashes 155, 159 and 153, it’s unreliable. Get rid of it. Either purchase a more reliable scale or plan to weigh yourself at the gym or the doctor’s office.

How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?

Checking your weight at least weekly gives you feedback on your plan and allows you to adjust your routine as necessary. But if the scale becomes a source of anxiety, weigh yourself less often or not at all. If you’re trying to maintain a weight loss, I recommend weighing yourself very often, so you can catch small gains before they become unmanageable. Weigh yourself the same time of day, preferably in the morning before eating or drinking and after using the restroom.

Woman Weighing Herself

Sometimes changes in your weight don’t reflect body fat.

Check out these 5 reasons your weight may be up!Click To Tweet

5 Reasons Your Weight May Be Up

  • You’ve been less attentive to your eating plan. The most obvious reason is that you’re eating more calories or burning fewer calories. But the obvious answer isn’t always the right answer. If your weight is up a pound or two overnight, it probably has nothing to do with gaining fat.
  • Your sodium intake is up. If you’ve eaten out more than usual or had extra salty meals at home, your body will hold more fluid, and that shows up as extra weight.
  • You added carbohydrates to a typical low-carb diet. If your body is used to subsisting on a fairly low carb intake, eating more carbs causes more glycogen and water storage. Again, that shows up as extra weight. But it’s not fat; it’s just water.
  • You haven’t had a bowel movement.
  • You’re experiencing hormonal changes. A woman can expect to see a couple of pounds of fluid changes because of her menstrual cycle.

A lot of my clients have a very prickly relationship with their bathroom scales. The best response is to improve that relationship. In the meantime, however, it’s smart to take a break from the scale for awhile. My colleague, Rebecca Scritchfield, writes about being kinder to yourself and freeing yourself from the scale. Check out her book Body Kindness.

I’m curious, what are your thoughts about weighing yourself?

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Jill Weisenberger

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.

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7 Comments

  1. Brenda on October 6, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Thank you for this sensible explanation. I get so irritated when my weight jumps around from one day to the next.

  2. Arlene on July 1, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I used to be afraid of the scale, but not anymore it keeps me in check with my weight that being said I have to get on the scale for doctor appointments, etc. I’d rather not be surprised. Also, I’m fighting Pericarditis right now working with the doctors at Cleveland Clinic need to stay at a good weight.

    • Jill Weisenberger on July 1, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience that it’s possible to make peace with the scale. I agree that it’s a good tool to monitor progress or to prevent weight gain. Not everyone can handle it yet, and that’s okay. There are other ways to monitor progress too. Wishing you the best of health.

  3. Vince Mattaliano on January 5, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    Great article! Weighing can be helpful but, as you stated, not if it affects your mood. I think the once weekly guidance is good. But choose your day. For me, it’s Saturday before we go out for lunch.

    • Jill Weisenberger on January 5, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      Awesome! Consistency is key in so many things, isn’t it?

  4. Marilyn Bowes on January 5, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    I weigh every morning just to make sure I’m not gaining weight back. I accept the fluctuations that occur. I’m following the Mediterranean eating plan but I allow myself some latitude. My focus is on low fat and lots of veggies & whole grains. I’ve replaced 95% of my butter with EVOO – a big deal for me!

    • Jill Weisenberger on January 5, 2020 at 4:52 pm

      You’re rocking it! So glad you’re doing so well and even better that you recognize it.

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