Just a few months ago, researchers behind a study on daily weighing and its impact on weight loss goals and maintenance tried to say that jumping on the scale every single day wasn’t as bad for you as many might think. As David Levitsky, one of the researchers and a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell stated about the study’s findings, “If you see your weight going up a little bit, you may consciously or even unconsciously be more resistant to all the cues in the environment that might otherwise make you eat a little more.” To Levitsky, “Stepping on the scales should be like brushing your teeth.” And according to the results of the analysis, which was done on people who had been screened beforehand to ensure that they didn’t battle with an eating disorder at any time in their lives (which would make them more likely to obsess over their scale readings), those studied who consistently measured their weight had better control of it. For instance, college freshman who were instructed to weigh themselves daily for their first 12 weeks of school packed on zero pounds. However, those who weren’t asked to do the same put on an average of five pounds during that time. And it was even pointed out that in a two-year study of gym members who were overweight, those who checked on their weight daily and wrote down what they found managed to lose more weight–and keep it off.
With medical experts telling you such things, it makes it easy to think that you should go with their advice and step on your scale every time you head to the bathroom in the morning. Every person is different, and it could work for you. But as a regular Joe Schmo who has gone through a major weight loss journey, I would advise against doing such a thing. Weigh yourself weekly. I find it to be more accurate and much less stressful.
As I’ve stated before, I started taking my health seriously in early 2015. With a change in diet and an increase in exercise, I have managed to drop 45 pounds. When I met my goal weight, I was ecstatic. But I found earlier this year that when I started to move further away from it, about 10 pounds or so, I started to feel anxious; as though things would be just like they were around 2010, when I stepped on a scale one day and realized that I had far surpassed 200 pounds and didn’t know it happened. (It was actually my penchant for buying fast food every evening after work.) And as someone who grew up lanky and wound up packing on the pounds after college, I hadn’t really battled with weight before. But once my battle began, I was determined, to an unhealthy extent, to overcome it.
So yes, I used to get on the scale every day. Every morning I would wake up and my first thought would be, “Let me go ahead and pee so I can weigh myself.” Even urination became a means to an end. And how I truly realized I was beginning to do too much came when I would see a slight increase on the scale and start questioning if my sleep dress was holding me back. “Maybe I should be naked when I get on the scale?” I thought to myself.
It was ridiculous.
And what I also found was that I was believing that the changes I was seeing, based on water weight or a night of going too hard on carbs, were numbers destined to stick to me and stay on the scale forever. So one bad number turned into almost two very determined hours in the gym, while one one good number meant I was going to treat the hell out of myself for dinner and dessert. There was no balance. All of a sudden I was losing weight to eat, and then working hard as hell to take it off. The scale wound up playing a large part in quite the mind clusterf–k.
So, I had to get myself together. I realized that I needed to focus on eating right all of the time, and learn how to eat things moderately. I needed to work out in a way that I could actually sustain and do workouts that were fun–one’s where I didn’t feel like I needed to tack on another 45 minutes to literally feel like my entire lunch had been removed from my system. I needed to be healthy about getting healthy. And that started when I decided to shift to weighing myself once a week. By doing so, I didn’t feel so bad about what I did or didn’t do every day food and fitness wise. I realized that my weight would vary throughout the week, but Friday morning would give me the real insight I needed into how my newly formed habits were working for me. Weekly weigh-ins me know how I was doing. They gave me goals for each week. All in all, they cheered me on or gave me a heads up, in a healthy way.
As fitness expert Jillian Michaels once said, “Don’t think of the scale as anything other than a compass — something we use when losing weight to keep us going in the right direction.” With that being said, your scale should be a tool to help you, not hinder you. Nor should it become something that changes the way you feel about yourself. What you see on the scale is an important number, but you’re more than what you see on it. Do what you can to have control over your weight–but don’t let it control you.