The scale carries a lot of weight–both literally and figuratively. It is simply a contraption to measure an object’s mass, but it has also become a measure of our self worth. That’s why many coaches advise folks to not weigh themselves. The day to day fluctuations of our weight can prove to be too stressful, and one may end up watching the number on the scale with as much obsession and importance as if it were the Dow Jones. Although it is completely natural to go up or down a few pounds in even a single day, seeing that fluctuation can lead to anxiety and restriction for a person trying to lose weight.
The argument for avoiding the scale is not only for our mental well-being. Weight doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to our body composition. A person new to exercising could be putting on muscle while losing fat, which would not reflect a significant loss on the scale. Our hydration levels also affect our weight. Using measuring tape and noting how your clothes fit are other ways to gauge fat loss that focus on your actual size versus how much you weigh. For example, it is possible to lose two inches in your waist without the scale changing.
However, I don’t think it’s bad to weigh yourself on a weekly or even daily basis, but only under one circumstance: that you do not take your weight personally. If you can separate your value from your weight and realize that the number on the scale is merely data, then it’s not a big deal. In fact, it provides you with a feedback loop. You can see how your food choices affect your weight. For instance, you might be slightly heavier after a carb-heavy day. If your weight is consistently dropping then you know that what you’re doing is working. If your weight isn’t moving, then it’s time to start looking at the variables.
And while it is possible to change your body composition without losing actual pounds, for many people who are trying to lose fat, there is going to be a difference on the scale. And in that sense the scale is just another tool to measure where you’re at.
Weighing yourself should be no different than weighing your food at the grocery store. It is what it is and there’s no need to get emotional about it. If your food weighs a certain amount then you pay a certain amount. And if you weigh a certain amount you know that you should either keep doing what you’re doing or make some changes. Where many people get stuck is when they take their weight to mean they’ve been “good” or “bad.” There is no moral implication in your weight. It’s just a number. If you are trying to lose weight and you’re off target it doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you need to change something. Like I said, the scale is a tool of measurement and your weight is data. That’s all there is to it.
I used the scale as an accountability tool and to track my progress. While frequently monitoring your weight might drive some people crazy, it has actually helped me to normalize my weight fluctuations. I’m very familiar with how my weight goes up and down during the week, and that actually helps me to NOT freak out when I’m a little heavier. I know objectively that it’s just what happens and eventually I will go back down. Furthermore, I don’t give my weight the power to ruin my day. I don’t want it to have to be something that I hide from.
I realize that not taking your weight personal is easier said than done. If your weight is a sensitive topic and can influence what kind of day you’re having, then you should avoid the scale. If you can get clinical about your weight and distinguish it as information, then I think the scale can be helpful.
You shouldn’t weigh yourself if…
- It makes you obsessive
- It can ruin your day
- It leads to restricting
Feel free to weigh yourself if…
- It does not affect your emotions
- You are okay with seeing daily weight fluctuations
- You see your weight simply as data
Do you weigh yourself regularly? Does it ruin your day or can you take the meaning out of the number?