Motivation Articles

4 Signs It's Time to Step Off the Scale

Does Weight Weigh Heavily on Your Mind?

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.

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Member Comments

  • I use Polar scale together with my A360. I weigh myself every day at the same time, but I am NOT obsessed with my weight. I get a trend analysis on the Polar website and thank to it I can see if I go the right direction. I don't care that much about "daily number" because I know it can really fluctuate, but I look at the overall trend. It works for me. I've tried to weigh in weekly, but it is just something that doesn't work for me. Everyone needs to find their own way og monitoring progress. Some people should stop weighing inn daily, because it destroys their motivation. Some people are ok with weekly check and some people don't use scale at all. And you know what? It's ok. We have to find a solution that works for us and be carefull not to let the scale define us.
  • I can't handle scales, so I don't. I stick to my diet better when I just focus on eating plan and how my clothes fit or change size. :-)
  • I was a twice a day scales person . after the story i going to work on 1 time a day and aiming for 1 time a week as my goal. a good reminder that daily weight and more often is not a sparky thing to do it just makes nuts.
  • Because "weight" continues to be a method of judgment in our society I am all for using the scale in a way that is most useful to the individual. The individual is the only person who truly knows their relationship with the scale. There are so many types of body weight scales and the variance between them can prove to be a nerve-wracking experience. First, find a scale you can "trust" and weigh yourself on that scale only for continuity. Second, if you decide to weigh daily and then average the results, weigh at the same time of day in the same state of undress and after "elimination" (this does not refer to purging as that is symptomatic of an eating disorder). Try to duplicate the same "weigh-in" circumstance each time you weigh, whether daily/weekly/mont

    IMHO a person needs to find a level of weigh-in behavior that is most comfortable to them. I've tried many methods and the method I feel most uncomfortable with is the "no weighing ever" method because as that relates to me it is the method that insures continual weight gain. As much as I hate weighing myself, I know exactly what happens when I "ostrich it". I am a proponent of "if it benefits your health and body and it's legal" try it to see if it works. Everyone needs to find their own best way. The most important thing to remember is that doing all you can to keep your body as healthy as possible with good nutrition, plenty of good, clean water and regular exercise will help you reach your goals. If your only goal is weight loss there are many paths to take to reach that goal. If your goal is improved overall health and becoming more physically fit, then your scale weight should not be your #1 priority and can be moved to a lower position on your "list".
  • Oh those numbers in our lives! I wonder if the number messing with our mind is our blood pressure reading, cholesterol level, blood sugar result or even the balance in our checkbook, would the advice be to ditch the measuring tool and stop thinking about it? Perhaps facing the facts, adjusting our mindset and evaluating the causes of the worrisome numbers would be another option?
  • I don't have a scale in my home for the very reason that it can become an obsession very quickly. But, I do weigh outside my home - every 1 - 2 weeks - with a free system in our grocery store called HIGI - it also can check blood pressure and calculate BMI and the records are accessible whenever I want to see/use them. I also am rebeginning to do a weight tracker on SPARK that has been helpful in the past. .
  • If a relationship works, use it. If the relationship does not work, break it. I know some people like their scale and that's all good. My relationship with the scale was abusive and detrimental to my health. I have had to ditch my scale. I had 3 of the 4 points listed in this article. There are too many variables to weight. I have decided to let all of the other measurements count more.
    How do my clothes fit?
    Am I stronger?
    Is my size shrinking?
    Can I breath better?
    Can I dance longer, throw further, sleep better?? That is what I look at.
    Everyone has something that works for them. The scale does not work for me. I have a great video of me taking a sledgehammer to my scale. It was one of the most liberating things I have ever done! send me a message and I'll send you the link!
    I used to be a weekly weigher and did lose the majority of my weight (more than 100 pounds over two decades) that way. However for me, daily weighing is now the norm. I log in a phone app that shows me the trend and the daily fluctuations do not bother me, instead they set me free from putting too much worry over just one weigh in because I see that it is a process, not a destination and have learned more about how my body works than I ever did with just one scale session a week.
  • HENRI8341
    Weighing in everyday is how I lost my way. I have it that now I weigh myself once a month. Yep, guarantee that I lose at least a 1 to 4 pounds. As far as the everyday thing, I let my clothes be the indicator. But if weighing in everyday works for some then go for it. It's all about staying focused and getting healthy.
    I agree with the daily weighers. For me, it's the weekly weighing in that is more depressing, because it may be exactly what BOBG1 describes, a salty, beer-induced, water weight morning. His point of taking the lowest reading for the week might be the way to go after all... http://www.huffin
    yourself_n_1844340.html has a similar focus over a month-- take the average of the weekly readings... that's the actual weight loss. I like the idea of doing that over the course of a week instead... I find a month is too long to give me any feedback. If it's not working, I want to know a little quicker than that if I want to tweak something.
    And of course, averages if you're a woman... Ah to have the same body composition and hormones at all times... but I digress...
    If your self-esteem is based on a number on a scale, stay off of it. I suffer from an eating disorder and it was the first thing my doctor told me to avoid. Weight by itself is not a determinant of health. Your behaviours are more important than numbers. Eat well, sleep well and exercise. Don't rely on external confirmation of your self-worth.
  • Weighing daily definitely keeps me on track. I even went the extra mile recently and bought a wifi scale, so I can't fudge the numbers. They go right into Sparkpeople automatically from Fitbit.
    Typo: In the next-to-last paragraph, the word "rust" should be "trust." ("If you are, then rust that your body[...]")
  • BOBG01
    It is because of the fluctuations that I weigh myself every day. I used to only weigh myself first thing Monday moring. Then one Sunday I went to a picnic and lost control. I binged and drank a bunch of beers. On Monday morning I weighed myself and the scale said I gained four pounds. Well the device has yet to be invented that could measure the amount of self loathing I felt at that instant. I am a grown man and I wanted to break down and cry. I worked very hard all week, even keeping my calories at the bottom of my range for most of the week. I exceeded my exercise goals. I even ate before the picnic so as not to binge, and yet I binged, and now six days of hard work were down the drain with a four pound weight loss.

    I tried to do damage control and estimate to the best of my ability how many calories I had consumed on Sunday. To my best estimate, I went over my calories for the day by a whopping 2600 calories. I also reminded myself that I ate at the bottom of my range on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Worst case scenario, I should have gained a pound at most, but more likely, not lost anything. To have gained four pounds I would have needed to eat 14,000 calories over my range. So I tried not to let it bother me. When Tuesday morning came around I weighed myself again and I was back to where I had been the previous Monday. No loss is certainly better than a gain, and it was as I expected, I hadn't gained four pounds it was impossible. Also, I hadn't lost four pounds in a single day, that's impossible too. So when Wednesday came around I weighed myself again. I was thrilled to see that I was now a pound less than the previous week. Imagine if I had only weighed myself on Monday? Sure I would be thrilled to following Monday to see that I lost five pounds, but I would have spent an entire week of agonizing, putting myself down, and generally feeling depressed-OVER ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. On Sunday I overate salty foods and washed it down with six beers. That extra weight was all that stuff inside my body, NOT fat....
  • I'm completely siding with the daily weigh-in folks. I completely understand the physiology of daily weight fluctuations, but if I weighed in weekly and got an unpleasant result I would never know if it were a fluke or not--maybe it's even a low number and my trended weight would be even higher! I'm not bothered by the day to day changes, in fact, I expect a gain after a big loss just because that's the pattern my body follows. Slightly down, slightly down, slightly down, large drop, moderate to large gain, then the pattern begins again. My trend line, however, is aggressively down and that's all that matters. Daily weighing gives one a great sense of our natural rhythms. Sometimes my best weigh-ins are after meals I expect to tip the scales!

About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

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