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Motivation Articles  ›  Staying Motivated

4 Signs It's Time to Step Off the Scale

Does Weight Weigh Heavily on Your Mind?

-- By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
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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.
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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.

Member Comments

  • I weigh myself daily, but I use that number more as a confirmation that Im doing ok. I do allow for some fluctuations but if the trend is going downward for the most part or staying close to the same, I know I am doing ok. If I see it creeping up continually, I know that I have to change something. The scale just gives me a number that I use as one more tool in my box. I weigh myself, step off and either I keep doing what Im doing or I reflect on whether or not Im doing everything I should be. Surprisingly, the scale is a motivator for keep going when Im doing great and to keep trying when I have no so great weeks. Its definitely not my be all and end all though... - 3/22/2014 12:58:16 PM
  • Much wisdom in this posting. Thanks the "dose of reality" - 10/20/2013 2:22:51 PM
  • I need to really be mindful of this as I let the scale have way too much control over my day.....I am going to try and only weigh in once a week....will have to have daughter hide the scale for me. I am hoping that will help me with this long journey back to health! - 10/20/2013 11:27:34 AM
  • This speaks so perfectly to my mind set this morning! I felt that I worked so hard these past few days, but the scale gave me nothing in return. Have I been feeling better? Yes!
    Have I been making better choices? Yes! Have I been more physically active? Yes! So why can't I accept these as successes and give myself a pat on the back? - 9/5/2013 7:17:23 AM
  • Because I have heart health issues, my cardiologist advised me to weigh myself several times daily to ensure that I'm not retaining fluids. I only track my weight in full pounds, and enter in my home journal full pounds based on same-time every morning weigh-in. I do occasionally enter my weight online even if there is no loss. However, I do not let what I weigh affect my drive to become healthier. - 8/4/2013 1:24:28 AM
  • This is me too, I am afraid if I don't weigh everyday I will gain a whole bunch of weight and not know it, but that is my OCD... I am going to try and weigh only once a week from now on. I will probably have anxiety until next week. tomarrow is the end of wk 1 for me and I will use today's weight. At least I finally lost something. Edna - 4/9/2013 11:04:40 AM
  • Honestly, this is me. I put so much importance on the results of the scale that I forgot that I did eat well, drink water and exercised. Ignoring all that only because a number of the scale doesn't move isn't the way to go. This leads to me giving up and that is bad. This time I will not measure my success by the scale and just work hard! - 4/2/2013 9:56:59 PM
  • LUCY0501
    Wow, this article is dead on accurate! I struggled with my self-esteem as long as I can remember. I used to weigh myself two or three-times a day,, and I was either over the moon or destroyed by the number I saw in front of me. About a year and a half ago, I asked my husband to hide my scale. I started measuring my own fitness by keeping track of my good habits and fitness goals, and making sure that my pants fit :-) I have never been happier, more confident, or in better shape. But now, I am 11 1/2 weeks pregnant with our third child. In prior pregnancies, I was so distraught by my weight gain that I refused to weigh myself during the process, and consequently gained tons of weight! I have resolved to not stick my head in the sand this time, and have taken the scale out again so that I can keep track and make sure that I am not gaining an unhealthy amount. I find myself reverting to old habits, obsessing about the numbers I see in front of me, and worrying that I haven't gained enough weight, or have gained too much. I came across this article because I was googling ways to deal with a scale of obsession. I have become a more confident person due to a healthier lifestyle and a greater love of myself, and I am really hoping that I can somehow keep myself grounded during this process but not gain an unhealthy amount of weight! - 2/22/2013 7:10:36 AM
    I think you're missing a key letter in the phrase "rust that your body is making positive changes." :) - 2/11/2013 3:30:13 PM
  • I refuse to weigh myself every day due to body changes; water weight, etc. I weigh myself only once a month. After one full month of exercising, eating healthy foods and smaller portions I lost two pounds, BUT, I've lost inches all over. My clothes are loose and I have more energy and stamina. I've gone down one clothes size and I feel great. - 12/30/2012 6:23:20 PM
  • JOSH73
    Thank you, I really needed to read this. - 12/12/2012 7:18:13 AM
  • Very encouraging. I like how the author mentions the question: "Have you been consistently making the right choices" and if "Yes" then you are doing fine. That is a great way to measure progress. And those "checks" of clothes fitting better, stairs easier, etc really should be the important things to check. After all, those are the things that affect our daily lives more than the actual measure of pounds. (And the pounds will follow.) - 11/12/2012 8:10:01 AM
  • I find it hard to stay off the scale, I really want to be able to visualise my progress. That being said, as I am also weight training right now, I am gaining muscle mass and my regular old bathroom scale does not take that into account. So it does leave me bummed!

    At the gym, they have a BMI machine that I get to use 1 a week with my trainer and that is truly my reward every Saturday :) - 10/22/2012 10:01:02 AM
    I invested in a Doctors Office Weight Balance Scale. I was tired of going to the doctor and his scale said I weighed more than my digital. I find when I am not checking my weight it means I am overeating. I know not to stress about it if it is up a few pounds, but it makes me aware of my previous days activity and eating and also elimination. Yes I do weigh myself first thing every moning and then put the number on a blackboard in my kitchen. Its important to me to keep myself on track. When I am avoiding the scale I am in trouble. My weightloss is a priority and I need to track it closely.
    This is against all recommendations but it works for me. - 10/10/2012 11:50:37 PM
  • I used to weigh myself every day - in the morning, naked, before I got in the shower (to get the most accurate reading). Those daily fluctuations were very bumming and it's amazing I was able to stick with it. I had an epiphany about a month ago and I relaxed on weighing in daily, giving myself permission to not exercise every single day and to eat a few more calories. The result - I still workout as hard as I want to but I'm ok with missing an extra day in a week, I don't crave the bad food and I adore the good food and I'm still losing weight. I am no longer a slave to my scale and I have proven to myself that I have truly changed my lifestyle. - 10/10/2012 3:21:24 PM