Motivation Articles

4 Signs It's Time to Step Off the Scale

Does Weight Weigh Heavily on Your Mind?

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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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 very much disagree on weighing only weekly, unless someone has a truly negative "relationship" with it as described in this article. Knowledge is power. How often do I see people on the forums panicking because they "haven't lost weight in two weeks", when for all they know they actually did, just keep gaining meaningless water weight the day before weigh-in because that's their one day a week to have pizza? When you weigh daily, the trends are so much easier to see, and any temporary panic over a gain is almost always dispelled within days when the scale goes down a bunch all at once. When you weigh only weekly, you are unlikely to have any true idea of what's going on, potentially for weeks at a time.

    IMO if scale watching is too stressful for a person, they should weigh not weekly, but only once a *month* (for a woman, at the same point in her menstrual cycle. I've seen one week after onset of her period suggested, and that makes sense to me). Monthly is usually enough time for those meaningless fluctuations to even out, such that even if you get the worst possible combination of water weights from one month to the next, you'll likely still see some loss (if you had any). Weekly is the worst of both worlds.

    Finally -- for maintenance, I believe that frequent weighing is vital. Most successful maintainers do it, and closer to daily than to weekly. There's no better way to prevent a one pound gain from turning into a five pound gain from turning into "oh I give up". - 6/16/2014 9:59:22 AM
  • Your right. You sometimes have to see other changes that are taking place like your measurements and the way you are thinking. My attitude has got a lot better since I don't stress over weighing. That is just one of the tools that we use for progress. - 6/15/2014 6:40:53 PM
  • Ignoring the scale is how I gained the weight in the first place, I won't make that mistake again. I credit my 4+ years of maintenance to my daily morning weigh in. It doesn't affect my mood. It keeps me honest. - 6/15/2014 4:50:37 PM
  • A few months ago, I had to ditch the scales. They were driving me crazy. I started counting my points. that showed that I was drinking the water, tracking my food and reading the articles. I set a goal of 3000 points a month. I am into my 3rd month and doing fine. Have I lost weight. I don't know! It's okay. I feel good and I am staying on the journey to a healthy lifestyle, not on a diet. - 6/15/2014 4:04:53 PM
  • Now that I'm in maintenance for the most part, I weigh myself at least once a week because it can get away from you if you're not vigilant. - 6/15/2014 12:25:38 PM
    Use your daily morning weight as MOTIVATION, nothing else. Motivation to do your daily cardio and not eat withe starch and sugar carb crap - nothing else matters in weight loss. Get 'er done. - 6/15/2014 9:26:51 AM
    Use your daily morning weight as MOTIVATION, nothing else. Motivation to do your daily cardio and not eat withe starch and sugar carb crap - nothing else matters in weight loss. Get 'er done. - 6/15/2014 9:20:55 AM
  • Thank you this article really help me out and I have been weighting myself every other day and I notice it would go up or down and it did affect my moods. Now I am going to do it every 2 weeks weighing in. I am trying to get to the 10 lb mark I only have 2 more lbs to go and I have been stepping on the scale a lot often so I am going to leave it alone now. although I have heart problems and they say that fluid will make u gain weight fast so sometimes I wonder if that is the case when scales goes up. Thanks again
    Tammy - 4/29/2014 7:38:15 PM
  • 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