Motivation Articles

4 Signs It's Time to Step Off the Scale

Does Weight Weigh Heavily on Your Mind?

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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

  • 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. - 9/4/2014 11:39:33 AM
  • LUPE_SEIN
    Typo: In the next-to-last paragraph, the word "rust" should be "trust." ("If you are, then rust that your body[...]") - 9/2/2014 1:15:58 PM
  • 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.... - 8/27/2014 3:08:36 PM
  • 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! - 8/27/2014 12:17:18 PM
  • I think it just depends on what works for you. I actually weigh myself at least once a day to prevent myself from going crazy! If I see my weight go up two pounds in 24 hours, I pretty much know that it's either water weight or an inaccuracy in the scale. If I only weighed myself once a week and saw my weight go up two pounds, I'd probably panic. I've actually found that the more I weigh myself, the more little changes to the number on the scale are rendered meaningless. - 8/27/2014 1:38:42 AM
  • 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
  • LAURADIONJONES
    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
  • LAURADIONJONES
    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 me...to 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

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