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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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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 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
  • 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
  • LUPE_SEIN
    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
  • THEPEG1
    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