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The Great Weigh-In Debate

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Do you ever struggle with how often you should weigh yourself? I've seen rather heated discussions on the subject. Everyone seems to have an opinion. It can get confusing.

Personally? I don't think there is one answer for everyone. I think this has more to do with your own personality than anything else. And, to a lesser degree, your goals.

If you are someone who needs constant accountability to keep your head in the game, daily weighing is what I would suggest. Knowing that you have to face the scale every morning might help you to stay on-track during the day.

On the other hand, if you are someone who gets discouraged with the daily (normal) fluctuations in scale weight, a weekly or bi-weekly weigh-in might be better for you.

And some people do better if they just don't get on a scale at all and instead focus on the changes in how clothes fit, measurements, and how they look in the mirror. Which are actually more accurate, albeit slower, gauges, anyhow.

Then there is the factor of goals. Weight loss is a completely different mindset than maintenance. You might decide you need to weigh more or less often, depending on where your head is in your current journey. Personally, I do best during maintenance when I weigh daily. But that's me. Some people are better at letting it go entirely or just jumping on a scale every once in a while to make sure they are still on target.

Now let's consider the goal of muscle gain. When I start with a new client, I ask them to step away from the scale, if at all possible. This is because, for reasons unknown to me, often the scale weight will change very little while the body shape changes fairly rapidly once intense resistance training is introduced. If someone is focusing on the scale it makes it very hard for them to acknowledge the physical changes taking place in their body.

Likewise, if you are working with a trainer who wants you to weigh in at certain intervals, that is what you need to do. Don't jack with their program! (I did a blog by [almost] that title here:

There is so much more to your fitness than a number on the scale!

And lastly, however often you decide to weigh, strive to do it at the same time of day, in the same amount of dress, having eaten (or not eaten) the same number of meals before hand. The most accurate time to weigh is first thing in the morning, after you have used the restroom and buck naked. But even then, there are fluctuations, so don't let a gain of a pound or two ruin your day. Just make note of it, keep doing the right thing, and weigh at the next scheduled weigh date. The most important thing is that the overall trend is downward.

And don't let someone else's opinion of how often you should weigh guilt you or have you second-guessing what is right for you. We are all individuals. Do what works for you, and respect what others say works for them. It's a big fitness world and there is room for all of our differences.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I personally find daily weigh-ins to be very useful in maintenance because they keep me focused on my long-term goal of not wanting to change all that much. I actually found weekly weigh-ins to be much more stressful from a psychological point of view as I was losing weight because I was never really sure what to expect and would sometimes take extreme measures to ensure my weigh ins were low (you've heard some of the things boxers and wrestlers do to "make weight"--that's what I was like). Daily weigh-ins keep me much more attuned to what's going on with my body and once I wrapped my head around the daily fluctuation thing, I managed to take the emotion out of them. Now I just use them to back up what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis and to look at longer-term trends. If the scale's up for a few days and I know I don't deserve it, no big deal. If it's up after a big meal, I hop on each day after to make sure things keep going back down. If it stays up and continues to go up, I know I'm doing something wrong and it's time to make some changes.
    1867 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/12/2013 11:36:28 PM
  • LIZZYP609
    I don't have much to lose (5lbs). I do the NSV more than what the scale says. I want to tone more than lose right now (just starting this phase).
    I do jump on the scale 3-4 times a week but mainly just out of curiosity than anything else.
    I do post weekly weigh-in here on spark.
    I was thinking that maybe I would record everyday weigh-ins just to see how much I can fluctuate in a month at this stage of the game.

    I myself have not let the scale determine my mood in a very long time. It is just a tool to me, one that keeps me on this road just as my food scale and eating plan do.

    Thanks for this blog! Great conversation!
    1868 days ago
    I have so much to lose!!!! am at the start, so I tend to weigh in daily to check if my changes in clean eating and exercise are really working or is there something physically impairing me to shed the pounds. I try so hard to stay away from the scale, but it calls out my name every morning... I try to gage the changes in my clothes and how I sleep at night...... I have expierenced such horrible effects of being over weight that the pounds do not seem to leave me as fast I wish they would. There have been days when the scale does not move and I tell my self KEEP GOING BECAUSE YOUR HEADED ON THE RIGHT DIRECTION!!!!!! I JUST WORKOUT HARDER.... I need to beat this and thats all that keeps me motivated... I need to be able to walk Disney World and not feel like am about to pass out, I want to fit in the chairs in the plane, I want to run and not get a black eye, I want to be able to get in and out my car without feeling faint, I want to be healthy and fit. My advise to the skinny me one day would be "NEVER STOP TRYING" there will be days that the scale wont move but you keep being focused and you will reach your GOAL" emoticon
    1869 days ago
    Love your blogs.

    I like to weigh every day, first thing in the morning. The daily fluctuations don't bother me at all. That's just what human bodies do. I'm patient with my progress when the scale is fluctuating back up, but I love it when it shows a new low. I mark my weight on the calendar and record it in Sparkpeople. I like seeing that my weight is definitely on a downward trend and that I don't lose weight in a straight line. I like seeing the squiggly downward line, that is just reality.

    The scale no longer tells me what kind of day I'm going to have. It's just a tool, it's just a reality check. I have healed my relationship with the scale and that feels great.

    I often periodically get my bodyfat tested using one of those water dunking tanks.

    The last time I had it done, I had gone from 33% body fat to 24% body fat and I had gained 4 pounds of muscle. I'll have that done again in a few months.

    You are totally right about weighing yourself being a individual thing. I have several friends that are only comfortable weighing in larger intervals. One doesn't like to weigh herself at all because the scale totally triggers her, no matter what it says. One friend weighs only once a week, and one friend weighs only once a month. It's definitely an individual preference.

    I also started using a bodymedia fit tracker and I love it. I track my food in spark people as well. My goal is to have an average of a 1000 calorie deficit each day, which I have been doing pretty easily. Scientifically speaking, that is supposed to give me a weight loss of 2 pounds per week, but I've been losing about 1.1 pounds a week. I've always known that I have a slow metabolism. Now I have proof.

    However, I have just accepted that as my reality. It will just take me longer to get to goal weight, but I'm ok with that.
    1869 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/11/2013 12:35:27 PM
    I do weigh daily, but probably should cut that back to once a week. The scale can fluctuate a lot.

    Thanks for the blog and insight.

    1869 days ago
    Great blog. ITA, it is an individual choice. emoticon
    1869 days ago
  • ROCKMAN6797
    Excellent blog....I weigh myself daily in the morning but only rely on one day for my "official" weigh-in day. Fortunately I am not the least bothered by weight fluctuations rather I use these daily weigh-ins to figure out what I can do better in the future and what works.

    1869 days ago
    Great blog! I'm in the process of trying to change my body composition, and my scale numbers go wonky. I am at the point where I can ignore the weight going up because that's going to happen as I swap things around, but I consider this black belt level! It took me a long time to get comfortable with how my body metabolism works.
    1869 days ago
    Good blog.

    I'm a numbers geek, so i weigh every day, I use a heart rate monitor for cardio and ST, I dig my little bodymedia armband, I track miles with my garmin GPS on the bike, I log every weight for every rep for every set of every lift on my iPhone.

    I'm just waiting for someone to invent a wi-fi receiver for my brain to just gonculate all the numbers!
    1869 days ago
    Love this! So true. Thanks for sharing.
    1869 days ago
  • TERRIH8118
    emoticon emoticon Great blog. Its very true we all have different ways of doing it. Myself, I weigh in once a week any more than that and I feel horrible. However. I do try to focus on the nsv that I see.
    1869 days ago
  • RUSSELL1960
    I find it helpful to have multiple tracking statistics. I do weigh in daily while also keeping a long-term record on the Spark People weight tracker. I also keep measurements of my waist, neck, arm and thigh. This combination enables me to get the benefit of the daily weigh in but keep strongly motivated by the long-term progress. The advantage of the daily weigh-in for me has been learning about what causes the daily fluctuations. For example, I thought I had found the perfect snack with only 20 calories, Kimchee. But I experienced significant weight gain the next day. I later figured it out that the brand of Kimchee I had bought had nearly 1000mg of salt in the two serving size snack I was enjoying. Thus I learned to watch the salt content more carefully. For me this has been helpful but I agree that each person will find the combination and scheduling of tracking that works best for them.
    1870 days ago
    Well said!

    Weight is one of many measurements that are used to paint the picture of ones health. The scale is a tool. If you can look at the results objectively as a feedback to how you are progressing, than you can weigh daily or weekly or whatever floats your boat. If your emotional state is tied to the number on the scale, then it is not a safe tool to use on a daily basis. In that case, you should probably stick to a routine where you weigh less often, perhaps weekly or monthly and you weigh in conjunction with other measurements such as BF%, waist, hips, thigh, arm, neck. Then you can get a better assessment of your progress (or lack of progress) than your scale can provide.
    1870 days ago
    Great blog, some people focus so much on the scale that they miss great milestones along the way!

    I was very focused on the scale until I was pretty close to my goal weight. The closer I got the less concerned I was and my focus shifted to the reflection in the mirror, measurements and most importantly the clothes I was fitting abck into. Now that I'm at my goal weight it's pretty much all about my tone that I can visibly see.
    1870 days ago
    Thanks for the reminder!
    I weigh myself once a week - same day, first thing in the morning, buck naked. I have learned to understand the fluctuations over time as I would get frustrated with the yo-yo of a couple of lbs. What I have learned is that after a long run on Fri or a HM on a Sat, my weekly weigh in will almost always be up 1-2 lbs. What used to upset me is now a fact of life. And now that I am more focused on ST and changing my body I really don't let the scale get to me at all.
    Thanks for the continued great advice.
    1870 days ago
    This blog was right on time for me Nancy. Thanks so much. I've decided to take a break from weighing and focus on tracking and fitness goals instead for a while. I will weigh again June 21st, the summer solstice.
    1870 days ago
    its different for everyone, for myself personally , I can only weigh once a week because if I do more than that I become obsessed with the scale , and I know that weight flucates every minute it seems!! I dont think there is any right or wrong way , its all how you handle it.
    1870 days ago
    Personally, for me, I can't be dictated by the scale. Mentally, it REALLY affects my psyche! I still need to grow so that it doesn't have this kind of effect, but until then, I try only to weigh once a week.
    1870 days ago
    emoticon "There Is So Much More To Your Fitness Than A Number On The Scale."

    That is SO True, and Mentally I Know IT!! And I do Understand Intellectually that Weight Training will probably result in at least a temporary Weight Gain. I have learned to -- Mostly! -- look for Trends and not let the daily fluctuations bother me. I try to only weigh 3 - 4 times a week, NOT Daily.

    emoticon However, I think there is a part of me that is afraid that a few Bad Choices, or Not Checking the Scale Frequently will lead to a Total Regain of All That I have lost. I know that is unlikely, and I hope that the Fear fades after I get used to being at This Weight.
    1870 days ago
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