You know what never gets any love? Your bathroom scale! I see a lot of posts, blogs, and comments on social media about how ‘bad’ the scale is. How you should NEVER step on the scale…in fact it would be better if you just threw the damn thing out!
My question is why? By labeling something as ‘bad’ we give up our own power and let go of what is in our control. It’s the same as labeling certain foods as good or bad. We hear all the time - bread is bad, potatoes are bad, a cookie is bad...but celery is good, kale is good, chickpeas are good. So what happens when you are told over and over and over that bread is bad? Don’t you eat that bread! You’ll get fat eating that piece of bread! That slice of bread is going to mess up your metabolism!
What happens when this is the message you constantly hear? Well inevitably you are going to eat a damn piece of bread, and then…guilt sets in. You beat yourself up for giving in to something ‘bad.’ You think you’ve undone any progress…perhaps you then say screw it I may as well eat 4 more slices! You start to go through some internal emotional turmoil…over a damn piece of bread. WHY???
Why would you give power to an inanimate object? Don't you step on that evil scale! Why the hell not? Why would you attach emotion to numbers…to data? It’s silly right?
When clients come to me with fat loss goals, contrary to popular opinion, I don't tell them to throw out their scale. In fact, depending on their goals, I will actually have my clients weigh themselves DAILY! How dare she? She has no idea what she is talking about! Is she crazy? Nope, not crazy…just someone who believes that my clients are intelligent humans and with a little knowledge & education they can understand why this philosophy could be of benefit to them. I will have a conversation with my clients to determine if this method could work for them. It's not for everyone and it's not a big deal if we put the scale aside...BUT I refuse to play into the demonizing of the scale.
Let me explain:
My suggestion is to weigh yourself daily AS LONG AS YOU CAN understand what the scale is telling you, and see it from a data or analytical perspective. IF you can't and you feel controlled or obsessed with it, then don't do this.
Now keep in mind, of course the scale is NOT the whole picture when it comes to fat loss, so my clients also take consistent body measurements & progress photos, as well as track the fit of their clothes, their energy levels, strength levels, and overall satisfaction levels. The scale is only one small data point or snapshot of 'potential' progress. Overall we want the whole picture!
BUT this is why I think a daily weigh-in can be a very useful snapshot of the overall fat loss picture (again, as long as you understand the data).
First of all you need to understand the scale can & will fluctuate anywhere from 1-4+ pounds a day! You can test this out by weighing yourself first thing in the morning, after breakfast, after a workout, before a #2, before dinner, after dinner, before bed. You will probably get multiple different readings...but this certainly does NOT mean you gained 1-4 pounds of fat in that day (or lost 4 lbs for that matter!).
Fluctuations can be due to:
Eating a large meal later than normal
Eating saltier foods that day
Retaining water (due to pretty much all of these factors!)
Needing to do a #1 or #2
Lack of sleep
Weigh-in time (earlier or later than usual)
Using a different scale or wearing clothes vs naked
Heavy workout the day before
If you automatically associate these fluctuations in the scale as fat loss or gain then this gets you into trouble. However, knowing how the scale works & why fluctuations are completely normal keeps everything in perspective. Also, as stated earlier, knowing that the scale is only one miniscule measure of progress also keeps things in perspective.
So I recommend a daily weigh-in. With a daily weigh-in we look at weekly averages instead of a one-off number. Remember it's just data! We want to see how weight trends over time. Here's an example – let’s say your starting weight was 150lbs:
(Weekly average = 148.75 lbs)
(Weekly average = 147.6 lbs)
IF you weigh yourself only once a week or even once every 2 weeks, depending on the day (for this example let’s take Thursday), you might be tempted to say screw it, break out the bread & wine and have a pity party because you don’t think you lost any weight over 2 weeks! However, let's look at the weekly average. Week 1 your average was 148.75 In fact you were actually DOWN 1.25 lbs over the week! Week 2 the average was 147.6, so in two weeks your weight is DOWN 2.4 lbs! Look at the trend over time. Is the average going down every 2 weeks? Are you hitting a new low?
If you think you can look at the number on the scale from an analytical perspective, then try it and watch the trends. Don’t let the scale take over your emotion or power. It’s not a ‘bad’ object until you let your emotions get in the way. If you get fixated on the number or become consumed by the data, then it’s time to put the scale away. If not, pull out your inner nerd, geek out on the data and embrace the scale!