Most of us probably don’t view our home scales as our best friends. Monitoring every little fluctuation in weight can often make it feel like your efforts to lose fat, gain muscle, or maintain your body’s status quo are totally worthless, and for some people, looking at those dreaded numbers can bring about a complete loss of motivation or obsessive behaviors that lead to the development of eating disorders.. Even the experts are divided on whether or not weighing oneself once a day, let alone twice, is beneficial for one’s health.
So why bother keeping a household appliance that might do more harm than good in the end? If even doctors are wary of scales, why not just chuck yours out the window?
It’s simple: Scales are only counterproductive if you use them wrong. Once you’ve learned how to properly utilize your scale, it becomes an indispensable tool to aid you on your fitness journey. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself on the do’s and don'ts of monitoring your weight through two weigh-ins every day.
Do: Maintain a Consistent Schedule
While we recommend two daily weigh-ins for most people, if that’s too scary, you can start out by doing it once a week. Regardless of which schedule you choose, it’s important to stick to it. If you’re going with a twice-a-day routine, make sure both of your weigh-ins are at the same time every day: once first thing in the morning, and once in the evening when you’ve finished eating and exercising for the day.
Don’t: Weigh Yourself Too Often
Between eating, drinking, sweating, using the bathroom, and a number of other factors, your weight is bound to change throughout the day. One person who weighed herself 15 times in a single day reported huge fluctuations from one minute to the next, sometimes for completely unexplained reasons. If you weigh yourself at the wrong moment, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’ve gained or lost a bunch of weight when your body has actually stayed the same.
Do: Always Use the Same Scale
Like any form of technology, scales have the capacity for a margin of error. The scale at the gym and the scale at the doctor’s office might give two completely different readings even if your weight hasn’t changed at all. In order to accurately keep track of changes in your weight, it’s best to choose one scale you can access twice a day and stick to it.
Don’t: Move Around
Movement can also play a role in the accuracy of your scale’s readings. If you don’t stand completely still, your scale will have a hard time detecting the amount of gravity pushing down on it and jumble up the numbers. Furthermore, if you use a digital scale, it needs to be calibrated every time you move it, so it’s easiest to always keep it in the same place.
Do: Pay Attention to Surprising Numbers
Once you’ve established a consistent weight monitoring routine, you should have a good idea of what is and not a normal weight for you at a given point in the day. Personally, after five years of weighing myself twice a day, I’ve learned that I usually weigh two pounds more at night than I do in the morning. If I see a difference of more than two pounds, that means I’ll weigh more tomorrow morning than I did this morning. A difference significantly higher than two pounds would be a sign that something fishy is going on and it’s time for a change in my habits or a visit to the doctor’s office.
Don’t: Freak Out Over Small Changes
As stated above, there are a wide variety of factors that can lead to changes in weight, and not everyone’s body is as consistent from day to day as mine is. Women in particular are likely to see unpredictable weight gain and loss due to menstruation, and that’s not necessarily a reflection of eating or exercise habits. Sometimes your weight will fluctuate for seemingly no reason, and it’s not always a cause for concern, so try not to immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion when you weigh more today than you did yesterday.
Do: Focus on the Long Term
Like anything worth doing, getting healthier is not an immediate process. It can take weeks or even months to see any results from even the most drastic lifestyle changes, but you shouldn’t take that as an indication that your efforts aren’t accomplishing anything. Keeping a weight log can help you see the progress you’re making, slow as it may seem. Your goal weight might seem unachievable right now, but every pound lost adds up, and looking back a year from now, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come!
Don’t: Rely on the Scale Alone
While your scale is a powerful weapon in your fight for a healthier body, it’s not all-knowing. Even when using the methods recommended above, all a scale can do at the end of the day is provide you with a number, and collecting information is always best with as many different forms of data as possible. Pay attention to how your clothes fit and what you’re able to achieve when you exercise. Take regular pictures of yourself from a consistent angle. Most importantly, focus on what you’re feeling because at the end of the day, your number one goal should be to inhabit a body that makes you feel happy, energetic, and strong.