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How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?

Updated on August 12, 2012

To Weigh or Not to Weigh?

The numbers on the scale are complicated indeed. They give us only limited information about our health and fitness level, yet they can lead us on an emotional upheaval all the way from elation to depression--sometimes in the same day! So, is it a good idea to weigh yourself? If so, how often should you get on the scale?

Health experts have varying opinions regarding the scale. Some suggest avoiding it, some think you should make it part of your regular health routine. Here are some good things to keep in mind when considering the scale:

Weighing yourself is a reality check. One study followed a group of dieters for two years. Those who weighed regularly did not gain weight as opposed to those who avoided the scale, so regular weigh-ins may help keep you at a healthy weight because you can make necessary adjustments right away, rather than letting your weight continue to climb. Also, your weight can be an indicator of your overall health and if left un-checked may lead to missing a potential indication of a problem.

Frequency of weigh-ins may vary according to your goals. Most experts agree that if you are trying to lose weight, you should not weigh yourself more than once a week. If you are not on a weight-loss plan, it is sufficient to get on the scale once a month.

The scale is only one indication of overall health. People who are slightly overweight can be healthy and thin people are not exempt from health problems. It is important to keep this in mind when you step on the scale. There are many other factors to your overall health and your weight is but one piece of the puzzle.

Weight can fluctuate, even daily. Your weight can vary by several pounds due to water retention or other factors. That is why it's a good idea to weigh yourself at the same time of day, otherwise it can be extremely frustrating to see the numbers go up so quickly. Likewise, when numbers go down too fast, they may not indicate true, lasting weight loss.

Consider your personal reaction to the scale. Be honest with yourself regarding your relationship to the scale. If you are happy with the way you look and feel, you may not need to weigh in. If you know you need to lose weight, you may need to face what the scale is telling you. How you react to that number, though, is key. It is important to analyze your emotional connection to the scale. Tune in to whether your mood is affected by the numbers you see and whether or not you are obsessing or weighing yourself too often. If your daily happiness is determined by the numbers on the scale, or if your mood goes up and down with the numbers, you may need to re-define your relationship with the scale and arrive at a more healthy one.

Remember that a healthy weight varies with individuals. Determining what is a healthy weight means coming up with a number that is healthy and realistic for you. You can look up weight charts and Body Mass Index tables for your height to get a guideline for a healthy weight, but these charts are just indications. Your weight should be one you are comfortable with for your body type, age, and habits. For your optimum health (physical as well as emotional) your weight should also be realistic for you to maintain.

Include other "check-ins" besides the scale. The scale is one indicator of your health, but there are many others including your measurements, how your clothes fit, your fitness level, your muscle tone, your BMI, and how you look and feel when you see yourself in the mirror. There are scales which also tell you your body fat composition in addition to your weight. Make sure all of these indicators are as important as what the numbers on the scale are telling you.

A good rule of thumb is to weigh yourself weekly, or even just monthly, when trying to lose weight. Once you reach your goal weight, you may want to begin daily weigh-ins (once daily, at the same time each day) in order to nip slight weight gains "in the bud". If you need to start deiting again, it is important to stop the daily weigh-ins and go back to weekly since daily weigh-ins can be frustrating when going for true, lasting weight loss. Most successful dieters who have kept weight off have a "max weight" that they allow themselves (a few to ten pounds usually). If they reach that top weight, they go back to the weight-loss program that worked for them and also adjust their weigh-in schedule.

When weighing yourself, do what works for you Ultimately, you are the one who will decide what works for you regarding the scale. Your weight should be part of your general health knowledge about yourself, but it is only one factor. Many things can make your weight fluctuate, and your overall goal should always be health. To that end, you also need a healthy relationship with the scale. We can't avoid the scale altogether, but we can't let it totally define us either. The scale should help lead you to happiness with yourself, rather than to frustration, depression or weight gain. It is important that you find the right balance about weighing yourself. A healthy relationship with the scale is a necessary component of your overall health and well-being. With the right approach that is right for you, you can face the scale as friend, not a foe.


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    • g-girl11 profile image

      g-girl11 5 years ago

      Thanks mperrottet. I find that daily weigh-ins (while trying to lose weight) cause such frustration and get you out of touch with yourself and your true hunger. I really hope your husband finds success!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      Good article which I think I'll pass on to my husband. He's trying to loose at least 30 pounds, and it's slow going. I think the advice about only weighing yourself once a week while dieting is good, since he seems to be getting frustrated with daily weigh ins.