What Is The Value in Weighing Yourself Regularly?

Here’s a topic that comes up all the time in the weight loss world:

 “Should you weigh everyday?

Although I definitely have my own opinions on this topic, I don’t have the definitive answer because I do not think there is just a single “correct” way to handle this.

All I can do is share with you how I approached the scale at three different points on my journey.

When I was gaining weight at a fast rate, I rarely stood on the scale. In case you don’t know my “weight gain” story, I gained about 50 pounds in the first three years of my marriage and 75 pounds with my first pregnancy.

After my first child was born I hated getting on the scale at all, so had no desire to stand on the scale. My occasional visits to my doctor were enough to convince me that weighing myself did no good. All I felt was depression and the desire to stick my head into a bowlful of candy. When I was trying Weight Watchers or some other diet program I did weigh, but only because I had to.

During my final weight loss attempt I committed to myself to weigh every single day. I know, I know – a lot of you may disagree and that’s okay, but that is what worked for me. I weighed regularly to check in with myself. I checked in on my progress or lack thereof. Honestly, there were a lot of days when the scale bumped up or stayed the same, but I didn’t let those bumps scare me off. Instead, I became very attuned to my body and its normal monthly fluctuations.

I learned very quickly that weight loss is not a straight line down, but often shows a lot of bumps along the way. However, seeing the downward trend was motivating to me and I was able to see the plateaus and bumps as part of the process rather than a reason to quit.

Weighing daily kept me accountable.

After I reached my final weight I had to decide whether or not to continue with the daily weigh-ins. After some thought, I did decide to continue weighing daily and I’m glad I did. Fifteen years later, I still stand on the scale every morning. Personally, it keeps me honest with myself and accountable. I allow myself a 3 to 5 pound range to fluctuate within, and when the high number shows up on the scale, I take immediate action. I ramp up the exercise and watch the extra snacking that I may have allowed into my life.

There are studies that show that the benefits of weighing daily. A study from the University of Minnesota found that adults who weighed themselves daily while dieting, lost 12 pounds in 2 years, whereas people who weighed themselves weekly lost six pounds.  The daily weighers also had less of a tendency to regain their weight.  I have found this to be true – not only in my one-on-one interactions with people, but also in my weight loss class.  The people who weigh daily tend to lose more weight than those that don’t.

It is a personal choice, but if you are struggling with lack of progress, then consider weighing more frequently as that may actually help you in the long run. (As long as you can accept those normal fluctuations!)

Where are you on the scale issue? Do you weigh every day, every week, or have you thrown the thing out the window and rely on other measures to measure your progress and keep you accountable? Diane

Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

30 thoughts on “What Is The Value in Weighing Yourself Regularly?

  1. Karen P says:

    I’m also a daily weigh-in person. For the same reasons you are. Daily weighing keeps me accountable day in day out. I take quick action if I’m trending up.

    I use My Fitness Pal and I look at monthly , 2, & 3 month trends often. I do not shame myself; I act quickly and effectively and consider the scale a valuable tool to use. Daily weigh ins are in the top 3 tools that I use. It took 40 years to figure this out. Success. Great post , as always!

  2. Babbalou says:

    I’ve been maintaining my 30 lb. loss for years so I haven’t been weighing so regularly recently. During my loss I, like you, weighed daily. I didn’t sweat the little blips up because I KNEW what I was eating so knew if I was on track or not. I only tracked in my diary the new lows – the hope was that there’d be a new low every week. When there wasn’t, I’d try to figure out why. A typical weekly loss was about 0.4 lbs per week. Slow, but sustainable, and not difficult to maintain. I knew I’d need to eat like that forever. One thing that helped tremendously was the purchase of a digital scale. My old dial scale wasn’t able to show the very small losses that I was able to achieve (I was in my 50’s, post menopausal).

  3. Contemplative FItness says:

    I opened and read the study. Anytime I read the sentence,

    “While more research as to be done…”

    I step back a bit.

    The study I want to see done, which I have yet to see done, is the study seeking to identify a possible link between depression and the chronic use of the scale.

  4. Sarah says:

    I also weigh in daily, partly to keep me accountable, and partly because a weekly weigh in seemed to make my brain think it was fine to eat what I wanted the day after I weighed myself because I had a whole week to sort it out!

    To stop the stress over daily weight fluctuations, I take a rolling 7 day average of my weight and treat that as my actual weight. That sounds like more effort than it is – I just pop the number in a spreadsheet on my phone every morning and copy the formula.

    I think weighing regularly is a key tool to weight maintenance, unless you have an eating disorder that finds the number to be a trigger to disordered behaviour.

  5. Gwen /Sunny says:

    Not stepping on the scale has become a Red Flag for myself that I know I’m cheating and don’t want to acknowledge it. Hence, I make sure I weigh now every day. I am learning so much about my choices…because of it. I’m now working on NOT beating myself up for the ‘bumps’, as you call them, Diane. Once I triumph over that, I’ll be golden!

  6. Dr. J says:

    I feel the scale is a useful tool. A hammer is a useful tool, of course you can hit yourself on the thumb with it too.

    Roy, I have never needed to say, “more studies need to be done…” after any study I was involved in. The study protocols were always designed to give an answer 🙂 Sometimes I think that unfortunately, the goal of getting present and future studies funded becomes more important than the studies themselves!

  7. Joe says:

    I have flip flopped all over the place on the frequency of my weigh ins. I tried weekly and monthly seeing whats bests works for me. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that weekly weigh ins are best for me. It’s frequent enough to make sure I change my diet/exercise if I need to make a change.

  8. Kara says:

    In my first session with the cognitive behaviour therapist, she encouraged me to step on the scale. She explained to me that when you don’t weigh yourself for a long period of time, you can be completely shocked by the number. By weighing yourself regularily, the number (whatever it is) is no longer shocking.

    I think it took me close to six months to set up on the scale. I was shocked, but now I’m fine. Sometime I weigh myself everyday, sometimes once a week and at Christmas time, once every two weeks.

    I look for progress rather than the individual weigh ins each week. I know that the number on the scale reflects all sorts of things including water and um other stuff.

  9. Madijo @ Fixing Me says:

    I weigh myself every day. I am amazed on how much I have learned about my body by doing this. I keep a record of my daily weigh ins (with a little note), so I can see certain trends like the fluctuations that occur because of the TOM, or eating a meal with too much salt. I use the scale as a tool to keep me on track, not a mood decider.

  10. Jody - Fit at 55 says:

    I still stand on the scale every morning. Personally, it keeps me honest with myself and accountable. I allow myself a 3 to 5 pound range to fluctuate within, and when the high number shows up on the scale, I take immediate action. I ramp up the exercise and watch the extra snacking that I may have allowed into my life.

    That describes me Diane & have done it for lots & lots & lots of years!!! With age.. I try not to go beyond 3 pounds now because things are so different with age…

  11. Adelyn says:

    I apparently have a more middle ground approach. In the beginning when I had 100 lbs to lose I stepped on the scale every week. That way I had to trust all week that the things I were doing would make a difference. So I kept myself more accountable that way. Once I got to about 20 lbs from my goal I started to weigh every day. I wanted to know what made a difference and what didn’t. I sometimes even weigh more than once in a day to see how different it is in the morning compared to the night, etc. When the number is really “good” (good and bad is a problem for another day…) I sometimes have felt more “permission” to eat something…but now that I am within 10 lbs of my goal I am motivated to get there.

  12. Lindsay says:

    I’m a weigh-once-a-week kind of girl. Anything more than that and I would make myself crazy, but you’re completely right– everyone has to find what works for them. For me it’s Wednesday mornings– I hop on the scale and upload that number into myfitnesspal. I love that it gives you a graph showing total lost so far. Seeing that downward trend is definitely helpful on days when the scale isn’t exactly where you hoped it would be!

  13. Tanvee says:

    I personally don’t like weighing myself daily, I use the scales twice a week (Monday and Thursday), the Monday weigh in helps me keep my weekend on track . My focus is usually on keeping my Thursday weigh in (before weekend) and Monday weigh in (after weekend) in-line.
    I would not be able to survive without a scale 🙂 but I also think it is important to keep track of your measurements, I have noticed there are times when my inches go down but my scale show no change..(I noticed this especially after I had reached my normal weight)..maybe it has something to do with toning…

  14. Taryl says:

    Almost all the time I’m a daily weigher. I have to have an awfully good reason (like pregnancy 😉 ) to not get on every morning. It’s my first line of defense against regain, right next to my food log. Between watching my input and tracking my output I can change my habits (if needed) before I go outside my range. Daily weighing is a must.

  15. Janis says:

    FWIW, I weigh daily. I feel like a total fraud having an opinion about this because I’ve never struggled with my weight, but nevertheless I suppose there’s value in just saying that even “naturally” thin people have reasons to track our weight. I’ve always heard (sometimes said very gleefully to me) that middle age is when people start to spread, and I figured okay, I’m NOT going to spread. So when I turned 45, I bought my very first bathroom scale.

    So I hop on every morning before I get in the shower. It’s actually given me more information than I thought, mostly that my weight goes slowly up by about two pounds over the course of a week, and then I drop it all off by Monday morning since I don’t tend to eat much over the weekends. Just that was interesting.

    It also confirms when I’ve eaten more than usual for a given reason. Last time I made a batch of cookies, the scale was indeed up over its normal reading for a week.

  16. Alli says:

    I’ve lost 117 pounds and I weigh myself every day. I have a spreadsheet where I log my daily weight so that occasionally when I feel like I’m stuck on a plateau, I can take a step back and look to see how much I weighed two weeks ago or a month ago. Often times, I surprise myself and realize that I’ve only been on this plateau for a short time instead of the months and months that I feel like I have.

    My doctor and wellness nurse at work have advised me many times not to do that, but I still do. I like to use it as a guide to know how strict I need to be in my diet and exercise routine for the day.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Like many others have said, I too didn’t weigh myself when I was extemely obese. If I’m not weighing myself, it is usually out of shame and disappointment. However, I don’t do the daily weigh-in but I did find the research information interesting. I can get too caught up in “the” number to do it daily. I was thin in college but not in a healthy way – starved myself and I was obsessed with weigh-ins. I know what my mind and body can handle, and I think that is what everyone must consider when choosing how many times to weight. Great post.

  18. KarenJ says:

    There are times when I’ve weighed myself every day and then felt obsessive, so I’ve cut back to once a week. I’ve been trying to lose “the last 5 pounds” for a very long time, and it’s not happened in spite of my efforts, so I feel like weighing myself constantly just increases the frustration and disappointment. I feel that how my clothes fit are a better indicator of where I am in terms of my goals.

  19. Julie says:

    I have decided to weight in once a week, on Tuesdays. (Picked arbitrarily because I started January 1st and it was a Tuesday!) I also decided to weigh in on the 1st of the month (a Saturday) so I would have a total for the month.

  20. Amy Marie says:

    I just started weighing myself every morning…I count my “official” weight for the week on Fridays, but am checking in to keep myself going and encouraged! 🙂

  21. Jodi @ Jodi, Fat or Not says:

    I go through phases…for most of my weight loss I was a weekly weigh in person…then became daily. If I feel myself getting too caught up over the number I pull back and take a break from the scale for a few days, but I know that the scale will always be a part of my life in someway and I’m ok with that as long as it doesn’t affect how i see myself.

  22. Marc says:

    I officially weigh-in once a month. The reason this works for me is because I found myself steering towards crash dieting when I had a goal to meet every week. So for me…5 lbs a month is easier with only one official weigh-in. I probably step on the scales once a week for the first two weeks after an official weigh-in. Then as I approach the next official weigh-in date I weigh more frequently.

  23. Caron says:

    I weigh myself almost every day. If I skip a day, it will probably be Sunday just because we tend to eat one meal a week out and that is usually on Saturday. I know that I won’t gain from that one meal but I might be up on the scale because of more sodium and I don’t want to face it. 🙂

  24. evilcyber says:

    I handle it the same way, because *not* controlling my weight led me to being overweight. It’s like thinking, “if I don’t stand on the scale and face the cold, hard truth, I simply won’t be overweight.”

    That being said, the crucial point for me in weighing daily is that it’s not the one single number that is important, but the trend. Spikes may just be fluctuations and only when a trend emerges over several days, there is reason to take action.

    I also set a simple “safety margin”, which is ideal weight + / – 2 kg (4 lbs). So if my ideal was 75 kg and I end up at 77, I know I have to cut back a bit, but the amount is so small that it can easily be done in two weeks. It’s only when you let it grow to 10, 20 or more pounds that you have to lose again, that things start looking like insurmountable obstacles.

  25. Siobhan says:

    I’m kind of erratic about weighing in, more because I just forget some times. But if I’m purposefully NOT getting on the scale, then I know it’s time to make sure I do.

  26. I ❤ 2 Eat says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head with accountability – for you it was the scale, for me it’s my “face”…haha…I used to think that I imagine its roundness when I put on weight, but it shows on my face first before anywhere else.

    I only weigh myself sporadically. I used to feel so bad about my weight all the time. Then I just stopped weighing myself, and not letting it control me as much as I’d let it most of my life. Now it’s just a number – or that’s how I want it to be!

    Thank you for sharing!

  27. adams says:

    I think it depends on the individual involved. some people tend to get discouraged easily, so weighing daily might actually be a set back.
    i think weighing oneself regularly or at certain intervals (maybe weekly) is more productive than doing it daily.

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