I know that discussing the frequency of weigh-ins is not a popular topic. There are 101 different ideas on what is the right frequency of weigh-ins when you are losing weight and maintaining weight.
The opinions are as varied as people. I will say right off the bat that I am an advocate of very regular weigh-ins. I personally chose to weigh each day. I recommend that my weight loss clients and class participants weigh in at least once a week.
I can see why there is controversy on weighing frequency. The scale is definitely not the only indicator of success but it is one of the primary indicator of success. Other indicators are equally as important, but ignoring one indicator at the expense of the other is short sighted in my opinion.
I loved it when I was able to leave the Plus Size departments at stores and move into the “regular” sizes. I rejoiced when I could measure my hips with just one tape measure instead of having to use a string. And I definitely enjoyed seeing my cheekbones emerge, ditching the pretend wedding ring I had worn because my real one was too tight, and seeing my body change in positive ways.
I get that the scale isn’t the only measure of success. However, I also believe that infrequent weigh-ins can backfire for a lot of people. One time, when I was teaching a weight loss class of about 20 people, there were some women who did not want to weigh at least once a week. Instead they wanted to weigh at the beginning and end of the 12 week class. I said, “That’s fine.” Because it was. It is always an individual choice.
Interestingly, the women who weighed more frequently lost more weight than the ladies who just weighed at the beginning and end of the 12 weeks.
There is a recent study that came out in the PLOS ONE Journal that studied the relationship between weighing frequency and weight loss results. The researchers studied a small group of participants and discovered that participants who weighed in at least once a week lost more weight than the people who weighed in less frequently. The average time between weigh-ins was 5.8 days. According to the researchers:
Weight loss took place during periods of daily self-weighing, whereas breaks longer than one month posed a risk of weight gain. The findings emphasize that missing data in weight management studies with a weight-monitoring component may be associated with non-adherence to the weight loss programme and an early sign of weight gain.
It is important to note this was a small study but it lines up with my 16 years experience in the weight loss field. People who weigh more frequently tend to lose weight more consistently than those people who go longer periods between weigh-ins. Here are some factors that influence that.
1. The Accountability Factor
Committing to a weight loss program, following your plan, and having accountability are all part of the process. Standing on the scale at a designated time helps you stay accountable to your program and your plan.
2. The “Oh No” Factor
If you stand on the scale regularly, you see immediately when your weight sneaks up. You can tell yourself, “Oh, No. I am not going to go backwards with my weight loss efforts.” You can assess what you have been doing and make appropriate changes.
3. The Learn Your Body Factor
Standing on the scale every day taught me about my body’s normal fluctuations. I learned not to panic over a pound here or there once I knew that hormonal cycles, sodium intake, lack of water, and even exercise affected my weight. Regular weigh-ins can put you in touch with your body’s rhythms and that’s always a good thing.
Your weigh-in frequency is an individual decision. You have to find the balance between driving yourself crazy and keeping yourself accountable. I would encourage you to start with a weighing a minimum of once a week and see how that works for you. As you progress, you will see the scale move, your clothing size shrink, and your body measurements get smaller. Watch for all the positive aspects of weight loss and let a regular weigh-in be one tool in your weight loss arsenal.
Where do you stand on regular weigh-ins? What’s the right frequency for you? Diane