The Dangers of Infrequent Weigh-Ins

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.

Weighing Frequency

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


5 thoughts on “The Dangers of Infrequent Weigh-Ins

  1. Elizabeth-Anne says:

    I got sick and tired after 32 plus years, the battle continues, of focusing on numbers. I bought myself one of those scales that let you know how much you’ve gone up or down, but never tell you what you weigh, when you start, in the middle or at the end.

    I used to go on my scale multiple times a day, removing rings and necklaces just to make it go down that 1/8 of a pound that I thought I deserved. Now approaching my mid 50s and still obese, I am so done with numbers and scale obsession. But that is me, everybody is different.

  2. Sheila says:

    I personally weigh in only once a week. I’ve been told by friends that they weigh in every day write down the weigh and at the end of 7 days they add all the numbers together and divide by 7 to get their average weight. I really don’t know what’s best.

    Thanks for being their and encouraging us to get healthy.

  3. Susan says:

    I bought a lovely new scale and now I weigh everyday. I too find it useful to see how my body weight fluctuates day to day, it actually makes me less anxious because I know a gain of 500 grams is usually just a fluid change and not my personal failure.

  4. Kitty says:

    I’m firmly in the daily weigh in camp for just the reasons you state. Well, one other also. There is also sometimes just some random variation that doesn’t really seem to be tied to anything specific. It wasn’t the sodium or TOM or whatever. It is just a variation. Weighing daily I see that all the time so it doesn’t really throw me when it happens.

    Weighing daily desensitizes me some to the scale. I don’t get through by a weird fluctuation up or down. Used to it would craze me to go to my Weight Watchers weekly weigh and have a gain that really shouldn’t have been. It bothers me less now (I still don’t like it, of course) if the morning before I had weighed at home at 2 pounds less and the day of weigh in there is a sharp jump up.

    For me, when I don’t weigh regularly (at least every 2 to 3 days) there are two risks. One is I get out of the habit of weighing and if not attending WW meetings (where I weigh weekly), it can be months before I get back to it. I do better having a routine (weigh myself each morning) than getting out of the routine and just weighing whenever.

    More importantly, when I weigh regularly that means I’m paying attention to my weight and what I eat and what I do. I’m making weight management important to me. If I’m not weighing, then I’m not making it important and the odds are tremendous that I’m gaining weight.

    I know that isn’t true for everyone, but it is sure true for me.

  5. Leah (goodnight, cheese) says:

    I was weighing myself every day for a while, and then just “counting” the one on Wednesdays, and it was fine for a bit. Then I realized that it was causing me to be way too focused on the number – more than was helpful. If I was down a pound from Wednesday to Wednesday (the ones I counted), I wouldn’t be as happy if I had been up a pound the day before. I couldn’t tell the real losses from the fluctuations.

    Now I weigh myself once a week, which seems to be better for me right now. But like you said, it’s a really personal decision and what’s good for one person could be crazy-making for another.

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