How often should you weigh yourself?
Once per day, twice per day, once per week, once per month…
There are numerous research studies citing that weighing yourself regularly for managing your weight is crucial. But I have a problem with these studies.
Firstly, the number of participants in all the studies I’ve looked at were small (1), which means that the results may not apply to the general population. Secondly, they knew that they were part of a research study. When you know you are accountable in this way, it can change your behaviour. Thus the results may have had nothing to do with weighing themselves, but just that their weight loss was being monitored by others. How many times have you attended a slimming club and been reasonably successful? You know that they are going to weigh you every week and you don’t want to embarrass yourself by not losing weight. But the minute you don’t go, the weight piles back on.
This research shows numbers, percentages, data, which can be important to know. But there’s a factor missing if we are using this information to manage our weight. There is no research that takes into account what weighing ourselves does to our mindset, and how this affects our relationship with food.
Weighing yourself brings up feelings, and feelings can sabotage our weight loss goals.
When my clients get on the scales and they have put on or not lost weight, these are some of the ways they describe how they feel about themselves:
A failure, un-attractive, despondent, horrible, ugly, depressed, good for nothing, huge, obese, fat…
When they have lost weight, they describe how they feel as:
Wonderful, slimmer, so happy, winning, confident…
Whether you have lost weight or gained weight it frequently leads to self sabotage. Either you give up because ‘what’s the point’, or you ‘treat’ yourself because you can. Or it can lead to disordered eating, missing meals and compromise your health and wellbeing.
Don’t you think it’s really sad that how we feel about ourselves is dictated by an electronic device? And what you’re seeing on the scales isn’t even a true picture of what’s going on.
Your weight is a piece of information, one piece of data, but it’s not a true representation of how you are managing your weight. Many other factors affect how much you weigh.
- Weight loss is not a linear line. Some people get stressed when the dial doesn’t move and this can lead to restriction and/or bingeing
- Bowel habits can affect our weight, whether it’s because we haven’t digested our food, are constipated or going more frequently than usual
- Women who are menstruating, hold on to water because of fluctuations in their hormone levels. Women often experience cravings and eat more and move less as they feel more lethargic. Weight returns to normal when menstruation has finished
- As men age, hormones play a role in how much they eat and this can affect what they see on the scales
- Eating less carbs one day and more the next alters how much water your body is holding on to. This is why if you eat a lot of carbohydrates on a weekend, after eating none in the week, your weight suddenly shoots up. It is not a true reflection of your general weight
- If you’ve eaten more salt than usual, your body will retain more water. You may weigh more that day
- One of my clients weighed herself and was so devastated that she had put on 5lbs, thst she immediately went on a binge. Then she realised that her scales were broken… Our scales do not always weigh accurately
My advice is for you to throw the scales away, or at least weigh yourself no more than once a month. They do not serve you, or your emotions.
If you would like to discuss your weight story with me, please get in touch here.
- Brockmann AN, Eastman A, Ross KM. Frequency and Consistency of Self-Weighing to Promote Weight-Loss Maintenance. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020 Jul;28(7):1215-1218. doi: 10.1002/oby.22828. Epub 2020 May 21. PMID: 32437055; PMCID: PMC7311265.