How a Scale Can Help You Lose Weight (or totally f*ck everything up)

Right now I’m working on losing weight and sharing my results every week on my blog. This helps me to keep myself accountable. And it’s just a fun way to share with my readers what’s going on in my life at the moment. I know a lot of you guys are also on your own weight loss journey and connecting with others can make the process a little easier.

Anyway, when you’re trying to lose weight, it makes sense to monitor your weight loss progress by hopping on the scale. The very term “losing weight” implies it.

But is that really helpful?

Is there a right way and a wrong way to use a scale to lose weight?

Does it really make any difference either way?

Who should NOT use a scale?

These are some of the things I’ll cover in this post.

Should You Weigh Yourself in the Morning or Should You Weigh Yourself at Night?

I think the best time of day to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning, as soon as you get up, immediately after using the toilet but before eating or drinking anything.

I’ve been doing this for over two years now. And I’ve found that this specific timing gives me the most consistent results from day to day.

And that’s what you want when tracking your weight loss – consistent measurements.

Look again at the specific details of my weigh-in routine, and notice how they eliminate so many variables to give the most accurate, consistent body weight measurement.

  1. First thing in the morning
  2. Before engaging in any other activities
  3. Eliminate stool and urine first
  4. Before eating or drinking

Consistency and Accuracy Are Important for Tracking Your Body Weight

For the sake of accuracy, you want to be as consistent as possible and eliminate as many variables as possible. Eating or drinking before weigh-in would skew the numbers from one day to the next.

Morning activity levels can also vary, so you wouldn’t get as accurate a result if you weigh yourself later in the morning.

Even bowel movements can vary, so you should try to be consistent there too – either weigh yourself before using the toilet or after. Don’t mix it up.

Weighing yourself at night also presents many variables.

So many things happen throughout the day, and your physical activity, hydration levels and food intake can vary so much from one day to the next. Also, while most of us wake at the same time every day, bedtimes can be pretty random.

That’s why I think it’s preferable to weigh yourself first thing in the morning compared to at night before going to sleep.

Make It Part of Your Morning Routine

Lastly, I also find it easier to just make it a part of my morning routine so I don’t even have to think about it. I keep my scale in the bathroom now, since that’s the first place I head to when I wake up in the morning.

So it looks like this:

  1. Wake up and walk to the bathroom
  2. Use toilet and wash hands
  3. Step on scale and record weight in health app on my phone
  4. Get on with the rest of my morning routine and my day

How to Remember to Weigh Yourself Every Day

When I was trying to make this into a daily habit, I sometimes forgot to weigh myself after using the toilet. So I actually put a note on the toilet (since that’s always my first stop) to remind me to weigh myself after making doo-doo pee-pee doo-doo.

But then I still forgot sometimes.

So I changed the note.

The new note on the toilet reminded me to place the scale right in front of the door BEFORE using the toilet. That way I couldn’t leave the bathroom without banging the door into the scale or tripping over the scale on the way out.

It worked.

I only needed the note for a few days. And when I forgot again (which happens when attempting to form new daily habits), I just did the note thing again for a couple days. Now I consistently weigh myself every single day.

Should You Weigh Yourself Daily?

Now of course, that raises the next question about whether you should weigh yourself every day. Again, there are possible pros and cons here. But whether daily weigh-ins affect you positively or negatively all depends on your mindset and sense of security vs fear.

Insecure people probably shouldn’t weigh themselves AT ALL (see below) – and certainly not every day. The daily fluctuations in weight would just freak them out too much.

But if you can use the scale as a tool and not get too emotionally attached to the numbers, then I think weighing yourself daily can be a really useful practice.

Should You Weigh Yourself at All?

A scale can be a useful tool for understanding how your body responds to the foods you eat, your water intake, daily activity levels and more. For anyone who is trying to lose weight, it is often considered a necessity.

But honestly, stepping on a scale is not a good idea for everyone.

People with a negative self-image and who are prone to depression and emotional eating might actually be better off by not weighing themselves at all. If the number on the scale makes you feel hopeless and causes you to spiral down into self-destructive behavior, then don’t weigh yourself at all.

Instead, just try to work on creating a more healthy home environment and daily lifestyle that supports your weight loss efforts and the development of new, healthy habits.

BAThROOM SCALE: friend or foe?

How to Not Freak Out About Weight Fluctuations

Don’t panic or get depressed when the number on the scale isn’t going your way.

Whenever you feel frustration and depression – or even self-loathing and disgust – about yourself and your weight, that feeling comes from lack of understanding.

Ignorance.

Ignorance fuels doubt and fear in your mind and causes you to feel all kinds of negativity. And if you continue in that state, your physical health can actually deteriorate.

You’ve got to educate yourself.

Now, this applies to all sorts of situations in life. But it’s especially true when it comes to tracking your weight loss or weight gain using a scale.

You cannot let those numbers drag you down.

I rarely get depressed anymore about the number I see on the scale. It doesn’t bother me like it once did.

And the reason is that I understand that daily weight fluctuations are totally normal. One little spike isn’t the end of the world. Nor is one sudden drop a cause to pop open the champagne.

Our body weight goes up and down from day to day, and even from hour to hour.

Look at this weight chart.

Take a minute to check the numbers and understand the information that it is telling you.

weight graph 1

This was my weight over the last few weeks. Notice how it has recently been fluctuating up and down from one day to the next. The numbers really start to get erratic on 11/20 because that’s when I started my 6-week weight loss challenge for these last 6 weeks of 2020.

Now, let’s also add in these two charts and notice the highlighted dates and body weight measurements. Note especially the difference in my weight from Nov 26 to Nov 27.

weight loss graph from Apple Health app on iPhone

Now, suppose you were the one trying to lose weight these past couple weeks.

Suppose that these are YOUR numbers.

If you checked your weight loss progress on the 27th (you gained 3 lbs), how would that make you feel?

In contrast, if you only weighed yourself a day later (on the 28th), how would that make you feel (you lost 1 lb)?

Do you see how the number on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story?

Do you see how your emotions can sabotage your weight loss journey if you attach too much importance to the number on the scale and just happened to weigh yourself on the “wrong” day?

Or if you weighed yourself on the “right” day – and celebrated your weight loss accordingly – what would happen if you weighed in five days later and saw that your weight loss evaporated and you regained that pound PLUS THREE MORE?

How would THAT make you feel?

Your emotions could be all over the place depending on which day you stepped on the scale, and that could really mess you up and cause you to binge or give up completely.

Why I Weigh Myself Every Day

This is why I’m glad I started weighing myself every day.

I’m so used to seeing these fluctuations that I don’t freak out when the number goes one way or the other because I know that it will bounce back soon enough.

I know that it takes sustained effort to make my weight continue trending upward (or downward).

I do pay attention to those numbers, though. I reference them when thinking about what I’m doing and eating on those days. And I know that small changes done consistently will move those numbers in the direction of my choice.

I don’t freak out because I UNDERSTAND that these fluctuations are normal.

I UNDERSTAND that the numbers alone are kind of meaningless and can be easily misinterpreted.

I UNDERSTAND that the numbers will also likely pull back the other way in a couple days with a few tweaks to my diet and activity levels – or even by doing NOTHING AT ALL.

But most importantly, I have learned to detach my emotions from the stats. Not that I do it perfectly 100% of the time. I still feel good when I see my numbers trending downward. But I keep it in check. I understand that the human body is very complex and that the changes on the scale have many contributing factors – some of which are beyond my control.

Because I have tracked my weight every single day for a couple years, I know that I can do everything right in terms of diet and exercise and still wake up the next morning to a weight gain. I also know that I can blow it BIG TIME yet take the weight back off in a day or two if I get right back on track.

But overall I know how my body weight responds to my diet, and I don’t tie my self-worth to the numbers.

What Do You Think?

  • How does the scale make you feel?
  • Does your emotional response come from UNDERSTANDING or INSECURITY when looking at the number on the scale?
  • Is your bathroom scale a merciless tormentor that sucks the soul right out of your body?
  • Or is it a useful tool that helps you better understand your body as you continue your weight loss journey?

2 thoughts on “How a Scale Can Help You Lose Weight (or totally f*ck everything up)

  1. When I think about it, I weigh myself every day. But, I only record them once per week…meaning I stand on my scale long enough for the Bluetooth to kick in. That’s only because I have it connected to MyFitnessPal, which is then connected to my personal Facebook account. And I don’t want my friends and family getting flooded with daily updates about my weight. lol.

    Aside from that, weighing daily is great for those who love data. I can compare intake vs output and see the difference the next day. This way, I know exactly how much I can eat and of what that will cause my weight to fluctuate each day.

    Yeah…I’m a dork with a spreadsheet. 🙂

    1. Spreadsheet dorks are the BEST kind of dorks =)

      That’s cool that you got a bluetooth scale thingie. I never even thought of that. My next scale will DEFINITELY be one that can connect to my iphone and automatically input the data into my Apple Health app.

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