Weighing yourself sounds like the most basic thing to do when you think of weight management – and a bathroom scale is usually the first investment, cause how else would you measure progress, right?
True enough, bathroom scales are the cheapest, easiest, and most convenient way to measure your weight but by experience, weight watchers would get obsessed with the number on the scale, weighing themselves all the time – right after waking up, right before a workout, right after a workout, right after binge-eating, right after a few hours of fasting, right after using the toilet, right before going to bed, or worse, right when you see a scale at someone else’s place.
This is an unhealthy habit, because a lot of factors cause your weight to change even in just a short period of time. Obviously, if you eat or drink something, your weight goes up. If you eat something extra-sweet or extra-salty, you tend to retain more water cause that’s your body’s way of normalizing the amount of solutes in your system until it decides to just flush the extra out. After using the toilet, your weight – again obviously – goes down.
Same thing about weighing yourself before and after a workout. You sweat some, but you drank some. There is no significant change in weight here. Side note: I just cringe at the idea of how some personal trainers would use this misinformation to show clients that the workout – relatively hard workout for client with little to no water breaks – was effective. You can easily shed 1 kilo of water weight after a 1 hour workout so blowing up very small changes on the scale is unethical sales practice.
For women, we undergo a cycle wherein hormones – and probably extra salt from extra food -stimulate water retention or bloating a week before having our period. So if you tend to get a bit crazy during this time, imagine how weighing yourself would contribute to that.
So what is the number 1 reason why you shouldn’t weigh yourself everyday?
Though the weighing scale is a useful resource for fitness, it can also be a source of anxiety, stress, and frustration. I know people who weigh themselves first thing in the morning and whether they admit it or not, it affects their emotional state as if their weight is a rating of self-esteem.
Simply put, numbers on a scale should not be your ultimate fitness goal; fixating on this one health indicator doesn’t even give you a whole picture of your state of health. At the end of the day, weight is just a number that rises and falls depending on your lifestyle, so the goal here is to have positive behavior change and sustainable health strategies.
How do you weigh yourself properly?
First of all, make sure that the weighing scale you use is reliable. I prefer analog bathroom scales for personal use, but I do away from the cheaper bathroom scales – the ones with graphic design. Calibrate it at least once a month and always check that it points to zero when no weight is place. Tip: Look for the Taylor or Salter brand when buying bathroom scales.
If you are more than 5 kilograms overweight, it is best to weigh yourself once a month or once every two weeks at the same day and at the same time. It is best to weigh yourself in the morning before breakfast wearing the least amount of clothes possible. Our weight during the day and at night can vary up to 4 kilos and you don’t want this to mess up your data – or your mind.
If you are less than 5 kilograms overweight, and have normal body mass index (weight-for-height), I highly recommend for you to stick to weighing yourself only once a month – one week after your period if you are female; Consider other indicators for body size and composition such as circumference measurements, percent body fat, and lean body mass.
You should use the same scale each time so you can get a more accurate clue of what is happening to your weight. This means sticking to you own bathroom scale and resisting your urge to weigh yourself at your friend’s place, at the gym, or at the clinic unless it’s mandated for work.
Lastly, make sure you weigh yourself on a flat, stable surface. A weighing scale on a rug or carpet will sink into it and register a heavier number. It is best if there is a permanent place for the weighing scale because frequent moving and handling can shorten the lifespan of the scale.