Is the Scale Helpful or Harmful?

For a solid two weeks, you followed your weight loss program to a “T”.  You followed the menu plan, you bought new kitchen tools, etc. But you step on the scale and feel defeated -the number is the same as it was two weeks ago.  Or worse, it’s gone up! First, keep the motivation, but tone down the tension.  You are definitely doing the right thing.  Plateaus can happen.  The really good news is that most plateaus are temporary and short-term.

A study tracking 16,000 men and women provides strong evidence that the scale is one of the most effective tools for losing body fat and keeping it off.  So, if you have goals of losing weight, it might be better to shift your relationship with the scale.  Here are five ways you can begin to make friends with your scale:

1. Weigh yourself daily.
Provides accountability and you can see your progress. In one study, daily weighers dropped twice as many pounds as weekly weighers.

2. Take the weekly average.
It’s normal for your daily weight to go up and down.  However, the key is to avoid riding the emotional roller coaster with your shifting scale weight.  Keep the big picture in mind and look for signs of long-term progress.

3. Don’t sweat fluctuations. There can be so many reasons why the scale is not moving. Keep in mind all the reasons for scale fluctuations, including:

  • You didn’t have bowel movement.
  • You consumed a lot of sodium.
  • You ate more food later at night, so it would be sitting in your stomach in the morning.
  • Carbohydrates will hold on to water, so if you consumed more carbs yesterday, you would retain water.
  • You are dehydrated.
  • You’ve had intense workouts, causing inflammation.
  • You’ve been sick.
  • You started a new supplement.
  • Your sleep hasn’t been consistent.
  • You feel stressed out.
  • Menstrual cycle approaching.

4. More muscle is a good thing.
If you are exercising, there is a good chance you are adding muscle! And muscle is much denser than fat, which means it takes up less volume than an equal mass of fat. This explains why it’s possible to become slimmer without a significant drop in weight.

5. Promotes good habits.
Another study found that daily weigh-ins led to “greater adoption of weight control behaviors”, such as reducing snacks between meals, cutting back on dessert portions sizes, exercising for 30 minutes or more and increasing daily steps.