If there’s one thing dieters hate even more than the prospect of losing weight and altering their eating habits, it’s stepping onto the scale and obsessing over the little numbers that glare up at them. Who would think such a simple mechanism could hold so much power over our psyches and self-esteem? Taken out of context, the numbers that appear don’t mean anything-they merely represent a numerical value, but for many people trying to lose weight, those numbers are everything. Many place their entire self-worth into their weight.
Well, I have some good news. You may think that the only way you’ll ever lose weight is to keep daily tabs on the number on the scale, but I want everyone to know that’s not the case. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make in their weight loss plan is to weigh themselves every day. This torturous act is both unnecessary and inaccurate.
There’s a fine line between control and compulsion. It’s good to take control of your weight, and for some, monitoring one’s weight regularly is a strategy for staying in control. But this routine can easily turn into an obsession and that’s where the scale becomes dangerous, leading to discouragement or even the development of an eating disorder.
Here are some specific reasons why checking your weight daily can be dangerous:
Discouragement: It’s easy to feel defeated when the numbers on the scale don’t reflect all the effort you put into your weight loss plan. You may think, “But that’s not fair! I gave up sweets and exercised every day this week! How have I not lost any weight?” Sometimes, when we expect the numbers on the scale to go down, they defy our expectations and go up. This is normal and, as frustrating as it may be, you’re not alone. However, if you become discouraged every time you experience a setback in your weight loss goals, you could easily decide to throw in the towel completely and give up on your diet.
Not an accurate representation: It may be easy to become discouraged, but before you give into negativity, you need to realize that daily fluctuation of your weight is completely natural. The main reason you may have lost a few pounds one day only to gain it back the next day (with no drastic changes to your diet) is water retention. Minor fluctuations are natural and occur daily, so instead of weighing yourself every day and fixating on the short-term, you should focus on long-term goals.
There are much better ways to assess if your weight loss efforts are paying off. Primarily, it comes down to how you feel. Do you feel healthy? Does your body feel a little tighter and leaner? Are your clothes fitting more loosely? Do you feel like you have more energy and strength propelling you through the day? Is exercising becoming easier. These are the questions you should be asking yourself. Becoming a healthier version of yourself isn’t all about losing weight, and it’s most often a gradual process that’s more like a marathon than a sprint. Keep in mind, muscle actually weighs more than fat and the scale won’t be able to tell if you’ve lost fat and gained muscle.
So, what can you do to monitor your weight without becoming addicted to the scale? For starters, get into the habit of weighing yourself less. Cutting your weigh-ins down to once a week rather than every day will allow you to focus on your goals without becoming discouraged. It will also help to be consistent, so weigh yourself on the same scale at the same time of day on the same day of the week. If you want the most accurate reading, you should weigh yourself in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink. Make it one of the first things you do when you get up, because as you eat and drink throughout the day, your weight will fluctuate.
If there’s one piece of advice you should take away from this article, it’s not to become discouraged! Losing weight is not a competition and everyone goes at it at their own pace. What matters is that you make a concerted effort. Weight loss takes time, but if you stick to your goals and limit yourself to one weigh-in per week, you’ll start to notice results.