Are you trying to lose weight and not sure if you should weigh yourself, and if so, how often? Here are a few options to consider:
1. Some avoid weighing themselves
Some patients report that weighing themselves can be discouraging or upsetting, so they avoid the scale and prefer instead to monitor how their clothes fit or how they look. This is understandable. Why weigh yourself if it only discourages you from staying on course? However, while this strategy can work for some individuals, there are some pitfalls. While not weighing yourself will reduce the ups and downs that accompany your weight changes, it can be difficult to accurately detect changes in weight in the range of 2-5 lbs and for some 10 lbs or more by clothes or appearance alone. Why is this a problem? If a person weighs themselves more frequently, they may be able to detect weight gains sooner, look to identify the causes, and make changes to correct. I'd rather try and correct a 3 lb weight gain than a 5 or 10 lb. I once met a new patient who hadn't weighed themselves in 6 months. They'd gained 20 lbs prior to us meeting and had no idea! This may be an extreme example, but for some, whether it be 3, 5, or 10 lbs or more, it's best to catch weight gain as early as possible (such as 2-3 lbs) and more frequent weighing may help. On the other hand, if someone can manage their weight without weighing themselves and use their appearance or the fit of clothing alone, more power to them.
2. Some weigh themselves once per week
Others prefer to weigh themselves more often, approximately once per week. The benefit of this approach is that it allows them to recognize smaller weight gains, take action, and reverse course. In addition, if they lost weight, they'll be encouraged to stay on track with their weight loss program. For many, this is a tried and true method that helps them monitor their weight on a regular basis, avoid the ups and downs of more frequent weighing, and correct minor weight changes over the week.
3. Some weigh daily or most days of the week
What is the main benefit of daily weighing or most days of the week? Daily weighing can quickly cue a patient to the cause of a weight change, up or down. For example, if a person notices an approximately 1/2-1 lb weight gain each morning after eating higher calorie take out or dinner out the night before, then it may provide the motivation to eat out less or eat a little lighter when eating out. On the flip side, if a person weighs only once per week, less often, or not at all, it may be harder to zero in on the exact cause of the weight gain, particularly over a seven day period or more. A morning weight allows some relatively instant feedback. Now, if a patient tells me that they get discouraged with daily or frequent weighing, we will reduce the patient self weighing to less often or only in my office. The key to reaching your weight loss goal is to find nutritional and behavioral strategies that work and self weighing more frequently can be a great tool for some, whether once per week, most days of the week, or daily! Last but not least, don't forget to write down your weights and the date taken to have a written log (computer, phone or paper), to kept accurate record keeping!
Yours in great health!
Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN