Weight Loss with HEALTHeME

Weight loss and good health made simple

Monday, February 13, 2012

Read This Before You Weigh Yourself!

Let me paint a picture for you: you’re on a diet and, as of today, you and your walking shoes have become better friends. On Monday, you weigh yourself; on Tuesday morning, you check in on your progress by hopping on the scale. You’re super excited when you see that you lost 2 pounds overnight. Woot, woot! By Wednesday, you step on the scale again, holding out hope that you might be at your goal weight by now. You stare blankly at the scale, realizing you have gained back those 2 pounds plus one. Oy vey! What’s the deal?

According to some experts, your weight can fluctuate up to 5 pounds from one day to another. Changes in your weight are due to things like water retention, water losses, and bloating. If you step on the scale on a daily basis, you are going to notice every little up and down. So, what’s the “right” number of times to step on your scale? Sigh. I know you were hoping for a simple answer with a magic number, but like most weight loss questions, it just isn’t that straight forward. The frequency with which you track your pounds is really all about your personal preferences.

For most people, weighing themselves once per week is enough to keep them on track, without feeling as though they’re on an emotional roller coaster. But, if you’re a person who responds well to accountability, then daily weigh-ins might just be the way to keep you on track. One study found that 68% of dieters who did not weigh themselves on a daily basis gained at least 5 pounds over the course of the 18-month study. Daily weigh-ins have helped many people stay accountable for their actions. If you're going to go this route, you just have to cozy-up to the idea that you could see fluctuations in your weight every day.

Regardless of whether you weigh yourself once a week or once a day, one thing is clear: you’ve got to weigh yourself regularly if you want to enjoy long-term weight loss success. According to the findings from the National Weight Control Registry, study participants who weighed themselves regularly were able to lose 10% of their body weight and keep it off for at least one year. In fact, 75% of the participants who maintained their weight loss weighed themselves at least once per week, with many stepping on the scale every day.

If it keeps you focused to weigh yourself each day, great! If the fluctuations in your weight make you frustrated and you lose momentum, then just check-in once per week. No matter how you decide to keep your eye on the scale, you have to set a realistic goal. Most experts agree that a weight loss of 1-2 pounds each week is the kind of gradual loss that you can actually sustain over the long term. And, remember to write down your numbers to track your progress. After all, you’ve got to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.