The very first question you need to ask yourself is: “Will weighing myself (daily, weekly, periodically, etc.) help me or harm me?” There’s a variety of answers as to whether it should be daily, weekly, monthly — or not at all! Since there’s no magic answer for how often to weigh yourself, figuring out what is helpful and motivating for you as an individual is how you decide.
The Importance Of Weighing Yourself
- It shows if things are working.
Fat and muscle both weigh something, which means that losing fat will typically cause a decrease in body weight and building muscle will typically cause an increase in body weight. So what’s the best reason to weigh yourself regularly? To ensure that what you’re doing is actually working. Meaning, if your weight isn’t moving in the right direction for your goal, it’s a pretty good sign that your current diet/workout isn’t working and needs to be adjusted somehow.
- It shows if things are working at the ideal rate they should be.
In addition to just knowing if your body weight is moving in the right direction for your goal, there’s also the issue of whether your body weight is moving at the ideal rate for your goal. You see, depending on your exact goal and a few other factors specific to you and your body, there is a certain rate of weight loss and weight gain that is considered optimal. So what’s the second best reason to weigh yourself regularly? To ensure that your body weight is changing at the speed it should be (not too slow, not too fast).
The Problems With Weighing Yourself
- “Weight” is more than just fat or muscle.
There would be no downside to weighing yourself if the weight you lose and gain was guaranteed to always be either fat or muscle. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Your body weight can and very often does change as a result of a loss or gain in muscle, fat, water, glycogen, poop, food intake and more. That means daily fluctuations in body weight (plus extra monthly fluctuations for women) are extremely common and normal. And it’s this fact that causes 3 other problems…
- “Weight” alone tells us nothing about the composition of that weight.
The number on the scale only allows you to track your weight… not the composition of that weight. And since most of us want to lose fat (but not muscle) and gain muscle (but not fat), the composition of the weight we lose or gain is often more important than anything else. That’s why most people should do more than just weigh themselves to monitor progress. For example… use measurements, body fat percentage, pictures, mirror and so on.
- Unrelated fluctuations in weight can skew progress or lack thereof.
Let’s pretend you’re trying to lose fat, but your weight stays the same. Did you fail to lose fat, or did you lose fat successfully but have that weight counterbalanced by a gain of something else? And looking at it from the other side, are you incorrectly assuming that your lack of weight loss is a result of a gain in muscle when in reality you’re just failing to lose fat?
- Normal daily fluctuations in weight can drive a person crazy.
Some people just aren’t aware of the fact that it’s normal for their body weight to fluctuate, and this can easily cloud that person’s judgement about the effectiveness of their diet/workout and generally drive them insane. Hell, even when you know there are other factors influencing your scale weight every day, just seeing that number fail to move (or move in the wrong direction) can still get into your head and lead to all sorts of problems (making unnecessary changes, depression, eating disorders, etc.).
What Does All Of This Mean?
It means that you should weigh yourself regularly because it’s a useful tool for tracking progress, but at the same time realize that the numbers you are seeing aren’t always an accurate representation of what your body is doing. And the reason you need to know this is because it all plays a role in answering the questions we originally set out to answer…
So How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?
Weighing weekly can have its advantages — it allows you to track progress while still having six whole days to not focus on your weight.
For best results, pick a consistent day each week, and weigh yourself in the morning. Look for trends, but don’t get caught up in the minutiae. Recognize that it will take a few weeks to get a picture of where the trend is heading. This can be a good tool to help you feel accountable without making you ride the daily emotional roller coaster that is (or can be) the scale.
Some people opt for the occasional weight check-in. People may do this at home or rely on the scale at the gym or doctor’s office to get an idea of where they are. People who opt for the occasional weigh-in often have alternative ways of identifying weight shifts, like the way their clothes fit or how strong they feel while exercising.
There are many people out there who smash their scale and never look back. Some people find it helpful to focus on how they feel in their clothes, the balance of their meals and snacks and how they perform with their exercise rather than focusing on the number. This can be a valid way to approach health — there’s too much to health than a number on the scale!
If you are weighing yourself multiple times per day, stop! With rare exceptions, you should not weigh yourself more than once per day. Obsessing over a number on the scale can turn into a very problematic pattern that can disturb the peace and happiness in your life. If you decide to weigh yourself, the scale should be a tool that helps you, not harms you.
Overall, ask yourself about what is most helpful for you. For some, daily weigh-ins are the best route. For others, weighing less often is better for overall health. Each of us has different ways of experiencing things and inviting motivation and positivity into our lives. Find what works for you and stick to it!