Should you weigh yourself every day?

Should you weigh yourself every damn day???

I hear the bathroom door close, the scale sliding out, and a beep. Every day.

It makes me crazy. But I love my wife, so I don’t say anything.

The reason it makes me crazy is because I have long been suspicious of the benefits of weighing yourself daily. To me, it seems like an invitation to mental distress and unhappiness.

IT CANNOT POSSIBLY BE A GOOD IDEA TO WEIGH YOURSELF EVERY DAY, RIGHT?

Right?

It depends.

The American Heart Association presented a study that found that daily weigh-ins promoted weight loss whereas weekly weigh-ins did not:

“Researchers tracked 1,042 adults over a year and found that people who weighed themselves once a week or less did not lose weight, while people who weighed themselves six or seven times a week averaged a 1.7 percent weight loss.”
Daily weigh-ins follow a behavioral change strategy called “self-monitoring,” which gives you continual data with which to determine if you are proceeding in the desired direction. If not, you can quickly course correct and adjust to get back on track before straying deep into the woods. Think of it this way; when you’re driving your car you’re almost never proceeding in a precisely straight line for more than a few seconds. It FEELS like you’re perpetually heading in a straight line, but you’re not.

Instead, you’re gently and very subtly adjusting the steering wheel from side-to-side to maintain an ALMOST straight line as your car weaves imperceptibly off-line a few inches. You don’t feel or notice it because, unconsciously, you’re continually nudging it back on track.

If you took your hands off the wheel, or just stopped paying attention, your car would veer into the adjacent lane and, eventually, off the road (unless you’re driving a Tesla).

This is the value of constant feedback. By being attentive when you drive you’re receiving data that is telling your brain, without you even knowing it, when you need to tap the car back in line.

Daily weigh-ins serve the same purpose.

HOWEVER.

It can also make you crazy, and that’s my concern. 

Daily weigh-ins, for some people, become an obsessive and anxiety-producing event that shapes their mood for the whole day.

Remember; your weight can fluctuate a few pounds a day for reasons not related to your behavior (hydration, digestion, fluid retention, hormones). If you use the scale as the sum total of your value for the day, you’re asking for trouble.

In that case, you might be a candidate for less frequent weigh-ins. Or not weighing in at all (I get weighed in at the doctor once a year and that’s pretty much it).

So, what’s the conclusion?

If weighing-in daily makes you feel like shit, stop doing it.

I think (and this is just my personal opinion, not science) that the value of daily weigh-ins depends upon whether you have an actual plan in place for losing/managing weight that includes daily actions for optimizing sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management and environment or if you’re just winging it.

If you have a plan in place that includes:

  • A sleep hygiene protocol that puts you on the path to getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night so that sleep deprivation doesn’t promote increased cortisol, increased appetite, decreased desire to exercise and a powerful urge for sugary foods (all side effects of sleep loss)
  • A nutrition approach that maps out proper portions, balanced meals, a focus on natural foods instead of industrialized ones
  • Consistent physical activity
  • Stress management strategies that you employ every day to minimize stress hormones
  • Environmental design in which you create an ecosystem around you that promotes your desired result instead of one that works against it (something I’ll talk about soon)

Then you’re setting yourself up to succeed and it makes sense that you would want the input on a daily basis as to whether you’re proceeding in the desired direction. If you’re not, you can reevaluate your plan with your coach and make nudges to improve your results.If you’re just winging it, or doing nothing proactive at all, then stepping on the scale is a game of roulette. 

You’re hoping that the ball will land on red but it’s really out of your hands.

How do you know if you’re winging it?

“I’m going to eat cleaner.”

What does that mean? It’s not that it’s a bad idea, it’s just that it’s vague.

“I’m going to exercise more.”

How much more? What kind? Are you tracking it? If you’re setting a metric of “more” you better know what that means and how to measure it.

“I’m fine with 5 hours of sleep.”

No, you’re not. You may feel fine but the science says that, regardless of whether you feel accustomed to insufficient sleep, your body is suffering on a physiological, biological and neurological level.

You get the picture. Specificity produces specific results.

So, the verdict on daily weigh-ins is this:

It’s working for my wife. She has a plan in place and the daily feedback reinforces when she’s following it, when she’s not, and what adjustments, if any, need to be made.

It helps her stay at her desired weight and not drift up to a weight that makes her unhappy.

But if it just makes you feel bad, or if you don’t have a plan in place and are either doing nothing or winging it, it’s probably not a productive and beneficial approach for you.

Sometimes you just need to listen to yourself and trust what you feel.

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Jonathan Aluzas is co-owner of Arena Fitness, a fitness center that offers group training in Encino as well as personal training in Northridge.