Should You Weigh Yourself? The pros and cons of using the scales

wellbeing

Should You Weigh Yourself? The pros and cons of using the scales

wellbeing

Should you weigh yourself? The pros and cons of using the scales for weight loss via Wholeheartedly Healthy

In my 3 years of 1-2-1 health coaching around weight loss, one of the topics that comes up again and again is whether or not to use the scales to weigh yourself. As with everything weight loss related, the answer isn’t so straight forward and there are certainly pros and cons of using the scales.

Firstly, something I say to every single client is that we don’t walk around with our weight tattooed on our forehead! When we say we’d like to lose weight, what we actually mean is that we’d like to be smaller and slimmer. In that respect, the number on the scales is pretty pointless. Add to that the fact that the same weight will look completely different on each individual woman, and even the same weight on the same woman can look different depending on body fat and muscle ratio, it’s really not the best measure.

So why do so many of us use the scales? They are the easiest way to measure progress because generally weight loss equates to a smaller, slimmer body, which as I said, is the real aim here. We can measure ourselves with measuring tape and use the fit of our clothes, but the scales are still the fastest and most concrete way to know that your body is changing. This can be very motivational for some people.

However, the problem with the scales lies in the following facts:

– The scales can only measure your body mass in relationship to gravity. It can not measure healthiness, happiness, intelligence or changes in your body shape.

– It’s very easy to misuse them. How often have you weighed yourself every day and started to obsess over the number? That can have a damaging effect on your relationship with food, your body and your self esteem.

– They lie. As much as we believe they are accurate, they aren’t. You can weigh yourself at different times of the day or on a different set of scales and get a different result. The amount of water in your body can impact the number, as can your hormonal fluctuations.

– The change in the number is easy to share, and when you share it with others and get praised for it you can end up going down a dangerous road of self worth being attached to your weight loss. Think of any time you’ve told someone you’ve lost a few pounds, generally it’s met with praise from others. Just try and remember what is more praise worthy like your achievements and your kindness.

In my experience, the only way to use the scales successfully to measure weight loss is:

– Use the same set of scales, on the same surface, at the same time of day at the same time each week (never multiple times a week)

– Try not to get caught up in the actual number, focus more on the change in that number

– Use other methods of measurement towards your goals as well – body measurements, the fit of your clothes and also ensure you’re measuring other positive changes as a result of a healthier lifestyle. That’s why I created my Fabulous Scale that I use in the Fabulous YOU course.

– Only use them if you’re the kind of person that can handle the ups and downs. If seeing a gain one week will spiral you off into a binge and wondering why the f**k you bothered, then stay away from them, they aren’t worth it! You have to know you can handle the ups and downs.

If your main goal is to be healthy and happy, then you don’t need to use the scales if you don’t want to. As I said, there are loads of other ways to measure progress, they might just take a little longer to show you the results. The best way to handle that is to not focus on the result and instead focus on the journey.

You can read more of my series of posts on weight loss here:

The Truth About Losing Weight

How to track for health, wellbeing and weight loss (get your FREE tracking sheets!)

Want to know more about losing weight the Wholeheartedly Healthy way? Check out the Fabulous YOU programme!

What’s your relationship with the scales? Do you use them very often? 

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10 Comments

  1. LilyLipstick

    Love this post – I have gone from weighing myself multiple times per day, to avoiding the scales for over a year (during which I did gain weight) and now weighing twice per week which works for me as I think I need to weigh to know that I’m staying on track although I do think that weighing can be very negative. Our society has such a fixation on weight and weight loss that it’s hard to get out of the mentality sometimes. x

    Reply
    • Laura@wholeheartedlyhealthy

      It’s certainly a hard balance to find, I do know others (and myself) who have gained when not keeping an eye on it. It’s definitely a difficult one to figure out!

      Reply
  2. AnnaTheApple

    I think it’s good to have a measurement of change when you’re trying to get healthier and lose a bit of weight. However I’m not sure weight is the best way forward. If you’re going to the gym a lot and using weights then it might be a case that you don’t change weight at all but you do change body composition – because you gain muscle while losing fat. And a number not changing might be disheartening to someone working really hard, when in reality they’re doing amazingly. Personally I’d go with measurements like waist and thighs and the way clothes fit. And obviously general feelings like tiredness and concentration.

    Reply
    • Laura@wholeheartedlyhealthy

      Totally, gaining muscle can completely change the scales, while you’re actually getting healthier!

      Reply
  3. Emma @ Project Body Image

    I think you have to be very resilient to be able to have a healthy relationship with the scales. It’s so easy to define yourself by a number, to start wondering how your number compares to someone else, to let your day be governed by the number you saw on the morning. So long as you know you’re eating healthy and feeling happy then that seems the best measurement for me. Laura your fabulous scale sounds awesome! X

    Reply
    • Laura@wholeheartedlyhealthy

      Thanks Emma, it’s such an easy concept and one I love, it should always be about how fabulous you feel!

      Reply
  4. Maria B

    I think that they can be so bad, because you can end up feeling so happy if the number is “good”, and getting really fed up if you have been keeping healthy and the number is “bad”. There is so much more to being healthy than your weight too, so a shift away from scales can only be a good thing.

    Reply
  5. AHealthierMoo

    Fab post Laura.
    I haven’t weighed myself in a very long time and when I step on the scales now, it tends to be out of curiosity more than anything else. I think especially as we are growing up, there is a huge emphasis on weight and the BMI scale (which isn’t an accurate measurement of health for some!) I can remember being at primary school and weighing more than some of the other kids, although also being much taller. The number was always one I was ashamed to share at the time.
    As is already mentioned, your whole mood for the day can alter depending on the number shown on your set of scales and that isn’t a healthy way to be.

    Reply
    • Laura@wholeheartedlyhealthy

      Thanks, you’re totally right about it being such a big thing while you grow up, I really hope that children nowadays don’t have that same experience

      Reply

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