Motivation Articles

4 Signs It's Time to Step Off the Scale

Does Weight Weigh Heavily on Your Mind?

It cannot talk yet it speaks to you. Some days it makes you giddy with delight. Other days it puts you into a deep depression. It judges you on a superficial level. The thought of it is enough to worry even the most optimistic person. What am I talking about? The notorious bathroom scale.

What is with this obsession we have with the scale? For most people, the scale can be an adversary or an ally, depending on the day. We often hate what it says or argue with it, but we still feel the desire to use it. When used properly and taken for what it is, it can actually be a very useful tool for weight management. But for many, the scale does more than measure the total weight of all your various parts. It somehow defines who you are as a person. And sadly, it can determine your own self-worth. We read way too much into this single-purposed tool.

Here are four signs that you might put too much weight on weighing in:

1. You constantly worry about weighing in.
When you're trying to lose weight, it's normal to experience some hesitation when it's time for your weekly weigh in. After all, you want to see the numbers go down as confirmation that all of your hard work has paid off. We all want to be rewarded for our efforts, and it can be discouraging when you have done everything right and things still don’t pan out. However, if you find yourself preoccupied with worrisome thoughts of what the scale is going to say tomorrow or the next day, then you might be a little too obsessed with the scale.

2. You weigh in more than once per day.
SparkPeople recommends weighing in once a week (or even less). Ever wonder why it's not a good idea to do it more often? Your body weight can and will fluctuate from day to day, and change throughout a single day, too. There is no sense in putting yourself on that roller coaster of ups and downs. In the war on weight, if you become so concerned that you weigh yourself daily or several times a day, you are fighting a losing battle and you will be discouraged. If you feel like you can't control yourself or stop yourself from weighing in each day, then you could be headed for trouble.

3. You can recite your weight to the nearest fraction at all times.
This is a sure sign that you are relying too heavily on the scale. Anyone who can tell you not only how much she weighs each day, but measures her weight loss to the nearest quarter of a pound is probably weighing in too often. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see a lower number on the scale, even if it's a quarter pound lower, but remember that weighing in is more about trends (an average decrease or consistency in weight over time).

4. The scale determines how you feel about yourself for the day.
When the number is down, you step off the scale singing and have a jump in your step all day. When the number goes up (or stays the same when you expected a loss), you feel like Charlie Brown walking around with a rain cloud above your head. To me, this is the saddest situation of all—to let the scale dictate how you should feel. How would you feel about yourself if you hadn't weighed in that day? What other ways would you determine your self-worth if weight didn't exist?

If one (or all) of these situations sound familiar to you, it's time to step away from the scale. Go cold turkey. Or at the very least, weigh in less often. But what's a "compulsive weigher" to do?

Instead letting the scale alone determine whether you're a success or failure, use more reliable measures to determine your progress. My philosophy is that weight loss is not a goal, but the result of healthy habits like a better diet and regular exercise. When you do step on the scale and don't see the reading you had hoped for, ask yourself these questions: Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? Am I making healthy food choices most of the time? Am I exercising consistently? If you are, then rust that your body is making positive changes, and the results will come. If you are not, then resolve to be consistent in healthy behaviors to see the results you want.

Weighing yourself is definitely helpful and it has its place. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and give too much credence to this one measurement! After all, other measures (like how much energy you have, how much easier it is to climb a flight of stairs, or how well your clothes fit) might not be as precise or scientific, but they're sure to make you feel happier and more successful than a scale ever can.

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Member Comments

  • Great article Thank you.
  • thanks for sharing
  • Bottom line, do not be obsessive about the scale
  • At this time, I am weighing daily and it is working for me so far. Thanks for a great article.
  • L O L but thank you very much
  • The scale lies more than the government.
    I use to weigh my self in the morning , after I ate, and at night. It was a vicious cycle. I'm thankful for this article, because I have learned that the scale does not define me.
  • I weigh every Monday. If I weigh more and see the scale go up I start freaking out, not taking into consideration that my weight will fluctuate.
  • I appreciate my scale. It's just a tool, like a thermometer or a GPS.
  • I got discouraged by my scale. After a month of calorie tracking and exercising, I had no weight loss. I gave up on all my goals for a few weeks, but then decided to get back on track... this time without the scale. Now I am going strong on feeling good! I plan on doing belly circumference measurements monthly to keep track of my losses.
    I did a test where I weighed-in every day, same time, wearing same attire. I discovered over 30 days that my weight shifted up and down daily. I am comfortable with minor shifts in weight now as I realize that my body is a living thing that changes daily. In science, results are not considered actual until they can be repeated. If I gain/lose weight on one day, I do not record it as a gain/loss until it is repeated.

    Simple things can cause the scale to shift without actual weight changes. This is why scales have accuracy ratings: mine is +/- 2 pounds.
  • I don't think it's about avoiding scales forever, Spiegy. The point is that some people become so obsessive about the number on the scale that they let it become discouraging if they don't get the loss they expected. If you become so stressed out because you gain a pound (which could be due to any number of factors) one day, it could cause you to quit because you're not seeing the results you want.

    Do what works for you. If daily works, then do it. If it makes it the most stressful part of your day, reduce the number of weigh-ins. As with everything on this journey, there's no one solution.
  • Sure you can become obsessed with the scale, but I think it's more dangerous to avoid it. When I start avoiding the scale is when I start putting on weight. It allows me to ignore the weight creeping up and pretend it's not happening. I also think there have been studies that people who are successful at maintaining their weight DO weigh themselves every day.
  • I have the app Happy Scale. The app has you record your weight daily and after ten days of weigh ins gives you your average weight. No need to stress with a high weight, or get too excited with a low weigh in. I feel it is more accurate.

About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.