The Right Way to Weigh Yourself

Carolyn Classick-Kohn,MS,RD

Are you interpreting your weight changes correctly?How do you measure the success of your weight loss efforts? Most people on weight loss diets measure body weight at regular intervals on a scale - if the scales are down, it's a good week - it's as simple as that. But for many, weighing is a very frustrating experience leading to a cycle of negative feelings and self-doubt. And very often, this leads to early drop out and a failure to persist in weight loss efforts because the "payoff" is too slow.  Despite best efforts, the scale won't budge! What's holding things up?

The first mistake people often make is they just don't weigh themselves correctly. This is critical because when you don't weigh yourself consistently, you're basically collecting bad data about your body weight and then making judgments based on that bad information.

Next, people tend to draw conclusions about the success of their weight loss diet based only on body weight. So, even if you feel really good about the steps you're taking to set things right with your lifestyle, you have a greater energy level, or your clothes fit better, you forget all that really great stuff when you step on the scale and hit a plateau or even gain a few pounds in a week.  

Combine these two common mistakes and you get a recipe for early dropout on weight loss diets. How can you avoid these critical mistakes?

Weigh yourself correctly so that you get good data to begin with.
To do this:

Get a good scale that is calibrated and measures your body weight accurately. Place it on a flat surface, not a rug. Use a digital scale that measures small changes in weight - this may be more motivating and more accurate.

Weigh yourself at a time when your body weight is least likely to fluctuate
from eating, drinking, loss of fluid, etc. For most people, early morning before breakfast is the most consistent time to weigh.

Be consistent. - don't compare your morning body weight with an evening weight - there will be differences.

Record your body weight.
Whether you weigh yourself every day or every week, record your body weight and don't rely on memory!

In addition to recording an accurate weight, make accurate observations about other changes related to your weight loss diet...If you're dong what you need to do (following a healthy eating plan, changing your food habits that led to obesity in the first place, and increasing your physical activity) there shouldn't be any surprises when you step on the scale.  Still, even if you're making good progress there will be times when you'll gain a few pounds for a variety of reasons. Temporary weight gain could be due to hormonal changes that cause water retention, changes in medications, or a salty meal the night before. If you know you're eating within your calorie level and exercising, it's a pretty good bet that your weight will settle down and start dropping again. Be patient, don't talk yourself into giving up early, and keep up the good work and you'll see results. Consider a diet program like PersonalDiets that lets you track and record your weight online daily

Healthy Diets - for Weight Loss & Improved Health!