So, How Often Should I Weigh Myself?
Frequently, most recently today, I see people mention in passing that they "know they shouldn't" weigh themselves every day. I've also seen coaches and other weight loss professionals advise people to weigh less frequently, sometimes as little as once a month or even on occasion not at all. Daily weighers seem almost ashamed to admit they weigh themselves so frequently!
So how often should you REALLY weigh yourself? In part, this depends on what your goals are. But if you are reading this, the goal is to lose weight. Of course, we want that weight to be FAT but not everyone has access to accurate body fat measurements, in which case we are left with two things. Weight and physical measurements. Physical measurements (inches or cm) are great in that they show our physical size changing and can really help us distinguish if we are losing more fat than the scale reflects. However, these measurements aren't necessarily completely accurate, especially when one is measuring them self, but even when having others measure you that requires having someone available, and for accuracy someone who is skilled at taking measurements properly. It also takes time- you need to measure multiple locations and it is best to measure each location multiple times for the most accurate measurement.
Our weight, on the other hand, is quick to check and for most of us requires no assistance. It requires no skill and scales are easy to get.
So the question becomes how often is ideal for weighing yourself when losing weight? Thankfully, research has answered this for us and the answer is- every day or as often as possible, and no less than once a week. Multiple studies have the same findings that those who weigh every day lose more weight, and once a week is a the minimum before gaining occurs. As always, there are people who may not do well weighing daily- people with a history of eating disorders or with obsessive compulsive tendencies would probably do better weighing less frequently than daily. But that is not most of us.
Why might it be beneficial to weigh so often? A few reasons. Quick feedback for accountability is one. If your weight starts going up and you notice it right away you will be able to correct your behavior quickly to start going back in the right direction. Out of sight, out of mind applies here. If you don't see the scale stalling or creeping up, you don't need to come to terms with the reality (and maybe don't even know you have something to fix!) Another benefit to weighing daily is that more data is always better and gives a more accurate picture! The more data we have, the better we can find trends and the more we learn about our own body.
Weight fluctuates quite a bit throughout even one day, because we aren't static creatures. We are eating, drinking, breathing, excreting creatures. Weighing infrequently gives the false idea that we are static- that one momentary weight is set in stone- that one number is what you ARE. When we weigh often we start to see patterns. You may weigh more the day after an extra salty meal. You may weigh more during certain parts of a hormonal cycle. You may weigh more if you didn't get enough sleep. Conversely, you may weigh less after you've slept in, or you may weigh less the morning after drinking a lot of alcohol. Weighing more frequently shows the trend. Trends are what matter! Have you ever hiked a mountain? The downhill portion often still has parts that go back up in elevation, right? (If you've never hiked a mountain, they do typically have uphill sections on the way down!) But you're still going down the mountain when all is said and done. Not having enough information can make it LOOK like your weight is going up when really, it's just an off day- just a small incline on your way downhill. I encourage you to graph your weight. It will likely look quite a bit like a jagged mountainside! But it should clearly be on the way down even on up days.
The more you pay attention to those fluctuations to find out what really caused them (hint- it wasn't fat) the easier it is to see the daily fluctuations and not freak out if that number went up a little. If you weigh less often and don't understand your body's fluctuations, it will be much harder to know if your weekly or monthly weigh in is a true reflection of your average weight or if it just happens to be a day where your weight fluctuated up, which can lead to unnecessary feelings of failure that will jeopardize your mindset.
Bottom line- WEIGH EVERY DAY. Focus on the trends not just 2 numbers in a row. Learn your body. The better you know your body the better you can help it be a healthier version!