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Are you Addicted to the Scale?

“It is clear. I am addicted to the scale. I have anxiety over how much I weigh and it’s constantly eating away at me. I want to know. I NEED to know. The number that scale spits out determines the mood I’ll be in for the day. I never realized how bad it was.”

Are you a scaleaholic? Are you addicted to the scale?

You decided to begin a weight loss program. You started exercising more and eating a little bit healthier. You started keeping track of your progress and measuring your weight. But somewhere along the way, you became obsessed. You developed an addiction to stepping on the scale and now everything, hopelessly, depends on what that scale says.

I’m all for keeping track of your progress, but checking your weight multiple times a day can do you more harm than good.

Here’s what you need to know.

We strive for results. That’s what we do. That’s what life is all about, really.

How do we measure results?

When it comes to weight loss, most people resort to the scale for results. If you weigh a little bit less today than you did yesterday, you’ve succeeded. If the number hasn’t changed (or gone up), you get worried.

Over time, our subconscious craves for this number more and more. It truly becomes an addiction. We obsessively, and sometimes subcionsiously, step onto the scale multiple times a day just to see if the number has budged.

This is not good a good thing when it comes to achieving your weight loss goals.

Here’s the problem when it comes to scale addiction. Your weight can drastically fluctuate throughout the day – anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds! These fluctuations are primarily due to water retention and water loss. You lose water through various mediums – sweat, urine, even your breath! Further, water is mostly retained in the evening – this is why you might notice you’re a bit heavier in the evening. Over night, your body goes through a recovery phase where it returns all fluid levels to steady state.

What does this mean?

If you step on the scale multiple times throughout the day, you will see fluctuations in your weight. If you weigh yourself in the morning, afternoon and nightime, you’ll most likely notice weight gain EVEN if you’ve worked out that day. This can be incredibly discouraging and can eventually result in you giving up.

Here’s a tip to help you out.

Ditch the addiction. Stop obsessing. The truth isn’t always in the number. Weigh yourself ONCE a week AT THE SAME TIME of the day. For instance, Monday morning as soon as you wake up, write down the number. Put your scale away for the week. Next Monday morning, pull out the scale and weigh yourself. Write it down.

This will show you how your body is really progressing. It will show you the weight trends you’re going through. And if you’re exercising regularly and eating healthy meals, you’re more than likely going to be pleased with that dreadful number. I promise.

Are you addicted to the scale? Share your comments!

Alykhan - Fitness Breakout - February 3, 2011

Srdjan,

Weighing yourself multiple times a day is definitely excessive. I used to weigh myself several times a week, but now I just weigh in once a week. I think once a week is ideal. It’s just enough to effectively track your progress without having too much time between weigh-ins.

Alykhan

Raymond-ZenMyFitness - February 4, 2011

I use to be addicted in fact weighing every few hours but after awhile I realised the silliness in it.
I no longer bother with the scales and the only check I do is look in the mirror.
Raymond

Louis - February 4, 2011

Good Post. I always tell clients that the scale is there enemy when they start their training. As they lost body fat and gain lean mass the scale doesn’t account for that and it can be frustrating to people.

    Test - February 5, 2011

    @Louis
    I think the scale can be your best friend or your worst enemy. But you’re definitely right – muscle is more dense than fat and thus weighs more. There are other more effective ways to track results. Nobody said losing weight doesn’t come with its frustrations, right?

Jordan - The Healthy Teacher - February 4, 2011

Srdjan,
I see this happen a lot. I used to do this as well, and it really is a dead end road. Like you said, it needs to be consistent.

If you are going to weigh yourself, once a week at the same time of the day is a good guideline. Great post! I hope your readers quit their scale addiction!

Cheers,
Jordan

    Test - February 5, 2011

    @Jordan
    You know it’s funny because I do have a friend who has a slight obsession. He was more focused on the pre and post weigh in than he was on the workout itself. It was a little comical to see his frustrations when the scale showed no improvement after one workout 🙂

Sam- Look Like An Athlete - February 4, 2011

I have to tell anyone who will listen and is trying to “lose weight,” to stop getting on the scale!

It’s common to see someone excited because they lost 2 pounds then get upset because those two pounds came back the next day.

My advice is for people to avoid the scale and weigh themselves every couple of weeks if possible. Or avoid it as long as possible. The best measure of progress is how you look and how your clothes fit you if you have been trying to lose body fat.

-Sam

    Test - February 5, 2011

    @Sam
    It’s tough to get people to avoid the scale completely. They WANT to see results! It can be an effective tool and a great motivational source if used properly. Positive results can be VERY motivational. Thanks for the comment.

Test - February 5, 2011

@Alykhan
I think once a week is perfect. The problem is that people put too much emphasis on what the scale says. I think it’s important not to worry so much about the number. Weight loss takes time and effort. Don’t let the number stop you from where you want to be.

Test - February 5, 2011

@Raymond
You checked every few hours?? Did you happen to see any fluctuations in your weight?

The mirror can also be another addictive medium for results. I’ve seen some ridiculous obsessions with it. Thanks for the comment.

Anna Kuznetsov - February 7, 2011

Yes, I used to check the scale every morning. I was obsessed and it was definitely depressing to see a one or two pound gain and decide to eat less for the day. A few months ago I decided to only check once a week, and it’s great. A lot less stressing and obsessing.

    Test - February 8, 2011

    @Anna
    You’re definitely not alone, Anna. I’ve seen many become obsessed like you were. It’s a very frustrating situation. I’m glad you’ve found a better way! Thanks for the comment.

Michael @ The Underwear Body - February 8, 2011

I’m like Raymond in that I used to be addicted to the scale but no longer use it. I much prefer the mirror and the fit of my clothes as a gauge of where I’m at.

In my case though I use to use the scale when I was trying to bulk up and add the magic pound of “mass” each week. Whats crazy is that as long as the number kept moving up I felt I was progressing even though the look and shape of my body was getting progressively worse.

I get the feeling we could all benefit from ditching the scale.

Michael

    Test - February 8, 2011

    @Michael
    Thanks for bringing up that point, Michael. With all the craziness revolved around weight loss, we tend to forget about the other side…weight gain. An addiction to the scale can be just as detrimental to your progress if you’re trying to gain weight. No matter what the goal, weight fluctuates throughout the day. Same advice goes – once a week, same time. Thanks for the comment!

Anna @ Path to Fat Loss - February 8, 2011

I definitely recommend the same as you. I weigh myself once a week on the same day as soon as I wake up. Most of our eating and exercising habits are fairly predictable anyway so doing it this way ensures the weight is more accurate.

    Test - February 8, 2011

    @Anna
    You’re definitely right. I’m glad it’s working for you. Thanks for the comment, Anna.

Waist, Hips, and Thighs - February 12, 2011

I don’t even look at a scale anymore because it can be so misleading. If you weigh yourself in the morning you are simply going to weigh more later that night because you ate food. Food weighs ounces and pounds and you simply have to calculate that in your scale weight.

Looking in the mirror and seeing and feeling how my clothing fit are my determining factors. If my face looks a little chubby and I have been in the gym or exercising then I know Im gaining some weight. I try to get women especially to stay away from the scale and set goals. Like buying a dress that you know is too small and when you can fit it you know you’ve lost weight.

-Thomas

    Test - February 22, 2011

    @ Thomas
    In my opinion, the scale can be a valuable tool when used the right way. But, when used alone, it can be very misleading. There is more to results than the number on the scale. Using other factors, like the ones you’ve listed, is great for seeing how your body changes.

    One thing I would add: I don’t think it’s enough to know whether you gained or lost weight. I think it’s important to know what kind of weight it is you’ve gained/lost. Muscle? Fat? For the average person it might be too much, but circumference measurements and body fat % calculations would be extremely valuable to understand what kind of weight you’re putting on or taking off.

    Thanks for the comment, Thomas!

Fran Ricks - September 28, 2011

I am too. Very candid about my struggle in my blog. franricksscaleaddict.blogspot.com

Eric Harrison - November 21, 2011

Well, indeed this is a very nice topic. thanks for sharing.

Michael @ somebodylied.com - December 26, 2011

Got my little brother on visual impact, and ye his weight fluctuates like crazy during the day. The scale isn’t really a great indicator, but I do beleive using as many tools as possible to track progress is a good idea. before and after pictures, tape measurements, body fat calipers, mirror, peoples opinions and your workout performance. All can be used to gauge progress, none are fool proof but ye gotta track somehow. good post

    Test - December 27, 2011

    With Visual Impact (Phase 1), the weight can fluctuate greatly. I found that for me, it was most effective to weight myself once a week on the same day at the same time as soon I woke up. This kind of kept things consistent. But it was the tape measures and pictures that really helped me track my progress. Wish your brother good luck for me!

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