Weighing In on Scales: Find Your True Weight
Learn how, when, and where to use the scale to your advantage.
To weigh or not to weigh? That's the question.
For people trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or just maintain a healthy
weight, the scale can be both friend and foe. But experts say there's a right
way and a wrong way to use the scale.
"We do know that people who weigh themselves regularly do better,"
says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.
"It's a way to measure progress and success. But the definition of regular
is very broad."
"Some people love to weigh themselves daily, whereas I would recommend
once a week for most people," Blatner tells WebMD.
The problem is that some people who weigh themselves daily can become
obsessed with the number on the scale, and it takes over.
"You have to ask yourself, 'Is this something that is setting my mood
for the day?" And if it is, then you're probably not a good candidate for
daily weigh-ins, and you should weigh yourself once a week," says
The 4 S's of Weighing Yourself
When you do weigh yourself on a scale, Blatner says you strive for sameness.
Weigh yourself at the:
- Same time of day, on the
- Same day each week, wearing the
- Same clothing, and using the
- Same scale
If you're using a scale at home, be sure to place it on an absolutely flat
surface. Wobbly bathroom tiles or plush carpeting can lead to an inaccurate
Even if you do follow these steps, it's natural for your weight to fluctuate
a few pounds day to day or week to week. Normal weight fluctuations may be due
- Eating starchy or salty foods
- The weather
- Water retention due to hormonal changes
That's why Blatner says it's important to look at the overall trend of the
weight shown on the scale rather than at the daily fluctuations.
Contrary to popular belief, she says weight is the result of what's
happening in your body over a long period of time, and one day of virtuous
eating isn't going to provide an immediate payoff on the scale.
If you don't have access to a scale or want another way to track your
progress, there are other alternatives to measure your health and weight,
- Body fat assessment. Blatner says a method called bioelectrical impedance
analysis (BIA), which is available at many gyms and on some home scales, is
more accurate than the traditional caliper body fat measurement technique.
- Paying attention to how your clothes fit over time.
- Using a tape measure to track changes in your shape.
"Some people are very motivated by not only the scale but by seeing
inches," says Blatner. "If you are someone who is motivated by looking
at numbers, measuring yourself is a good idea. Or if you don't want to go that
step, just using your clothes in your closet and knowing if something was tight
on you three months ago and now it's loose, that's a pretty exciting, telltale
sign that you're doing something right."