Hi! Last week I wrote about the power of the scale and what its role is in our fitness lives. Friendly check-in or necessary evil, right? And despite about how you feel about the scale, I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon. If our doctors are still using it as a measure of our health, we will have to step on it sometime.
But how often do we need to check our weight?
Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Never?!
The answer will depend on you. What your goals are AND what you’re doing right now. Let’s look at some different scenarios and how they effect how often you step on a scale.
Special Training Scenarios
There are times when weighing yourself regularly has value, critical value, in what you’re trying to accomplish:
- You are participating in a short term challenge where the winner is determined by weight-loss: such as a nutrition challenge, corporate wellness challenge, “Biggest Loser” competition.
- You are preparing for a weight class competition, such as wrestling, MMA, Bikini or Body Building, and need to “make weight”.
- You are wanting to peak for a fitness competition/event and need to get to your competition weight.
In these scenarios, stepping on the scale is part of the training regiment. These weigh-ins give you feedback on whether the nutritional approach you are taking to drop weight is working, and also serve as a motivational reminder of where you currently are, and where you need to be. In the earlier stages of training, you will want to weigh weekly and make adjustments as your coach allows. As you get closer to your deadline, especially 1-2 weeks out, you will want to weigh-in more frequently than weekly, probably every other day as the deadline or competition day approaches.
However, if you are not preparing for a competition or in the midst of a challenge, the frequency of stepping on the scale will be different. You aren’t intensely training or focusing on your weight. What makes sense when you’re just living normal life? Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios…
When in “Normal”…
Scenario 1: You are actively trying to lose weight.
If you fit into this category, then weighing yourself weekly is my recommendation. I would only recommend a daily weigh-in IF it motivates you to stay on track. If a daily weigh-in is causing more stress than good, eliminate it and go to a weekly occurrence. If after 3-4 weeks, you aren’t seeing a ~1% body weight drop, then something is out of place (i.e. you’ve plateaued, traveled, had prolonged sickness, stressful month, etc.). This is a great opportunity to talk with your nutrition coach. If you are making the right changes, you should see a weight decrease in the course of the month. It might not be a big drop each month, but it should be something.
Scenario 2: You are in maintenance. (which could mean you do not desire to lose weight. OR you want to lose weight, but aren’t actively working to lose weight.)
If you fit into this category, I recommend you give yourself a weight range and weigh-in monthly or bi-weekly. So, as an example, I have a personal weight range of 5 pounds. (well, 7 pounds, although 5 sounds better!) As long as I am in my range, I weigh-in when I want to. Normally that’s monthly, but I’ve gone months without stepping on the scale. As I creep toward my upper limit, I will take a few action steps (which I will reveal in a future Refuel) and then weigh-in weekly until I see my weight return inside my range.
I know when my lifestyle isn’t helping maintain my weight (ate too much, traveled, etc.) and so that prompts me to weigh-in just to keep it in check. I recommend you use the scale to help you monitor your exercise/eating habits and to motivate you to make changes when you need to.
I’m really curious what your experience has been with the scale. How often do you weight yourself? Has it helped or hurt? Post a comment below!!
In the meantime, Keep moving!
Note: If you find that the number on the scale just keeps creeping up and up, beyond your range, and you change from maintenance to actively trying to lose weight- it’s time to have a meeting with your coach (and perhaps your doctor). You might know what’s causing your continual weight gain, or you might need to investigate. Either way, it’s good to have someone on your side.