Walking Guide

4 Signs It's Time to Step Off the Scale

It cannot talk yet it speaks to you. Some days it makes you giddy with delight. Other days it puts you into a deep depression. It judges you on a superficial level. The thought of it is enough to worry even the most optimistic person. What am I talking about? The notorious bathroom scale.

What is with this obsession we have with the scale? For most people, the scale can be an adversary or an ally, depending on the day. We often hate what it says or argue with it, but we still feel the desire to use it. When used properly and taken for what it is, it can actually be a very useful tool for weight management. But for many, the scale does more than measure the total weight of all your various parts. It somehow defines who you are as a person. And sadly, it can determine your own self-worth. We read way too much into this single-purposed tool.

Here are four signs that you might put too much weight on weighing in:

1. You constantly worry about weighing in.
When you're trying to lose weight, it's normal to experience some hesitation when it's time for your weekly weigh in. After all, you want to see the numbers go down as confirmation that all of your hard work has paid off. We all want to be rewarded for our efforts, and it can be discouraging when you have done everything right and things still don’t pan out. However, if you find yourself preoccupied with worrisome thoughts of what the scale is going to say tomorrow or the next day, then you might be a little too obsessed with the scale.

2. You weigh in more than once per day.
SparkPeople recommends weighing in once a week (or even less). Ever wonder why it's not a good idea to do it more often? Your body weight can and will fluctuate from day to day, and change throughout a single day, too. There is no sense in putting yourself on that roller coaster of ups and downs. In the war on weight, if you become so concerned that you weigh yourself daily or several times a day, you are fighting a losing battle and you will be discouraged. If you feel like you can't control yourself or stop yourself from weighing in each day, then you could be headed for trouble.

3. You can recite your weight to the nearest fraction at all times.
This is a sure sign that you are relying too heavily on the scale. Anyone who can tell you not only how much she weighs each day, but measures her weight loss to the nearest quarter of a pound is probably weighing in too often. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see a lower number on the scale, even if it's a quarter pound lower, but remember that weighing in is more about trends (an average decrease or consistency in weight over time).

4. The scale determines how you feel about yourself for the day.
When the number is down, you step off the scale singing and have a jump in your step all day. When the number goes up (or stays the same when you expected a loss), you feel like Charlie Brown walking around with a rain cloud above your head. To me, this is the saddest situation of all—to let the scale dictate how you should feel. How would you feel about yourself if you hadn't weighed in that day? What other ways would you determine your self-worth if weight didn't exist?

If one (or all) of these situations sound familiar to you, it's time to step away from the scale. Go cold turkey. Or at the very least, weigh in less often. But what's a "compulsive weigher" to do?

Instead letting the scale alone determine whether you're a success or failure, use more reliable measures to determine your progress. My philosophy is that weight loss is not a goal, but the result of healthy habits like a better diet and regular exercise. When you do step on the scale and don't see the reading you had hoped for, ask yourself these questions: Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? Am I making healthy food choices most of the time? Am I exercising consistently? If you are, then rust that your body is making positive changes, and the results will come. If you are not, then resolve to be consistent in healthy behaviors to see the results you want.

Weighing yourself is definitely helpful and it has its place. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and give too much credence to this one measurement! After all, other measures (like how much energy you have, how much easier it is to climb a flight of stairs, or how well your clothes fit) might not be as precise or scientific, but they're sure to make you feel happier and more successful than a scale ever can.
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Member Comments

I'd like to say that the scale doesn't pay a big part of my life but it does. I try to keep in mind that weight is more than a number on the scale and that BMI with weight, is an average. The scale depresses and angers me. I workout hard and I get no where. My clothes are probably a better scale. Report
The scale is only a tool that I use. Nothing more. Report
CACUJIN
" It judges you on a superficial level." --- the scale does not judge. It only reports weight with a slight deviation (+/-2 pounds on my scale.)

I weighed myself every morning for 30 days and discovered that my weight can shift for a variety of reasons, meal times, what was eaten, how much water was consumed, muscle tension, and many other things that I would not have considered before. The results were so interesting to me that I later tried a 10-day discovery with the scale. I learned that I can shift my weight by stepping upon the scale softly or more aggressively. I can lighten my weight by half of a pound by only touching the shirts hanging in the closet. (scale is in the closet) I learned that if I wake feeling tired I weigh more than if I wake feeling refreshed. I learned that if I weigh myself immediately after waking I will weigh 1 pound more than if I move around for at least 10 minutes first.

In the end, I discovered that the scale is a tool that reports. It can help a soul stay on track if they only take time to understand what causes those little, but unsettling, shifts in the numbers. Report
Excellent article. Thank you. Report
I weigh everyday. It works for me. Report
I weigh in every morning. I use this as a tool to check that Iím remaining on track. If I have a gain when I think there shouldíve been either a loss or maintain, I immediately check my Meal and Fitness Logs. There is almost always a correlation between the three. I donít think I obsess, per se...but I definitely rely on the numbers to ensure that I havenít strayed off course. I do get frustrated on occasion when everything should align but the numbers inexplicably increase, but luckily I have people who offer encouragement on those days. Report
I have actually refused to go to the Dr. when I was extremely ill because I did NOT want to step on the scale with winter clothes on. Last time I went, the patient notes read, ďobese femaleĒ. Iíve come so far and I CANNOT deal with that! ?? Report
Stepping on the scale every morning is part of my routine. But I don't obsess about it Report
I haven't seen my scale in years, and I don't plan to go looking for it. Report
I weigh myself every morning, it helps me stay focused, if I have gained I have try to figure out why, most of the time I know the cause and it helps keep me accountable.!! Report
The scale is not the only thing but it is one of the things... Report
Great article Thank you. Report
thanks for sharing Report
Bottom line, do not be obsessive about the scale Report
At this time, I am weighing daily and it is working for me so far. Thanks for a great article. Report
Walking Guide

About The Author

Jason Anderson
Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.
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