Trying to Lose Weight? 6 Ways to Stop Hating the Scale
By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
The number on the scale is certainly an important aspect of weight loss, but it isn’t the only predictor of success. And although having a love/hate relationship with the scale is one of the most common issues of any weight loss plan—it doesn’t have to be.
There are so many other important factors that predict weight loss success—such as the way clothes fit, reactions from your peers, circumference measurements, and you FEEL. Aim to focus on these other predictors of success when it comes to weight loss in this New Year, and use these tips to help you build a healthy relationship with your scale.
- Stop Weighing Yourself Every Day
Although it’s tempting to jump on the scale every day while you’re on a weight loss plan or just working on maintain a healthy weight, the number one rule of having a healthy relationship with the scale is to not abuse it. I advise both Rebooters and clients who are trying to lose weight not to get on the scale every day because it can cause unnecessary stress that can actually cause weight gain (stress hormone release = water retention). It’s also important to note that weight changes from day to day and even within the same day due to fluid shifts, so weight can vary 3-5 pounds within the same day alone. Instead of weighing daily, aim to get on the scale no more than once weekly (or even less often, like every few weeks). This will help to paint a more accurate picture of weight loss progress.
- Look Beyond the Number
Being overly focused on the numbers can cause unnecessary stress that can take away from the overall goal of improving health and on the lifestyle improvements that have to take place for healthy weight loss. Instead of only focusing on the numbers, aim to focus on the process as a whole—which includes the lifestyle changes, goal to become healthier (which means more than the number on the scale) and finally the number.
- Put the Focus on What’s Really Important
Although focusing on the number seems like the most important aspect, there are other important aspects to determining both weight loss and change in body composition. Instead of focusing solely on weight, aim to focus on:
- The way clothes fit: This is one of the easiest ways to tell what’s going on with your weight loss plan. If your clothes are fitting better you’re likely losing weight.
- Inches: Get a tape measurer and start measuring—biceps, waist circumference, thighs—all of it; when you have a change in body composition toward less fat and more muscle, the numbers on the tape measurer may change when those on the scale may not.
- How you feel: Do you feel like you’re losing weight? Tune in and listen to yourself. If you feel good, then you’re likely on the right path.
- Use the Same Scale
Find a scale that you plan to use, and continue using it; avoid getting on different scales for accurate weight loss tracking. It’s also always a good idea to calibrate the scale before getting on (weight may otherwise be +/- a few pounds) to help ensure a more accurate number.
- Weigh in the Middle of the Week
Some recent research suggests that Wednesday, a day in the middle of the week, may be the best time to weigh-in; the research also suggests that using a scale during a weight loss plan is important for overall success. With respect to time of the week for weighing in, given that weekends tend to be a time of freer eating, weighing in the middle of the week may allow for time to get back on track with healthy eating at the beginning of the week and may paint a more accurate picture of weight loss. It’s also important to weigh first thing in the morning after using the bathroom; this will give the most accurate picture of weight.
- Move More & Lose More
Movement, although not the key factor in predicting weight loss, is certainly an important one. Getting more active can of course help to move the numbers on the scale, but can also help to change your outlook and mindset during your weight loss. Exercising can help to improve mood, promote relaxation, and can also help you let things go—all which are integral to weight loss. It is important to pay attention to more than just the number on the scale especially when you’re exercising, because with exercise can come increase in muscle mass – so pay attention to how clothes fit and to measurements as well. Try my 20 Minute Do Anywhere Workout to get going.