Using the Scale Wisely When Losing Weight

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I know that some of you avoid regularly stepping on the scale because the fluctuations bother you or you use other ways to measure your success such as how you clothes fit or how you look.

I firmly believe that each of us has to do what works for us in this weight loss journey because if you try to live outside your comfort zone you may find yourself getting frustrated or even worse – quitting completely.

The scale can be and almost must be a tool that you use in some way during your journey, rather you weigh daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly.

When examining how to use the scale to your advantage, I wanted to share some statistics with you. According to the National Weight Control Registry, long-term maintainers tend to weigh on a regular basis, with 75 percent of them weighing in at least weekly. Some research studies such as the literature review published in the The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that regular weighing likely helps with weight management.

Although I weigh daily, there are some things that I am aware of that help me avoid frustration with the scale and keep me from allowing the scale to hold sway over me. Here are several things to think about when you stand on the scale and do not see the number you want and/or expect.

Reasons for Scale Fluctuations

1. For women, your monthly cycle can have an impact on the scale. Both ovulation and menstruation can cause the scale to move up even when you know you haven’t eaten out of the ordinary.

2. Bowel irregularities can also cause unexpected gains or losses.

3. Calorie intake. (I had to say this one because if you eat more calories than you need you may see the scale tick up.)

4. Muscle weight. As you build muscle you may see the scale stop moving or inch upward.

Now there are lots of other reasons, but these are some of the most common ones that I found when doing some research and from real life experiences of people I know.

In order to use the scale to your advantage during this weight loss process you have to be aware of how your body reacts to excess calories, normal monthly cycles, too much sodium, extra exercise, or other events in your life that impact the scale. Once you know how your body reacts, you can view the scale as a tool to use (with whatever frequency you choose) and not as a sworn enemy.

Ways to Measure Progress When The Scale Doesn’t Cooperate

Even if you weigh every day or every other day, it is important to have other ways to measure your weight loss or weight maintenance progress. Personally, I use the scale as one tool and some of these other techniques as additional tools.

1. How your clothes fit. If your pants that usually fit perfectly suddenly feel tight, it may be an indication that you have put on some weight. Conversely, if they are getting looser than things are likely moving in the right direction.

2. Take pictures of yourself along the way. This is pretty self-explanatory but such a great measurement!

3. Notice how you fit in chairs, through doorways, etc. This was one of my favorite ways as I loved being able to see the edges of chairs or not have to slide into narrow doorways sideways.

4. Take your measurements regularly.

How are you on this subject? Do you use the scale as one of your tools and how else do you measure your progress? Diane


  1. Susan says

    I weigh daily to keep myself accountable. I also take my measurements each month sometimes I slack on that though, and of course how my clothes fit. It is such a relief to be able to wear your clothes from season to season since clothes are expensive to buy new. I still hate having my picture taken so that one I don’t do and I never felt as though I didn’t fit in a chair or booth etc. Great list you covered it well.

  2. says

    I measure and also go on my clothing. Some times I do think I will avoid the scale and feeling confident a week later I get on and I have gained. So finding a balance is important, in that it should not derail your progress because it’s up or down (down and you may feel like you deserve a binge). Some people are very fixated on the scale though….

    Once I had lost 3kgs over 2-3 months and I was really heartbroken. PICTURES saved my life. THe ones in your undies? And I saw the change in my body….only 3kgs, but it looked like 10. So yes you are so right with all your points above.

  3. says

    I weigh myself daily because I feel like the numbers can help guide me through the decisions I’m going to make throughout the day. I used to really obsess over the number on the scale, but I’m smarter about it now. That being said, I haven’t weighed myself in 3 weeks now as I haven’t had a weigh scale (packed away during my move), and I’ve been fine. I am curious to know what I weigh, but regardless of the number I know that I have to stay active and eat healthily — not depending on the number for guidance of how to behave in a healthy manner feels wonderful!
    PlumPetals recently posted…Finding My FootingMy Profile

  4. BeatriceJay says

    Come on now…the muscle gain thing is laughable. A woman in her mid 20s who follows a strict diet and exercises according to a structured, competitive bodybuilding routine can gain, at best, 3 to 4 pounds of muscle in a YEAR. I never fail to be amazed at the bloggers who think their 2 pound gain this week is due to the three 1-mile walks they took.

  5. says

    I’m a daily weigher. One of my best tools ever in long term weight maintenance. This prevents “ostrich” type maneuvers and my slippery slope thinking to take over.
    I plot the “data” each morning at My Fitness Pal. No shame, no blame- just data. I can catch trends that way. I just posted my weight graphs for my 2.25 years in maintenance.

    It took me 40 years to stop yo-yo dieting and binge eating. The scale is a great tool for me!
    Karen P recently posted…2 year, 4 month weight maintenance update- graphs and more!My Profile

  6. Martha G says

    I weigh myself three times/week. Never on Monday or over the weekend because I do eat more then and usually have some wine so I know the scale will be up. Thursday is my official weigh in day and I’ve been tracking that weight for over 2 1/2 years and what I focus on is the slope of that line. It’s gone steadily down – slow at times and faster at others. Now at maintenance I just don’t want to see more than a 2 pound fluctuation from Thursday to Thursday.
    When I don’t weigh myself is when I stop paying attention to eating right and moving. A

  7. says

    I weigh daily. It is the first thing I do every morning. It helps me in two ways. First, I stay accountable and know where I am. When I don’t weigh for awhile (months), I will hop on the scales and be shocked to have gained 10 pounds. Weighing daily I don’t ever get shocked.

    Second, weighing daily is sort of comforting in helping me see the normal fluctuations in weight. I see the sudden gain of a pound when there is nothing I’ve eaten that would account for it. I also see how what shows up on the scale sometimes lags. That is, a loss may show up a couple of days later than I might expect. I see how water retention or even constipation has an impact. Once I see that happening I don’t get that crazed about those kinds of fluctuations. I look at the overall pattern.
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  8. Katie says

    Love your blog! I just started my weight loss journey and blog. Hope to have similar successes. Congrats on the hard work!

  9. says

    It may not be good to weigh yourself every day, particularly for those that are just starting to lose weight. Since fluctuations happen a lot on women, someone may become discouraged in seeing the scale go up when it is only due to that time of the month, then want to quit. In my opinion, it is healthiest to weigh once a week.
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