I Weigh Myself Daily. Should I?
The morbidity and mortality associated with being overweight have been known to the medical profession since the Hippocrates of Kos more than 2500 years ago. This physician is considered the “father of medicine” and is the first who believed that diseases are caused naturally and not by the gods.
Hippocrates believed an excellent diet had medicinal qualities. Also, he used lifestyle changes (including physical activity) to manage diseases such as diabetes. Ont the subject of obesity, he joined his fellow citizens in ancient Greece in considering the excess weight to result from a lazy lifestyle. Here are his musings about about being overweight:
“Dieting which causes excessive loss of weight, as well as the feeding-up of an emaciated person, is beset with difficulties.”
The physician also advised his patients to pursue an active lifestyle and exercise, asserting “Walking is man’s best medicine.”
Some suggest that you should weigh yourself daily if you want to maintain or lose weight. But is this recommendation appropriate? It depends on your goals:
- Consider weighing yourself every day if you are trying to lose weight.
- Consider weighing yourself less often if you are maintaining your current weight.
There are upsides to frequent checks on weight. It can be an indicator of your overall health and can help with intentional weight loss or gain. A sudden weight gain (or loss) can be a marker for underlying medical problems such as in the thyroid gland.
One study discovered that adults who weigh themselves daily were more likely to lose weight intentionally. These subjects performed other weight-reducing maneuvers, including step goals and a reduced-calorie diet. A separate six-month investigation led to similar conclusions.
An alternative approach is weekly weigh-ins. Many find this approach helpful once they achieve their initial weight loss goal. Please note that this maintenance phase is the riskiest for weight gain. A randomized clinical trial tried adding brief behavioral telephone support to promote target-setting and daily recording of self-weighing results. Alas, these interventions did not improve outcomes.
Monthly checks of weight seem too long to allow for modifications in physical activity or nutrition. What about avoiding all weight checks? Some of my patients are disheartened that they actually gain weight when they start working out in the gym. But remember: Muscle weighs more than fat!
Can we use visual indicators of weight? Some have a sense of where they are by noting how their clothes feel. And what about other quantitative maneuvers, such as body tape measurements or body fat percentage? Ultimate, I think you have to find what works for me. Checking every day keeps me accountable, and I am not the type to obsess over a pound here or there.
When to weigh?
Is there an optimal time during the day to check your weight? Your weight can fluctuate throughout the day, depending on hormones, what you eat, and your level of hydration. Given all of this, I check myself each morning.
Any risks from weighing too much?
I enjoy weighing myself regularly. I know many don’t share my enthusiasm. For some, daily weigh-ins can result in unhealthy behaviors. Some will fast in a harmful way to hasten the number on the scale dropping. Others will try a fad diet to binge eat.
You can also imagine that many people find benefits associated with self-weighing. Others don’t benefit from self-weighing. For some, daily weigh-ins can lead to unhealthy behaviors. On occasion, individuals may become anxious or depressed if they do not achieve their desired weight.
For me, optimal weight management is the product of exercise and a reasonably healthy diet. Be patient, as you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a single pound of body fat. Your weigh-in frequency hinges on your health and goals. For some, not checking in at all works. Finally, check-in with a valued healthcare provider to learn how to achieve your ideal weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.
Let’s end with a return to Hippocrates. An overweight man approaches him and inquires how he can get rid of all the excessive weight. Replied the ancient philosopher: “My advice is simple. Live on a piece of celery a day. And earn with much effort and sweat the money you need to buy it.”
Don’t listen to Hippocrates, at least about the celery thing. And if you are like me, weighing yourself each day can help you to stay on track (provided you don’t get too obsessed with the number you see on the scale).
How Often Should I Weigh Myself: Daily for Loss but Less Often Is OK
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