How important is it to weigh yourself for weight loss?

March 6, 2012 BY: LISA

How useful are the scales?

The dreaded weigh in, some people thrive and rely on it and others dread it but what is most useful and what does research say about weighing in?

When looking at those people who maintain the weight they lost it seems that it is useful to weigh yourself on a regular basis. I certainly agree that being accountable for increases in your weight is really important…ignorance is not bliss. If you avoid looking in the mirror or shop windows because you don’t like what you see or if you fail to recognise that you have put on 3kg over your Christmas/holiday break then you are heading for weight troubles. It is definitely not good to put your head in the sand in regard to weight gain. Research quoted by the Dietitians Association of Australia stated that the weight people put on in winter does not come off over summer, this is a myth! The people undertaking the research were still 4kg heavier 2 years after they put on the winter weight for research. Unfortunately weight does not come off by itself, you have to acknowledge that it’s gone on in the first place and then make plans to do something about it.

I don’t believe that a daily weigh is ever useful as your weight changes on a daily basis and fluctuates with hormones, fluid levels and depending on when you last ate and went to the toilet.  There is merit to weighing in on the same set of scales and at a similar time and with similar weight clothes or state of undress- this ensures that the differences you see are due to body weight and decreases the influence of the other factors mentioned above.

If you are exercising and building muscle you can definitely change your body shape but the weight on the scales may not change much. This can be very frustrating but it’s important to understand that muscle does weigh more than fat and that a decrease in your waist circumference is definitely as step in the right direction as far as your health is concerned. A lot of chronic illness’ are associated with increased weight around the abdominal area so any
decrease in waist circumference decreases your disease risk even if it doesn’t decrease your weight on the scales so that has to be a good thing. The other great thing about increasing your lean muscle mass is that it also increases
your metabolism.

Speaking with people who have to weigh in each week gives me some insight into the lengths people go to to make the scales say the right thing. People manipulate the weigh in by wearing heavier or lighter clothing, removing jewellery and I was once told even going without underwear to save a couple of grams. I think when you start trying to trick the scales then you might be missing the point of the weigh in!

If when you weigh you feel despondent and it undermines all the great things you have done for the week then you really need to question your practises. Often I have been told that it’s a good day or a bad day depending on what the scales say that morning, irrespective of what has happened.

In order to lose weight it’s important to come from a position of empowerment, believing that you are in control and can do it. I f the scales are making you feel bad and out of control then weigh less- perhaps once per month. Focus on the good things that you have been doing and use these successes to keep you going on a daily basis.

Lisa Renn

Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)

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