To Weigh or Not to Weigh
Have you ever noticed the groan that comes from most individuals, of all shapes and sizes, when they are asked to step on the scale? Are you one of those people who dread this at the doctor's office, or even at home? Getting on the scale is tough, especially if you've been struggling with your weight. When your current body weight appears on the scale, it can often be upsetting, depressing, or disappointing, especially if you have been taking steps to lose or maintain your weight. Some would rather not know just to avoid these feelings. So the question is, do you weigh yourself or just avoid the whole thing?
Current research suggests that individuals who weigh themselves frequently not only lose more weight, but also are better at maintaining previous weight loss than those who do not weigh themselves as often. For example, the National Weight Control Registry, which is a database of individuals who have lost at least 30 lbs. and have kept the weight off for at least 1 year, has shown that 79% of successful weight loss individuals weigh themselves at least once a week with approximately 36% of individuals weighing themselves daily. Interestingly, additional research has shown that there are no negative or harmful psychological effects of daily self-weighing. Therefore, to answer the question of to weigh or not to weigh, the research suggests that weighing yourself frequently is very beneficial.
Seeing your body weight on a regular basis can help you determine if and when changes in your eating and activity behaviors are necessary. For instance, if you notice your body weight starting to go up, you know that something you are doing is causing you to gain weight. Therefore, you can immediately modify your behavior. However, if you do not weigh yourself on a regular basis, you may not be aware of how your actions are influencing your weight. If you wait too long or wait until those pants are a little too snug, you can easily gain 10 lbs. Instead of getting upset or disappointed by the scale, use the scale as a cue or signal. If the numbers are going up, it is a sign that you need to change your eating and activity behaviors. If the numbers are going down or staying the same, it is a sign to continue your current behavior(s).
Keeping a log of your body weight can be a great way to monitor your progress; however, beware of normal weight fluctuations, especially if you are weighing yourself every day. Body weight can increase or decrease by several pounds each day based on several factors, such as hydration status or salt intake. Initially, this can be extremely discouraging; however, you have to remember this is normal and your weight will vary each day. Thus, rather than focusing on day-to-day changes, you should primarily focus on your average weekly change, which will be more representative of your actual body weight. In addition, it is recommended that you weigh yourself at the same time of the day, such as in the morning, to help limit some of the normal fluctuations.
The National Weight Control Registry:( http://www.nwcr.ws/default.htm )
Butryn, M. L., Phelan, S., Hill, J. O., & Wing, R. R. (2007). Consistent self-monitoring of weight: A key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity (Silver Spring). 15(12), 3091-96.
Linde, J. A., Jeffery, R. W., French, S. A., Pronk, N. P., & Boyle, R. G. (2005). Self-weighing in weight gain prevention and weight loss trials. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 30(3), 210-16.
Wing, R. R., Tate, D. F., Gorin, A. A., Raynor, H. A., Fava, J. L., & Machan, J. (2007). STOP regain: Are there negative effects of daily weighing? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(4), 652-56.