One of the easiest and most common ways of tracking your progress is by weighing yourself regularly. It seems like a simple and obvious solution, yet it can simultaneously be a bit of a minefield.
Weighing yourself can be motivating and demotivating in equal measures
The first thing you need to be aware of is the that the scales will not always show you what you want to see! It’s important to understand why your weight is a useful measure of your progress yet it is also deceptive and confusing at the same time and it often fails to show you the whole story.
Why should I weigh myself?
Fat and muscle both weigh something, which means that losing fat will typically cause a decrease in body weight and building muscle will typically cause an increase in body weight. The best reason to weigh yourself regularly is to ensure that what you’re doing is actually working. So, if your weight isn’t moving in the right direction for your goal, it’s a pretty good sign that your current diet/workout isn’t working and needs to be adjusted somehow.
Photo Credit. Reddit
Weight is more than just fat or muscle
Unfortunately, when you weight yourself, your loss and gain is not always guaranteed to be either fat or muscle. Your body weight can and does fluctuate as a result of a loss or gain in muscle, fat, water, glycogen, food intake, menstrual cycle in ladies and even going to the toilet can make a big difference. That means daily fluctuations in body weight are absolutely normal.
The number on the scales does not tell you the composition of weight
Scales only allow you to track your weight rather than taking into account what makes up that number. As most of us are looking to lose fat, rather than muscle this is a very important point to take into account. That’s why you should do more than just weigh to keep track, measuring, progress photos or body fat percentage, it helps to create a clearer picture of what’s actually going on.
Normal fluctuations in weight can be frustrating
Most people don’t realise that their weight fluctuates on a daily basis and that this is absolutely normal. If the number on the scales doesn’t move or worse goes in the opposite direction, it can be a bit of mind game. When you know there is more to these daily fluctuations it can still be difficult for some people to see past the number and make unnecessary changes, thinking that their approach is not working. Pairing weight measurements with other methods of tracking progress is what we would recommend.
All this means is that you should use weight as a tool to track progress but you must also remember that those numbers are not an accurate representation of what’s actually going on inside your body.
If you’re not ready or convinced yet to throw those scales away, it does beg the question …….
So how often should you weigh yourself?
You’ll hear some people say every day, once a week, or once a month. Each one of these frequencies does have it’s PROS and CONS:
Weighing Yourself Every Day
Most people think weighing yourself every day is the LEAST accurate way because of those normal daily weight fluctuations that we’ve mentioned above. In a way, this is true. But, if you make one small change to the way you do it, you’ll see that daily weigh-ins are actually the MOST accurate way to do it.
Let me explain…
- If you weigh yourself every day and make decisions based on these day-to-day changes, then you’re doing it completely wrong and will soon get extremely frustrated and throwing the scales in the bin. This is because of all of the daily weight fluctuation that we keep talking about, this would be the worst way to do it.
- HOWEVER, if you weigh yourself every day and then take the AVERAGE at the end of the week (and base your decisions on THAT weekly number)… then you’ll have the most accurate figure you could possibly get. Doing it this way actually serves to eliminate the potential of daily weight fluctuations throwing things off.
So, if you are able to wait until the end of the week and take the average number then is the #1 recommendation for how often you should weigh yourself, at least for level headed people who can truly understand how body weight works.
Unfortunately, most people will find this hard to do without letting the daily fluctuations affect their mood and throw them off track.
Weighing Yourself Once A Week
In terms of accuracy, weighing yourself once per week isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly not useless…
We do still have to bear in mind that if your once a week weigh-in happens to fall on a day when one of those normal weight fluctuations are taking place. Your progress is skewed and you’d have to wait until a week later to know for sure. This is why during our DROPiT21 3 week programme we really do try to concentrate on your first and your last weigh in, rather than the ones in between.
However, despite not being as accurate as it could be, once per week might still be the right option for the majority of people. Because for the majority of people focusing on the number on the scales, watching the day-to-day changes in weight that would come with the previous option would send them crazy and possibly completely off the rails.
Here at DROPiT21 we have seen/heard about way too many people obsessing over their weight and making stupid decisions, changing their diet or workout as a result of letting daily weight fluctuations affect their judgement. Not to mention, the potential for this to lead to negative thoughts and bingeing.
So, to avoid all of this weighing ONCE a week is a very good way to keep a track of any changes.
Weighing Yourself Once A Month
In terms of monitoring progress, weighing yourself just once per month is pretty terrible and not recommended at all from an accuracy or tracking standpoint for obvious reasons.
But on the other hand, if you’re someone who can be obsessive then once per month may be just right for you.
When Is The Best Time To Weigh Yourself?
And now for the MUCH easier question to answer. Simply put…
The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Be sure to wear as little clothing as possible. If you do keep any clothes on, be sure to wear that same amount of clothing every time you weigh yourself.
Because weighing yourself any time other than first thing in the morning on an empty stomach will throw things off completely. Every bit of eating, drinking, sweating and what you do (or don’t do) in the bathroom over the course of the day will destroy any sense of accuracy.
It’s not unusual to see as much as a 5-10lb shift in weight at different times throughout the day, which is why weighing yourself at random times “just to see” is completely pointless and it will just drive you crazy.
So, there you have it. The best time of the day to weigh yourself and how often you should do it. As long as you use your weight for what it is and ignore it for what it isn’t, it’s one of a handful of useful tools for tracking your progress. Don’t forget to plot and track your non-scale victories too ….
Check out our blog about non-scale victories here: http://www.dropit21.com/time-talk-non-scale-victories/