When you are trying to lose weight, the scale can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. When you’re slaying your diet and achieving your goals, stepping on it brings a wave of joy. But when you hit the inevitable slump or plateau, you might have the urge to throw it out the window and reach for the nearest cupcake. So should you be weighing at all, and if so, how often?

Do you need to weigh at all?

Your weight is just one piece of your overall health picture. So do you really need to weigh yourself?

Your scale can be a useful tool in your health and Weight loss journey. But you need to know when and how to weigh yourself to get accurate and helpful info from it. And be realistic and prepared, so you can deal with either result.

-Regularly weighing yourself can help you stay on track with your weight loss or weight maintenance goals.

-It can be a wake up call if you have been deviating, and encouragement to continue when you have been following the rules.

-The scale helps you keep track of your own weight so that you can change behaviors before 2kg of weight gain becomes 5 or 10kg.

The exception…

There is an exception to this advice. If you have a history of eating disorders or anxiety about the scale that may trigger issues, it may be wiser to avoid weighing or be very strict about when you weigh.

How often should you weigh yourself?

How often you weigh yourself is not as important as the how.

Be consistent:

It should always be on the same scale, at the same time and wearing the same thing or without clothes.

Specific day….

If you want to step on the scale weekly, for example, do it on the same day each week. Your weight won’t be consistent if you weigh yourself on Friday and Monday.

Specific time…

You’ll also get a more reliable result if you weigh yourself first thing in the morning, as food and drink can change what the scale says for a few hours.

” Overnight” weight gain

Certain things may cause a rapid change on the scale, sending you into a panic. But take a breath, overnight weight gain is not a thing.

Here are some things that may cause a sudden increase on your scale…

Water retention is a major cause of an overnight change on the scale. You might be retaining more water if you:

Ate high-sodium foods.

Drank alcohol.

Traveled, including flying or long drives.

Have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or started your menstrual cycle.

If you’re retaining water without an obvious reason, see your doctor.

Constipation… Maybe you’re not bloated, but your weight still went up overnight. In those cases, think about the last time you went to the bathroom. Constipation is another reason people see a rapid (temporary) weight increase.

Plateau

Even the most dedicated person can hit a weight-loss plateau, which is very frustrating. But the number on the scale is a piece of your overall health, not the whole picture.

So how else can you measure your success? 

During any weightloss journey, there’s more than one way to measure success. The scale is just one factor.

Measurements: You can take body measurements once a week, ie your waist or thighs. Those measurements may show that you’re losing inches instead of pounds, suggesting you’re losing fat mass and gaining muscle, since muscle weighs more than fat.

Clothes: Look in your closet for another way to check in on your health goals. You may find your favorite pair of jeans fits better, even though you haven’t lost much weight on the scale. This could be a sign that your body composition is changing, even though the scale isn’t reflecting that. And that is good news and enough motivation to keep you going on your Weight loss journey.

Finally, remember: Your weight doesn’t define you!

You may have a specific goal weight in mind, but your scale won’t quite give you that number. So maybe it is time to take some power away from the scale.

You are more than that number….

Your scale isn’t going to reflect all the positive changes you make.

Think about how your food choices are making you healthier.

Maybe you have more energy for your partner or kids. So many victories are not scale-related.

In the end, the scale may help keep you motivated and can give you a measurable report of your progress. But it is not, and should not be, the main focus. It is just another tool in your Weight loss journey. Keep it in perspective.