Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Should I Weigh Myself Daily?

Q&A Wednesday: Should I Weigh Myself Daily?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Q: What’s your take on weighing yourself daily?

A: Don’t do it! Reconsider! Read some literature on the subject!

There is NO way in the WORLD I would ever advocate a person weighing themselves daily. There are just far too many factors that come into play when it comes to the number you see on the scale, and if you see that number go up five pounds in a 24-hour time period? You just might lose your marbles.

Listen – when you step up on a scale, the number you see is a representation of everything on the scale. That means clothes, shoes, the water you drank, the food you eat that has yet to be passed out of your system through going potty, the water your body is retaining because of weather, the water your body retained from yesterday… you can weigh anywhere from two to eight pounds more after a full day’s worth of work just because!

There’s absolutely no reason to weigh yourself every day. None. I can’t even fathom a reason why one would want to bother with that. I weigh myself weekly, and that’s good enough for me.

I mean, I get it – you’re working hard, and you want a daily reward for doing so. But really – it’s like asking for a reward for paying your bills on time. You should be taking care of your body daily. You’re not going to be rewarded with pound loss every day and setting yourself up to be all excited to see the scale move only for you to see it stay put? It’s only going to encourage you to throw the scale out the window and give up.

And sure, you can tell me that you wouldn’t have that reaction, but I call foul – if seeing results every day didn’t matter to you, you wouldn’t be weighing yourself every day looking for results. It’s that simple.

I remember my days of hitting the scale before cardio and again after cardio just to see how much weight I’ve sweated off… but it was water weight – and considering how dehydrated I was after that rigorous cardio session, I had to have drank at least twice the amount of water I sweated out.

And seriously… let’s not even start on muscle – any woman who’s seriously and regularly lifting weights will experience weight gain. And no, that’s not a reason to not work out. It’s a reason to let the damn numbers go.

I don’t know how many times, in how many different ways, I can tell you to stop paying attention to the scale. Is someone who is a size 6 at 130lbs “better” than someone who’s a size 6 at 165lbs? I hope not. The numbers don’t matter as long as you look and feel the way that is most pleasing to you.

But I get it. I think I know how it goes:

I gain 40lbs. I “forget” to keep track of my fitness. The warning symptoms hit me. I start to work out. First day on the treadmill, and…

…nothing? What do you mean, nothing? Aw screw this, where’s the donuts?

I mean, I get it. The problem presented itself. I took action. Where are my immediate results?

What do you mean, I don’t get any immediate results?

This is why it’s so hard to stick to our fitness routines. We could work and work and work and work and work… and see nothing for weeks. It starts to feel like all of our hard work is in vain, and we only fall off with fond memories of how we busted our tails, failed miserably, and will probably skip giving it another shot. Whereas, if I am starving and I scarf down a giant triple whopper (1,200 calories, 88g of fat, 1,600mg salt)… I get my immediate satisfaction. Like, right then and there.

I am here to tell you, as straight-forward as possible. Screw all that.

If there is one thing that I have learned and am still learning, it’s that fitness requires a level of faith far beyond hope and silent thoughts. It requires you to put your all – your 100% – into something you may not see for weeks or, in cases like mine, months. It requires you to believe in yourself, what you are capable of, how you care for yourself and your ability to seek out and find what you need to better yourself. Fitness requires faith… in yourself.

You have to believe in yourself. Believe in your efforts. Believe that your goal is one worth achieving, because you are worth the effort it takes. It might not give you the same instant satisfaction as a donut, but consider the feeling you get when you turn that donut down. You slayed Goliath! You got a monkey off your back.

My point, here, is that you aren’t going to get immediate results. Stop looking for them. Just do what you’re supposed to do – this is supposed to be a part of a lifestyle change, y’know – and you will be rewarded handsomely down the line. But hunting every day for some kind of grand victory? Isn’t gonna work.

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shannon April 20, 2011 - 8:45 AM

This article speaks vOlumes to me because I AM guilty of weighing myself daily. I know it’s bad and I’m addicted! However your article really put things in perspective for me to not look for immediate rewards and instead work out because it’s necessary to care for my body.

Erica April 20, 2011 - 8:46 AM

I went through a phase where I was weighing myself daily. But, I was calculating a moving average of 2 weeks’ worth of data, which smooths out the daily up-and-down variations to tell you whether your weight is trending up or down.

I don’t really recommend that unless you’re a statistics nerd. It worked for me but it wouldn’t for the vast majority of people. (And I’m back to once-a-week anyway, because I like to always use the scale at the gym which is a good old-fashioned balance kind, and the weather’s nice so I’m running outside instead of on the treadmill!)

Ruth November 18, 2013 - 11:51 AM

Yeah, stat nerds! I use an app that calculates this for me called “True Weight.” It’s based on something called the Hacker’s Diet; I use it mostly as a double check against calorie counting, making sure that I’m not over or under estimating food and exercise.

For me it’s had the side effect of actually making me care LESS about my weight. Even though I knew intellectually that a lot of things can cause weight fluctuations, I was really surprised, when I started weighing myself regularly, how large those fluctuations could be. It took weighing myself everyday to understand viscerally how much of an influence my, er, viscera had on the number on the scale.

I hadn’t weighed myself in ten years–I hated the emotions that stepping on the scale brought up. Treating that number in a more scientific way, as a meaningless datum, helped take the emotion out of it for me, and allowed me to address my weight in a more helpful way. Not for everyone, but if your mind works that way, it’s useful.

Hokiegirl April 20, 2011 - 8:56 AM

For me, I would and do weigh myself everyday! I know it is not recommended, but it really helps me stay on task for the day. If I get an idea of where I am daily, I do better on my diet for the day. At the end of the week, I take that weight as the “real” weight that I have lost for the week

Madame: The Journey April 20, 2011 - 9:32 AM

This is great and sensible advice, Erika.

I was a 3x-a-day weigher when I began my journey. Morning (home scale), after lunch (nurse’s station scale at work), then post-evening workout (locker room scale). It was a crazy obsession, that left me more depressed than motivated at times. But being a numbers person, I started looking at the scale as I did my (and my clients’) financial investments. Sure, you can check the market every hour, but you’re not going to really grasp the efficacy of your choices/actions – until you step back and give those efforts time to prove themselves.

I had to realize that harboring over a scale could not be a driving force behind my new lifestyle. That sounds weird, contradictory even, coming from someone who is still in pursuit of “weight loss” – but the scale is seriously only one piece of this gi-normous ‘journey’ puzzle.

Miriam April 20, 2011 - 9:47 AM

I am one of those people who weighs myself everyday, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. So I know the ebb and flow about how your weight fluctuates in the course of the day. For me I usually weigh 2 pounds more at the end of the day than I do at the beginning. So when I weigh myself at night I know I’ll be 2 pounds lighter in the morning. I get some sick delight out of that! In the beginning of my weight loss journey that started about 9 months ago I was obsessed with the scale so much and so frustrated that it wasn’t moving that my husband took the battery out of the scale and hid it from me. LOL It took weeks of me begging for it and me promising not to complain for him to give it back.
I still weigh myself everyday but I’ve learned not to fret about it so much. I still use Mondays as my official weigh-in and do my measurements. So when the scale doesn’t move i use my measurements and how my clothes fit as my guide. The scale hasn’t moved in about 3 weeks for me ( well it did go up…the nerve) lol but I did go down one pants size in the last couple weeks. So now I just take a deep breath and try not to live by the numbers on the scale.

Danielle April 20, 2011 - 10:08 AM

I weigh myself every other morning too.

JaNelle April 20, 2011 - 10:09 AM

I totally agree. I don’t weigh myself; I take measurements. The number on the scale was so upsetting to me. It fluctuates A LOT during the week and I was becoming obsessive with it. So finally I took the scale out of the bathroom and now do measurements twice a month; sometimes three.

osusmith April 20, 2011 - 11:45 AM

The scale and I are not friends – ever! So I rarely step on it. My gym offers a BodPod assessment that calculates my fat and muscle. I take one every 6 weeks. I’ve gained muscle and lost fat, although the scale isn’t moving much at all. I try hard to remind myself of that accomplishment. It’s not until I put on clothes or take the time to really look at myself in the mirror that I notice the changes. I had to release myself from that scale – it was toxic for me.

thirteenlbs April 20, 2011 - 12:41 PM

I needed to hear this today: I lost only .6 pounds this week, again! I weigh once a week but need to remember that this is for the long haul!

CoCo April 20, 2011 - 1:31 PM

My friend and I have been debating back and forth about the merits of weighing daily. I refuse to weigh myself on a regular basis because it makes me feel defeated. I feel like the number on the scale is too large and I have too far to go, so why bother? I know that’s BS thinking, but I NEVER feel good after I weigh myself. Shoot…the last time I weighed myself I actually started to cry!
My best friend (who is also working on weight loss) insists that if I don’t keep track of the scale, I’ll never make any progress because the number she sees every morning motivates her to work out more. That just doesn’t work for me, so I’m glad to hear this advice from someone who has been successful at weight loss.

Kiwi April 20, 2011 - 4:09 PM

I am guilty of this but I work with numbers all day so I figure I I am losing .2 a day the weight is coming off. I’ve hit my plateaus and then I look to the measuring tape and how my clothes are fitting. I’m still fighting the urge but at least it’s no longer the night before and morning of. All about progress, I’m preparing myself for the .5 lb losses when I get closer to my goal

Heli April 20, 2011 - 4:11 PM

I get every one of your sensible reasons not to weigh daily and I think it’s great advice. That said, I am a once-daily weigher and it works fantastically well for me, enabling me to lose 75lbs & maintain the loss. I weigh in the morning, without clothes, before eating or drinking anything. It’s just a number at a point in time, so by keeping variables constant I can watch the overall trend for the week, month, year. It goes up the day after I eat salty foods, or too many refined carbs. It goes up after a particularly hardcore weight training session. It goes up 5lbs monthly, ugh. I watch the fluctuations and know to expect them, but if it goes up and stays there for days, I know something is up and I need to tweak things. For me, weighing once a week is arbitrary and gives data that is unhelpful to me. If I’d eaten something salty the day before my weigh-in the scale could show a 3lb “gain” and I might think it reflected whatever I did over the whole week.
The key is not to let the scale dictate how I feel about myself for the day, goodness knows I did enough of that when I was younger. Now it’s simply a tool for data collection, and along with my tape measure and clothing confirms to me that what I’m doing is working.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 20, 2011 - 4:18 PM

Y’all keep telling me “No, I know the numbers aren’t always accurate,” but then you follow that up with “but I still do it daily.”

Y’all like exercises in futility? I don’t. LOL

Rachael Nobles April 20, 2011 - 11:09 PM

What’s that saying about repetition????…..lol, but I’m still guilty, I weigh myself daily too..what can I say? It keeps me in check, but it’s certainly not for everybody! I use the scale more as a motivator than anything else….

alicia April 21, 2011 - 12:44 AM

hey, i have another point of view! i actually weigh myself daily and i actually find it LESS discouraging than weighing myself weekly. because, as you said, weight fluctuates so much from day to day (mine, especially). i could weigh myself every monday, but if one monday happened to be a “good” monday and the next monday was a “not so good” monday (in terms of how much water i am retaining, etc) i might get really frustrated! i weigh myself daily and keep in mind that my weight fluctuates A LOT. but i like that i can see a downward trend over time. it might go from 150 to 152 to 156 to 154 to 150 to 152 to 148, but hey it got there eventually! and that’s a 2 pound loss! you know what i’m sayin??? for me, the only numbers that i really take stock in are the ones i see when i wake up in the morning on the first day of my period, because my weight fluctuates a lot depending on the time of the month and then i know that i’m at the same exact place in my cycle.

anyway that was long winded, but just wanted to throw that out there! if you are solidly aware of the fact that your weight is GOING to fluctuate from day to day, then daily weighing can be a positive thing, i think!

Danielle April 25, 2011 - 8:24 AM

I agree with you Alicia and that’s the way that I feel about it. I weigh myself like every couple days. I think weight loss is a lifestyle change and really a journey, and I’m at the part where I am still understanding what MY body does/reacts to etc.
Like I always thought/assumed that I gained weight a little before and during my period. Guess what ? I dont ! (Well now that I am excercizing regularly, drinking lots of water and avoiding salty foods etc I don’t!)
And I know that because I keep track of my weight more than once a week.
So in my opinion/experience, weighing yourself every couple days is a win.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 25, 2011 - 8:29 AM

I don’t know that I’d categorize “weight loss” as a lifestyle, but merely the byproduct of a healthy lifestyle that includes activities and choices conducive to weight loss.

Danielle April 25, 2011 - 8:33 AM

I typed that I think ‘weight loss is a lifestyle change’, and you expounded on it beautifully thank you.

Rana May 1, 2013 - 9:15 PM

You are so right!! I refocused on the lifestyle because I was becoming obsessed with the scale and had plateaued. I really don’t even remember where I hid the scale months ago and it was best thing I did. I am a year and a month into the lifestyle change and enjoying the changes and continuing to challenge my fitness.

Hannah April 23, 2011 - 11:46 AM

To add to Alicia’s comment, I think weighing yourself every 2-3 days makes sense if you’re trying to maintain your current weight. I do it at the same time every day, within the first hour I’m up, and wearing just my pajamas, to avoid some of the shifts that come with clothes, hydration, recent food intake, etc. It’s really helped me to see how changes in my eating habits affect my weight. I now know pretty precisely what level of eating will cause me to lose two pounds (or eventually five pounds) and what will cause me to gain two pounds (or eventually five pounds, or eventually ten pounds, etc.). But it can be a challenge to avoid judging yourself based on the numbers on the scale. I think you have some distance from that before weighing yourself frequently can make any sense.

Karen April 23, 2011 - 2:18 PM

Thank you so much for this. I not only am guillty of weighing myself daily, but sometimes several times a day!!! Can you say…..OBSESSED? And you are right, if the number on the scale doesn’t read the way that I think it should, all hell breaks loose and I am cussing myself out and extremely disappointed. It is a serious emotional roller coaster. Anytime I have ever lost weight, its by eating “right” and exercising and it takes a LONG time. I’m not one of those people that starts off losing 2 lbs per week. Its as if, if i don’t eat PERFECTLY, there will be no results. And lets face it, I haven’t been eating perfectly. I am going to try my best to learn to be patient with myself.

Angelica August 30, 2011 - 11:55 AM

Thank you so much for your guidance and support. I agree that we should do exercise to better our body image and be healthier. We don’t need to loose our marble during the process however! =)

Katie Riley August 30, 2011 - 6:15 PM

I have to say, I weigh myself every day and it really helps me. Yes, it is hard when I plateau, yes, it is hard when I gain. Lately though, I am sticking right around 200 pounds, which is a healthy weight for me.

What is nice about weighing myself: After losing 20 pounds in the last 6 months, I am always worried it’s going to come back. I have never had a healthy body image and some days I am feeling really down, which in turn makes me feel really fat, which in turn makes me feel really bad about myself which leads to overeating and no motivation to exercise. But then I get on that scale, and I see I am not gaining weight and I realize it is all in my head and I am getting down on myself for no reason and then I can change my attitude and in turn, make better choices about what I eat and how much I exercise.

So yes, I think the scale can be a valuable tool.

RileyLeah October 25, 2011 - 6:54 PM

It is hard for me to go a day without stepping on the scale. I am always worried about the weight coming back as well. You see, I lost about 30 pounds as a teenager. Afterward, I was on the road a lot and I gained quite a bit of it back.

Recently, I have lost nearly 70 pounds and I live in fear of the weight coming back. Actually, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see much of a difference. After every party or holiday, I feel like the same person who was 70 pounds overweight. The only relief that I can get is to step on the scale and see that I am not that person anymore.

Erika Nicole Kendall October 26, 2011 - 9:24 AM

With all due respect, you have a problem that extends far beyond stepping on a scale every morning for reassurance, and it may be best to talk to someone about it. I’m speaking from experience on that one.

Buttercup20 February 8, 2012 - 6:37 PM

After wiping my tears this afternoon from an “unsuccessful” dailt weigh-in, I happened upon this post. Right On TIME! This is exactly what I needed to read and my head is now held high. Thank you!

Annette February 19, 2012 - 2:08 PM

Personally, now I don’t I didn’t in the beginning. I just kept track of eating a well balanced diet and watched my portions. I wrote everything down that I eat. Surprisingly the weight came of I noticed the fit of my clothing. I used that if I questioned whether I was on the right track. Once my doctor saw how much weight I was losing they made it so much about the weight I got curious. I decided to get a scale, worse thing then I started to obsess about how much I lost it was agony. This stressed me out so much. Well the battery died on it I think that is the best thing to have happened to me. Less stress which helps a lot in weight loss. Another thing I notice is that I lose weight and feel lighter when I go to bed before 11pm and have restful sleep. My body functions better and losing weight isn’t a struggle.

Ms Shell March 21, 2012 - 6:11 PM

I weigh myself daily and always have. For me while I DESIRE the number on the scale to be lower and/or the same I have no STRONG emotional attachment to it. As a result I have learned about my body and food tolerances etc. Recently discovering the corn tortillas in the form of taco and/or chips and salsa cause an IMMEDIATE as in with 1-2 days of eating them my scale JUMPS 5lbs. I’ve also learned that tofu effects me the same way only gradually, ie .5lbs a day gain. So I really believe it depends on the person and the EMOTION tied to the number reflected on the scale.

BlkQueen March 24, 2012 - 2:57 AM

I weigh myself about 10 times a day. Its a horrible habit I wish I knew how to stop :((

Randie June 6, 2012 - 10:35 PM

First of all, I love your blogs they help me out. I will be a junior in college in the fall and I am studying abroad the first semester and so I have to go to all of these appointments and they are always checking my weight. (Mind you I REFUSE to check my weight often, I have been obsessed ) I went from 168 to 145 and the last ten pounds are HELL to lose. anyway..So i am getting on all of these scales (because they are making me) and one moment I’m 146, 148, 152, 149, while the wii is telling me 145 still and i was like BUMP this scale. I worked hard for my body and I still am, so I will not be checking my weight again until July. 🙂 Thank you so much for this because it is spot on

Line Jacobsen August 7, 2012 - 3:09 PM

You are so right!!!
In the first few weeks of my weightloss I would go on the scale EVERYDAY to check on how I was doing. If the scale didn’t show a lower number than the day before I would be sooooo disappointed and ready to give up.
Now I try to hold in down to once a week but I have to admit it is hard!! Because it is so exciting to see how I am doing. Though I am measuring myself a lot instead now 😀 So cool to see the inches get of my body!!

christine January 24, 2013 - 2:14 PM

I guess I’m the odd one out..I have no idea how much I weigh. The last time I went to the dr. she said 217, my seams were screaming, my knees ached. That was about a year ago, I got off the couch, ditched the sweat pants after work and started moving. (elastic is too forgiving)
Friends have told me I’ve lost alot of weight, but I have no idea how much. I know that I’m happier and healthier that I have been in years. Now I can go into my closet and grab something and not worry about “if it will fit”.
I used to weigh myself everyday..and that little or big number would haunt me all day. No more!

Stefanie February 27, 2013 - 7:44 PM

When I stopped my excuses for y I was fat, I decided from day 1- I wouldn’t weigh myself no more than once a month. First time I waited 40 days from initial weigh in, then it was 30 days from there. I have my scale at hm and the doctor office. But my bad habit is looking in the mirror or a reflection or a glass building all the time. Sometimes I feel like I look 238 pounds, though as of 2/1/13 I’m at 204

Kami November 18, 2013 - 10:18 AM

My goal is to weigh myself every month to see progress. The changes I make for healthier choices are mor important to me. Another part that is important is measurements. overall i do gain five pounds during my menstrual cycle so I make sure to weigh myself afterwards.

Ann Wilson November 18, 2013 - 7:36 PM

Oh my, daily weigh ins are not for me. It gives me a case of the F-it’s. I’m a weekly girl. If I get a case of the F-it’s afterwards at least it only lasts one day and I can get back on program and not have to worry about weighing in for another week. 🙂

Elle November 19, 2013 - 5:18 PM

I use to weigh myself everyday when I woke up, after potty time. But I think it’s really about head space because my moto was and still is “maintain or less”. It’s still like that really. My goal was really to weigh the same most of the time. If I happened to weigh less, then woo!

Over the past year though, once a week because something I did because I didn’t want to become “obsessive”. Now I don’t even have a scale, but I’m still exercising and keeping a food journal. I haven’t bought a scale actually as a challenge to myself to see how long I can go without knowing how much I weigh. As well, I’m using some clothes as indication on how I’m doing.

Theresa November 20, 2013 - 2:23 AM

I admit that yes I do weigh most mornings as soon as I get out of bed. Thanks for this post. You made some really great points. What resinated most with me was when you spoke about having faith in the process and all that you are doing even when instant gratification is not forth coming. You reminded me that the lifestyle and I, are both worth everything that I’m doing today and the absence of scale movement does not nullify that!

Thanks for the post!

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