Not Another Diet — Principle 2
Weigh Yourself Every Day. Yes, really
Update: I’m launching a course for 2021 to teach you lasting weight loss. You can sign up for my newsletter to have access to the details as I roll it out.
Or, do it once a week, once a month, every other day. Use a measuring tape instead of a scale. Before you get scared, read on and know you have options.
One thing I know for sure is that people who lose the most weight and sustain that loss weigh themselves regularly. They measure, and that’s what this principle focuses on.
If you are a person who avoids the scale out of fear and shame, then it might be overdue to tackle that head-on.
Here’s what the scale isn’t:
- A summary judgment of your worth as a person.
- A reason to beat yourself up.
- An affirmation that your weight is a personal failure (it isn’t).
- A reason to despair about never being able to get a handle on keeping a healthy weight.
Here is what the scale is:
- A tool to help you understand what effect your current food choices and activity level are having on your weight.
- A way to get ahead of problems before they get away from you. Meaning, it’s much easier to lose 3 pounds than 10. It’s also better for your health and self-esteem to avoid large fluctuations.
- A daily reminder of the health goals you set for yourself.
- A way to avoid indulging
The prevailing wisdom is that weighing yourself too often exacerbates a kind of neuroticism about weight. That’s only true if you don’t readjust your thinking about what getting on the scale means. I wrote in the introduction about doing internal work, this is one aspect of what I meant.
We cringe when the scale doesn’t reflect what we’d like, but that doesn’t mean the information isn’t useful. Knowing I have to step on the scale the next morning regularly stops me from indulging, and if it starts creeping up I know there’s an adjustment to be made.
The biggest and most valuable reason I use the scale as a daily tool is so I don’t have to count calories. You have to measure somehow and the scale is once a day for a few seconds. Recording my daily intake is pure agony all day long and most assuredly not sustainable for the long-term.
I’ll admit to you right up front I don’t always have equanimity about getting on the scale. Those moments are the perfect opportunity to practice good self-talk. I tell myself I am a good person at any weight, I can and will handle this, and that this number means I need to re-examine my food and exercise to see where I might do better. I say these things because I know them to be true.
Consider this study outcome listed on the Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: “Weighing every day led to greater adoption of weight control behaviors and produced greater weight loss compared to weighing most days of the week. This further indicates daily weighing as an effective weight-loss tool.”
The scale isn’t my tormentor, it’s my ally.
Case in point, I found a healthier ramen noodle made from millet and brown rice. Very quickly that started entering my diet in heavy rotation (I love ramen). It seemed ok because the ingredients were reasonably healthy and the individual cakes made it portion controlled. Unfortunately, the scale started creeping back up. I still eat the ramen, but maybe once a week.
So many of us dread getting on the scale, and I know it’s particularly unpleasant when you know the news isn’t good. I would argue that’s the best reason to do it every day (or frequently). It’s good practice to face difficult things.
I’ve made it an automatic part of my morning routine. The benefit of doing this is keeping an unbroken chain. If I do it intermittently (or, only when the I know the news is good) I will drift off and do it less and less over time. Now that it’s baked into my day, I would have to purposely avoid it. If I am avoiding it, for sure there is a problem I need to face. The scale keeps me honest.
Here’s how I do it: first thing in the morning before getting dressed or taking my medication I walk into the bathroom and step on the scale. That’s it. I don’t record it anywhere. If you think it might help then feel free to track it. The ability to see fluctuations over time might provide some insights. I don’t because I am focused on routine more than data analysis.
I recommend starting with a set weekly weigh in, which is what I did at the beginning of my own journey. Put it in your calendar with a reminder if you need to, just make sure it’s done with regularity. Not when you feel like it, but as part of your own routine. As it becomes more useful (and, less prickly) increase to twice weekly and so on.
The first few weeks of weighing yourself doesn’t need to be about measuring weight loss progress. It can be about getting to know your body, getting comfortable with weighing yourself, practicing redirecting the negative self-talk that arises and learning to predict natural fluctuations.
If it feels like too much to introduce a scale right now, set it off to the side. Work the other principles and come back to this when you are ready. Don’t avoid it indefinitely, the scale is a powerful tool. Teaching yourself to use it this way is excellent personal growth.
Healthy businesses know their numbers inside and out because that information informs the choices they make. It works the same way with the scale and you.
It’s a tool in your pursuit of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. No more and no less.
If you are new to this series please go back and read the introduction. It’s important to understand the basics before simply adopting the principles.