There’s something in your bathroom right now that can be your best friend when it comes to getting your weight where you want it. No, it’s not a diet drug, it’s the bathroom scale and I’ll tell you how to properly use it. Where I live there’s a street where a lot of people get speeding tickets; it’s a residential area and the limit’s like 30 miles an hour. It’s really hard to gauge, so the cops grab people all day long. Recently they installed this electronic device that tells you how fast you’re going, so you start coming down Canoga Avenue and it’s at 38, 35, it’s like a reality check. You think you’re doing one thing, but you’re actually doing another, and when you get that feedback you can make a course correction. That brings me to the scale. The scale is really like that electronic speed meter on my street, it’s a reality check.
A lot of people don’t want to use the scale, and here are the usual reasons; number one is tyranny, there are a lot of people who have had eating disorders for example and they just fear using the scale because it drives them crazy. They give it all this power, if the pounds go up they just freak out, so they just stay off the scale and they say, “I can tell how I’m doing by how my clothes fit.” I’m sorry to disillusion you, you really can’t. Whether you washed your clothes last night affects that and how much salt you ate the night before affects that. The second reason people give about not using the scale is that it doesn’t tell you anything about body composition and that is true. You want to know how much body fat you are losing, how much muscle you are gaining. There are other ways to measure it but that doesn’t mean that the scale provides no good information, it gives you important feedback about one dimension of your weight loss efforts. The trick is to use it in a healthy, productive way and not to give it too much power. The thing is not to let it tyrannize you or define you, or to think that it’s the ultimate arbiter of your health or your well-being or how sexy you are or how good you look or any of those things.
I weigh myself every single day and I recommend you do the same thing. The trick to doing it properly is to do four things.
- Always use the same scale; it doesn’t matter if it’s 100% accurate, it just matters that it’s accurate from day to day.
- Always weigh yourself in the morning.
- Always weigh yourself naked
- Weigh yourself before you eat. That’s how you get a consistent measurement from day to day.
I personally use what I call the four pound rule. If I get more than four pounds away from my goal, I go back to a different eating plan, like New You 22, or stage one of Atkins Diet to get my metabolism back on track. You never want to be that guy who has a high school reunion and all of a sudden he realizes, “Gee, I gained 25 pounds since I last put on this tux and I never noticed.” You want to be the guy that notices, so use the scale. Make it your friend, not your enemy; it can be a good tool to use to get your weight where you want it to be and to keep it there.
If you put your daily weight in a spreadsheet, you can take a moving average of your weight over a period of a few days to filter the ups and downs.
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I too use a scale daily after not having one for far too long. I also write down what I weigh from day to day, and do a weekly “check-in” with tape measurements: arm, waist, belly button, thigh, calf, etc. and write that down too. Has been interesting to see the fluctuations and overall body feelings and signals.
So true what Jonny says about weighing every day. I read so much about how one should not weigh and pay attention to the way your clothes fit, but that has never worked for me. I am always experimenting different things on my body and the last time I decided to do away with the scale, I gained almost 20 lbs. Never even realized it too much. Never again; I am back to weighing every single day and I do it in the way Jonny recommends and that is the only way I can control my weight. Thanks Jonny for making it so clear.