The great scale debate: where do you weigh in?

How do you feel about

“I just came from my yearly Dr. visit and I am shocked that I somehow managed to gain 15 pounds”.

These were the words that a new client of mine said to me last week.

This has totally happened to me in the past.

I haven’t always been a fan of the scale.

You see, back in the day my friends and I obsessively weigh ourselves up to 5-6 times a day!!!  Yeah, I know- insanity!

After awhile I got tired of the whole scale- obsession- thing and I would completely go the other direction and not weigh for months.

Everytime I went to THAT extreme (not weighing at all), I would eventually have to get on a scale…and inevitably it would respond by telling me, “you’ve gained weight”.

Sigh…

So back to my client…..

He told me had fallen off the exercise/ eating healthy wagon over the past few months and knew that he had put on some weight.  He said he had noticed that his clothes were fitting a bit tighter…but he was thinking he gained maybe 5 pounds…not 15.

I asked him if weighed himself on a regular basis and he told me no.  He said he had thrown out his scale a couple of years ago after his previous trainer told him to while on his weight loss program.

When I asked him why his former trainer recommended this he said, “because working out will cause me to lose fat and gain muscle which can show up as weight gain on the scale”.  He took it as get rid of the scale for good.

While it is true that body composition can change by replacing fat with muscle….it’s not easy and at a minimum it takes:

– Working out on a very consistent basis lifting heavy weights.
– Some kind of metabolic training to help aid with fat loss.
– A clean diet mostly (notice I didn’t say PERFECT), lean protein, tons of veggies, small amounts of healthy fat and carbs, plenty of water
– Great sleep to help with the “hormonal soup” needed for recovery/body comp change.

This is basically what it would take for the body to weigh “more on the scale” and not have it be weight gain from fat.

Most people aren’t doing all of these things for the weight gain showing up on the scale to actually be muscle and not fat.

In my client’s case, he was not working out consistently at all and his diet was definitely adding to his weight gain (fat not muscle).

I feel like if he was weighing in at least once a week, he could have adjusted his eating/exercise habits before it got him to this point.

I know that “throwing out the scale” is a thing now in the fitness industry and in SOME cases it makes sense.

In my opinion, the people who shouldn’t be weighing themselves regularly are those that:

*Have or had eating disorders.
*Those who become obsessive about weighing in, i.e., they weight multiple times per day, or it completely effects their mood or behavior for the rest of the day/week.
*Negatively impacts self esteem.
*Those who take extreme measures such as go on deprivation diets or extreme exercise programs after seeing a number that does not align with their perceived target weight.

If any of the above describes you, then it’s definitely not worth it!

Otherwise, I am of the camp that weighing in regularly is good thing.

In fact, studies (found here,and here), are showing that weighing in everyday
can play a significant role in helping people lose or maintain their weight over the long haul.

I agree with the studies.

Here’s why I’m all for weekly weigh-ins:

1) Weighing in weekly promotes self-regulation and awareness of your weight and how your behaviors affect your weight.

For some it may even help control impulsive behaviors to overeat.

For example, at work, we have a non-stop supply of snacks and junk foods that are consistently available pretty much on a daily basis.

It can be so easy to go in and grab a fistful of this & that, and I must confess;  I do grab a fistful of popcorn or chips from time to time.

But the weekly weigh-ins help to act as an accountability system to myself.  I tend to be much more aware of any snacking or mindless eating when I know I will be stepping on the scale that week.

2) It gives you instant feedback so you can track your weight trends over time.  

Everyone’s weight fluctuates on a daily basis.  That is completely normal (although it sure used to freak me out when I was younger!).

Some weigh-ins you might be up 2 lbs and then down 1. Or you could be down 3 lbs and up 2 the following week.

But it’s the trends over time that matter most.  If you see yourself trending towards a consistent weight gain over a month or two, it’s easier to take action and self assess as to why the numbers are creeping up vs. facing a really unpleasant surprise later.

3) Weighing in weekly can prevent extreme dieting.

If you think about it, when are people more likely to go on a- “21 day cleanse”, or “Detox”, or “Jumpstart”?

They do it when they haven’t weighed themselves for a period of time, and when they finally do; they are completely freaked out at the number they see on the scale.

True?

I’ve done it.

In the past I would be like, “Slimfast here I come.”

But if we weigh in weekly, we won’t experience “sticker shock” at what the scale is telling us…

aannd if we do see the numbers creeping up; we can make SMALL adjustments to our nutrition correct it!

NO EXTREME DIETING NEEDED!!

Which NEVER works long term and almost always sets up for gaining back all the weight we lost plus a few extra pounds on top of that.

Trust me.  Been there done that.

So my client and I have agreed he will weigh in with me once a week (plus we do pics and measurements once a month).

We will use the numbers purely as bio- feedback so we can get him back on track with his health and fitness goals.  Not beat himself up over the numbers.  Just clinical feedback the same way we use our blood pressure and cholesterol numbers so we can make long lasting changes.

What are your thoughts/ experiences with the scale?

Love it, hate it….somewhere in the middle?

 

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