There are right and wrong ways to getting an accurate picture of your health.
It’s health resolution time, which for many people means storming Google with questions about getting and staying fit.
A lot of the answers that bubble up are going to center around losing weight — so the first thing to know is: It is 100 percent OK to love your body and still want to lose weight.
Body positivity and weight loss aren’t mutually exclusive. The positivity lies in how you set your intention and goals to be happiest with you.
One way to practice holistic health is to challenge how you face your scale
When it comes to staying healthy, there’s never one method of measurement. Relying solely on the scale is where the scale gets its bad rap.
Still, weighing yourself can be tricky. What kind of scale should you get it? Should you weigh yourself if you’re trying to build muscle? Do the rules change if you’re just trying to lose weight?
In other words, what exactly is the right way to weigh yourself?
- 1x week
- in the mornings
- same way every time (e.g., after pooping, with or without clothes)
- with a tracker
- only if it doesn’t trigger anxiety or disordered eating
If you’re tracking progress, you might be tempted to hop on the scale on a daily basis — but don’t.
“There’s no reason to weigh yourself more than once a week. With daily water fluctuations, body weight can change drastically on a day-to-day basis,” says Rachel Fine, registered dietitian and owner of To the Pointe Nutrition.
“Weighing yourself at the same time on a weekly basis will give you a more accurate picture.”
When your weekly weigh-in rolls around, don’t hop on the scale after drinking a bottle of water or eating a meal. For the most accurate weight, weigh yourself first thing in the morning.
“[Weighing yourself in the morning is most effective] because you’ve had adequate time to digest and process food (your ‘overnight fast’). It won’t be affected by what you’ve eaten or haven’t quite processed yet,” says Lauren O’Connor, registered dietitian and owner of Nutri Savvy Health.
If you want the number on the scale to be accurate, you have to keep the variables to a minimum.
If you weigh yourself naked one week and decked out in workout clothes the next, the number on the scale is going to be different — but it’s going to have nothing to do with how much weight you’ve gained or lost. (Sneaker weight doesn’t count!)
Be consistent when you weigh yourself. Weigh yourself at the same time. If you go to the bathroom before you jump on the scale, go before you do it again next time. Weighing yourself without clothes? Keep it that way, or try wearing the same clothes week to week.
You’re weighing yourself once a week. You’re seeing the number on the scale go down. But if you really want to squeeze the most benefit out of your relationship with your scale, you need to track your progress.
Tracking your weight loss — whether that’s by keeping a spreadsheet of your weekly weigh-ins or using a weight loss app — will help you get a better overall picture of what’s happening with your body.
It’ll help you identify patterns, make sure things are moving in the right direction, and can also motivate you to keep going when you feel like abandoning your diet and weight loss goals.
Make it automatic Even better? Invest in a smart scale, which connects to an app on your phone. Not only will the scale and app automatically track your weight loss progress, but smart scales also measure things other than weight, like body fat percentage and muscle mass, which can give you a better overview of your health as a whole.
It’s OK to give up the scale, especially if it’s not making you feel any healthier or better about yourself.
Tried it and all it did was give you anxiety? Ditch it.
Does its presence trigger a spiral of negative thoughts? Dump it and consider that 2 pounds lost!
Sometimes the best measurement is progress, including discovering that the scale isn’t for you.
For people with eating disorders or disordered eating habits, a scale in your home can be completely unnecessary. Weigh-ins can be left to meetings with your healthcare provider so you can focus your energy on other things that make you healthy and happy.
It’s important to remember that while the scale is a helpful way to gauge your progress, it’s by no means the only way. Part of weighing yourself the right way is recognizing that the number on the scale doesn’t always tell the whole story.
If you choose to weigh yourself once a week, invest in a smart scale that gives you more information than just your weight, like body fat percentage and muscle mass — but also track your progress in other ways too.
“There are many other ways to check in besides the scale, including your energy levels… how tight your clothes are fitting, [and] tracking food and exercise,” reminds O’Conner.
By learning and relying on other signs, you may ultimately be able to ditch the scale — especially after it runs out of batteries.
Deanna deBara is a freelance writer who recently made the move from sunny Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. When she’s not obsessing over her dog, waffles, or all things Harry Potter, you can follow her journeys on Instagram.