Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

University of Minnesota researchers reviewed studies with 3,000 people who were either trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss. Of those 3,000 people, approximately 40% weighed themselves daily, 20% weekly, and the remainder avoided the scale as much as possible. After 2 years, folks who did daily weigh-ins lost an average of 12 pounds. Weekly weigh-ins lost 6. While those who avoided their scales gained 4.

Folks who did daily weight checks said that their frequency helps them to avoid gaining back unwanted pounds. If they see the scale creep up a bit, they act on it quickly. Researchers speculate that consistent scale feedback helps dieters set goals and eliminate small fluctuations before they are large gains.

However, there is a lot more to a scale than a mere measure of weight. In our culture, we (women especially) have given scales a lot of power. Their feedback of our weight tends to directly correlate with our body image and self confidence. I am sure that your daily, weekly, or infrequent weigh-ins have their own ritual... Perhaps you...

1. Carefully clean your scale before stepping onto it?
2. Grab the towel rack and gingerly set each foot onto the scale before releasing the bar and gently easing your weight onto it?
3. Hold your breath, close your eyes, look down and only then carefully open your eyes?
4. Measure a known quantity item, e.g., a 10 pound bag of flour, to ensure your scale's accuracy before weighing yourself?

I don't know too many women who can blithely hop onto their scale, glance disinterestedly at the number, and merrily go off to face the day.

So, while it is a good idea to keep tabs on the numbers... keep the following in mind before you let them ruin your day... or develop an unhealthy obsession that just might lead to an eating disorder.

1. Scales do tend to be inaccurate and do not indicate if the weight is due to muscle, bone, flesh or flab.
2. Your body weight can fluctuate up to as much as five pounds during the course of a day.
3. Your body weight can fluctuate alot more than that as a result of your monthly cycle.

It is much healthier to use a range of measurements to determine overall fitness, including BMI, body fat, and circumference measurements than to paint a picture of yourself based on the numbers on the scale. And whatever those numbers are, don't attribute your entire self esteem and self worth to those numbers. We really are more than what we weigh ;)

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