You can be healthy at many weights and sizes. But if you want to lose weight, you may have wondered: to weigh in, or not to weigh in? The bathroom scale is the classic measurement tool for this task, to be sure, but there are plenty of reasons to consider not bothering with it.
A scale can tell you what your weight is at a current point in time, and that’s all. It can’t tell you how much of that weight is fat or muscle. It can’t tell that one pound is from a glass of water you just drank. And obsessing over that number can certainly lead you to some unhealthy behaviors. So should you weigh in, or not?
In my experience with losing weight, a scale can be an effective tool, if you understand its limitations and use it correctly. Seeing the number go down can be highly motivating, and a good indicator of progress with the right method. This is how I do it.
Get regular, good measurements
If you aren’t weighing in a way that’s consistent and accurate, you can’t learn anything useful from the number. Lots of little things can make your weight bounce around, and you’ve got to control for them as best you can to get good data.
First of all, use a good scale that rechecks your weight each time you step on it. Many bathroom scales store your recent weights, and will show you a stored weight rather than your actual current one. Check reviews and make sure the one you get doesn’t do that.
Second, be consistent about what time of day you weigh. Your weight bounces around during the day, so it’s not useful to compare one day’s morning weight with another day’s after-dinner weight. My method is to weigh myself when I wake up, after my first trip to the bathroom. That way, any excess water I drank the night before has had time to move through me.
Finally, be consistent in what kind of clothing you wear when you weigh yourself. You’d be surprised how much clothes weigh. Even a light set of pajamas can make a big difference.