Healthy and Sane

The scale dilemma

January 13th, 2011 · 59 Comments · weigh-in recaps, weight loss struggles

Today is Thursday, also known as weigh-in day. I’ve had some ups and downs over the past few weeks and decided that I need to get my food and head in order before I start really worrying about the scale.

Actually last week I knew I gained weight and I knew that I couldn’t handle seeing a higher number yet again. So I opted out of weighing in that morning, in my bathroom, and then signed in at my Weight Watchers meeting that afternoon without weighing in as well (btw, Weight Watchers leaders get paid based on how many people show up, so I always make sure to sign-in even if I don’t want to weigh-in… my leader is motivating and I want her to keep coming back!!).

This week, as mentioned in my challenges and solutions post, I’ve been observant of my behavior. The first part of the week was good. I had no sweets in the house and seemed to be doing well. I didn’t track my points but I was happy with how I was eating. Then the quosi-bingeing began which I nipped in the bud after the said post. Two days ago I got back on track and yesterday I actually tracked my points and stayed within my allowance. I was back to really following the program and very happy about it!

Last night I had no intention of weighing in. I always think it’s important to focus on what you’re doing (or not doing) rather than what the scale reflects… because that to an extent is out of your control… and it will catch up eventually with your actions, either way.

And then curiosity got the best of me and this morning, like a zombie, I went into the bathroom and turned that baby on. And I was crushed. CRUSHED. [157.2lbs]

After coffee and breakfast and reflecting through blogging (thank you for being my therapists Winking smile ) now I’m just trying to figure out whether I stick to my plan of weighing in only once a month and focusing on just following the program or whether these weekly reminders (good or bad) are a necessary part of the progress. Now that I’m over the shock, I think I’m actually more motivated than say, 3 days ago (when I let myself comfort myself with food). There is that unsettling feeling nonetheless. Motivation and defeat are competing for my attention!

How do you feel about the scale? If you were ever in weight-loss mode, how often did you weigh-in? A few years ago I actually weighed myself every day! Don't tell anyone smile

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59 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - maria @ Chasing the Now

    I only weigh in from time to time (once a week or less) because I know the effect that number can have on me–and I’m not even trying to lose weight!

    If it’s a mood killer, I say stick with your gut and focus on making changes, rather than the number on the scale. Just check in occasionally to see where you’re at.

    Another idea: You could still weigh in at your meeting, but ask them to not tell you/write down in your booklet the number. I don’t know how your meeting is set up, so maybe you could stand backwards on the scale or something like that?

    Life’s too short to be upset about your weight all the time. :)

    • #2 - Elina

      Hi Maria, I actually don’t even look at the number they write down at the WW meeting because I already weigh myself in the AM at home on an empty stomach and with no clothes on. I agree that life’s too short to be upset about weight – working on that! :)

  • #4 - Shelly Smith

    I lost 50 pounds on WW back in 2004 but i did gain some back and I am getting that off thru clean eating and being a vegan. (which is so the way to go!) I am now in the ‘normal’ range for my height but I’d like to lose another 10lbs.

    The scale should only be one tool. I weigh once a week. You should also use clothing as a guide and measurements can help maintain your sanity. If you are working out then you may be building muscle, which will make you weigh more but look thinner so take that into account as well.

    Your weight can flucuate as much as 8 to 10 lbs in a single day so you can’t let that number rule you. I think it’s good to have a range you are staying within so a single number isn’t your goal or indicator of success and failure. Choose a 5 lb range. Other factors like time of the month, wether you’ve just eaten, wether you’ve used the bathroom, how much water you’ve had (or havne’t had) and even what clothes you have on can affect the scale. I weigh first thing in the morning, totally naked on my weigh in day (friday) .. good luck!

    • #5 - Elina

      Shelly – clothes are definitely a great tool and my very tight pants (a few months ago) were actually the trigger to start weighing myself. I was so shocked by what I saw – it was 15lbs higher than last time I checked! I will definitely keep using the clothes as one tool but also need to add the scale to my toolbox since not weighing got me in a bigger hole that I’m sure I would’ve been in if I weighed myself all throughout summer.

  • #6 - Val @ Balancing Val

    I havent weighed myself since I started my intuitive eating journey back in august.

    Honestly the past few months have been great getting to know myself without the obsession but I can now admit (like I did on todays emotional post)

    That its time to finally lose some weight. My bf and I are debating whether we should put batteries back in the scale. I feel like this is still a trigger for me so I dont think Im going to weigh myself.

    But sometimes I feel like that number will give me motivation?

    • #7 - Elina

      If the scale may trigger you, don’t do it! Maybe try it once and see what happens? You won’t know whether it’s motivating or detrimental until you try!

  • #8 - Shelly Smith

    wow.. it was too early for me to speall’ whether’ this morning! Val … I use the number for motivation… if it’s what I want to see then I know that what I’m doing is working and that encourges me to stay on track. If it’s a number I don’t want to see thenI can get control of what needs to be changed or to look back at what I’ve been doing the past week. I think the number will affect you how you choose to let it affect you so you need to make it a positive tool.

  • #9 - D

    I think that there is nothing wrong with weighing in, even doing it every day. I think that the more you avoid weighing in, the more power you give to that number, and instead of being empowered by not knowing, it becomes a denial thing. Women always say (in the blog world, especially) that it’s just so awesome and great that they don’t rely on the scale. Well, I think that’s fine if they truly don’t worry about their weight or fitting into their jeans. But some people DO have to keep track (I don’t have weight to lose but I still weigh in every day) and there’s nothing wrong with keeping on top of it. The number on the scale DOES indicate something about your health. No it doesn’t say you are healthy or unhealthy, but it’s just a number (like your cholesterol, heart rate, etc.) that indicates something about your body. I believe that weighing in frequently takes away the mystery and fear of doing it, rather than increasing it. I personally find that it’s helpful to weigh in every day, and then take note of the trend throughout the week, and the number at the end of the week is the one that matters. Throughout the week, you will see fluctuations based on food/time of day/etc, and if you only weigh in once a week or once a month, you might have an unlucky day and see a higher number (but you won’t see the full picture). For example, if you start the week at 150, and it trends down to 148-149 over the course of the week, but then on the last day of the week it jumps up to 153 (maybe you had a big meal the night before or are bloated or whatever) then you would know that it’s a fluke and you could safely assume that you’re around 149, since you’ve seen the weekly pattern. But if you only weighed in once a week, and you happened to do it on a day after a big salty meal, you might assume you actually gained three pounds that week, and it would be really discouraging.

    • #10 - MelissaNibbles

      I agree with what D says here. I never lost weight hiding from the scale, but that’s just how I am.
      I really think it comes down to wanting to do it and sticking to it. It’s so tough though!

    • #11 - Elina

      D – I totally was thinking about that exact thing when I considered doing it just once a month. What if I had one bad day and wrote the whole month off? That would be horrible. I actually kind of like your idea of going back to daily weigh-ins but maybe in a bit. I REALLY don’t like the number I see these days and I think seeing it every morning would just put me in the bad mood from the start. Eventually I may go back to it. I think you’ve at least convinced me to stick to weekly weigh-ins at the minimum :)

  • #12 - Lauren at KeepItSweet

    I go back and forth with the scale. I used to weigh myself every day and then stopped for a while because it was too much. Now I am back to doing that because if I don’t weigh myself, I can fool myself into thinking that a few extra cookies here and there aren’t a big deal. Also, knowing I am going to step on the scale the next morning sometimes is enough to keep me from throwing in the towel when I am tempted.

    • #13 - Elina

      Lauren – the scale hasn’t stopped me from eating anything (yet!) but you’re right – it definitely keeps you accountable to an extent… even if it’s only once a week!

  • #14 - Di

    I used to weigh myself almost daily after I reached goal the first time. It was kind of sick. I’m much better about it now.

    I weigh in once a week on Thursdays (I think I’ve skipped once since I restarted) and just deal with whatever I see. I weigh in first thing in the morning at home, naked, so that way there’s no way I can blame what I’m wearing or anything like that. If I don’t weigh in, I tend to make worse decisions but if I do weigh in, I feel more motivated — loss or gain — to stick to the plan. That’s just me though!

    I think it’s great that you recognized that you were starting to binge and nipped it in the bud. That’ll definitely help the scale move in a downward direction. :)

  • #15 - Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

    I like to weigh in a bit more regularly when I’m in a weight loss phase so that I know if I’m on track. When I’m maintaining then I don’t weigh in as often.

  • #17 - Michelle

    Regardless of whether I’m in weight loss mode or not, I weigh myself every morning so that I can keep myself on track.

  • #18 - Lauren

    The scale question is a tough one because when the number you see is not the number you want it can really ruin your day, but at the same time I think the scale keeps you accountable when you are trying to lose weight.

    When I was losing weight I weighed myself everyday in the am. It really kept me on track and increased my motivation.

    I know alot of people say the number on the scale doesn’t matter because you could be gaining muscle which is true, but you aren’t gaining muscle if your jeans are getting tighter.

    Just keep trying Elina, you will get to where you want to be!

    • #19 - Elina

      Yeah, I’m not fooling myself into thinking it’s muscle weight. Thanks! All these encouraging comments brought me back into reality. The scale is not the end of the world and I WILL turn things around. 😀

  • #20 - Carly

    I hate the scale… my pants have been a very good indicator of the weight I’ve gained. In the past 7 months the only time I weighed myself was at the doctor. I stress too much about numbers (see my most recent post for my previous struggles). The number on the scale is so dependent on various other factors. I actually prefer circumference measurements to see if my shape has changed!

    • #21 - Elina

      I keep meaning to measure myself but it’s such a pain! Maybe this weekend – it’s definitely a better indicator although moves a lot slower.

  • #22 - Emily

    I don’t like scales.. but I check in at the gym every couple weeks if I feel like I’m a little on the heavier side. Weight can very so much throughout the day that I like to look at more mid-term results.

  • #23 - betsy

    I think facing the scale weekly is your best option for weight loss. it sucks to see it weekly, but at least you’ll know if you are making progress!

    Don’t let it get you down, keep on trucking! I am trying to lose 10 ish pounds and reading your posts is really helping me…because we’re in the same boat! ?

    • #24 - Elina

      Yeah after all, I think weekly weigh-ins are my best bet right now. I like that Thursdays are my “fresh start” no matter what happened the week before. The ww meetings definitely help with that! :)

  • #25 - Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle

    I don’t weigh myself every day, but I do hop on the scale maybe two or three times a week. The only one that “counts” though is Monday morning. Monday is the biggest reality check day for me because it’s right after the weekend (when I struggle the most with eating) so it helps to keep me in line.

  • #27 - Jess

    I do weigh myself everyday because it helps keep me accountable and reflect on how what I eat has an affect on the number I see on the scale. That being said, I do understand that fluctuations can occur for a variety of reasons. You can’t let that number control you, especially because it sounds like you’re really trying to stay on track, but it is a factor in health. I think this is a personal decision you have to make. Don’t get discouraged, you seem so aware of your health, your body image and worth:)

  • #28 - Lizzy

    I have my weigh in tomorrow and I had a bad day yesterday of eating way too much. I’m scared!! But the entire process of losing weight is a marathon not a sprint and you are going to have good days and bad days. Right now my focus is on getting my body fat % down and not worrying too much on weight….

    I say weighing in each week helps you stay focused but stay positive and now this is not an overnight thing : )

    • #29 - Elina

      Lizzy – I love the body % goal but you can’t really see changes weekly which is the one thing that I don’t like about it. It’s definitely a much better indicator, though, in the long term. Good luck tomorrow… although I’m sure you don’t need any luck! 😉

  • #30 - Annie

    I think how often you weigh in depends on the number’s affect on you. When you saw the number this week, did it make you feel more motivated or make you want to quit? I don’t weigh myself every day, but I weigh myself more than once a week.

    Godd luck!

    • #31 - Elina

      Annie – I went through the whole roller coaster of emotions – I got super discouraged and frustrated but as I thought about during the day, it motivated me. I am ready to change it!!

  • #32 - Sarah W.

    I PERSONALLY think weighing EVERYDAY while DIETING is a GOOD thing. So does While sometimes the number “gets” to me, I KNOW that during a week’s time, the number will fluctuate wildly, and not necessarily b/c I ate a huge meal, etc.

    I’m a binger too. But ever since ramping up my animal protein intake to 100g+ daily (I’m doing BFL eating/workout style), my bingeing is LESS! AND i’m also eating a bit MORE than I was (I think that I probably wasn’t consuming enough calories for my activity level).

    I also try to drink 3L water daily, I think this helps with keeping my body happy and full.

    Just a thought.

  • #33 - Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    I weigh in a few times a week. For me, it only confirms what I already know. I already KNOW when I gain and lose weight (even a few lbs) because I can feel it.

    Great job observing your habits.

    • #34 - Elina

      Yup, I definitely know whether the number is going to be good and bad but somehow it’s easy to avoiding the issue when you don’t like the answer. I think the scale is for me after all.

  • #35 - Allison

    I hate the scale. I have been overweight, I have lost weight, I have maintained my weight at a very healthy weight and I have hated the scale through all of it. Just because it works for some people, just because some people find the number motivating, doesn’t mean that it is going to work for everyone. How I look in my clothes tells me a lot more than anything. If I look good, I feel good. If I look GREAT and step on the scale and see a number I don’t like, it can ruin my day. What is the point of that? You know if you are eating and excercising right…keep track of that if that is what works for you.

    • #36 - Elina

      Allison – I definitely plan on mostly focusing on doing the work and will try to not let the scale get the best of me anymore. I’m sure that once I do the work, it will show me numbers I can be proud of… if not 1 week then the week after!

  • #37 - One Healthy Apple

    The scale is loved and hated and an overall controversial topic for women for this very reason. It’s supposed to be an objective measurement, but it’s so hard to remove emotions from it.

    I used to weigh in daily and now I weigh in about twice a month. I don’t remember when I stopped, but I think not focusing on the number and focusing on the actions (like you eloquently stated) is more important. Focus on your accomplishments and the numbers will get where they need to be.

  • #38 - Hallie

    When I first lost weight years ago, I don’t remember being scale-focused at all until the end. But I also went through a “weigh every day” period and “weigh every month” phase and neither were quite right. Now I do it once a week (but I usually peek mid-week) for Weight Watchers and I think that consistency is good. I’m exactly where I’ve been all month, which is SUPER frustrating because I’m following the plan completely, but I think (hope?) that eventually the scale will catch up with my habits. I don’t know if I’ll reach my 15lb goal by my July 2 wedding but I think if I keep it up and trust the process, I’ll get there. And I think you will too. You really inspire me.

    Phew…sorry for the novel there!

    • #39 - Elina

      Hallie – you have plenty of time before your wedding – just keep at it, you’ll be successful for sure. A wedding is an amazing motivator as silly as it sounds. We should all be and do our best no matter what event comes up but there is just something about it. You can do it!!! 😀

  • #40 - Kate

    I weigh myself pretty much every day, sometimes twice a day. I’m not sure if it helps me maintain my weight, since I don’t think it really affects my eating habits, but maybe it does subconsciously–if I know im a pound or two heavier than I’d like to be, I keep that in the back of my mind during the day and maybe turn down food that I’m otherwise tempted to have, so it doesn’t get any worse.

  • #41 - Kelly

    I have a love-hate relationship with the scale. On the positive side, it can be a tangible motivator. Numbers in the right direction can motivate me to press on while those in the opposite direction can cause me to be more observant of my behavior.

    I have been weighing in a bit (because I am doing WW online) but have mostly been staying away. This is predominantly because last time I became obsessed. I weighed daily and every fraction of a pound made a huge difference in my mood. I also became obsessed with the drops to the point I wanted to keep losing even though the number was becoming borderline unhealthy. Now I weigh myself just often enough to get a sense of my progress. I only wish I had someone to measure me as well. That would be a nice compliment so I truly could judge how my body is changing.

    • #42 - Elina

      You have the best attitude!! :) Oh and they have these scalper things that you don’t need help with. I do my measurements on my own. Maybe I’ll take pictures of what I have sometime!

  • #43 - janetha @ meals and moves

    i used to be a scale freak. i would always weigh myself. i haven’t weighed myself in over a year and i REALLY don’t ever want to again. i am happy with how i look but i know that i weigh more than what i consider what i “should” weigh since i am so short. i dont want a number to make me sad, so i just don’t weigh myself EVER. not even when i go to the doctor’s office. i just tell them i don’t do scales, and they don’t make me hop on. if i feel like i really need to get my weight in check, i get more strict with my clean eating and exercise and i monitor it by the way i look, not by how much i weigh. this might sound funny, but i usually can monitor my weight by how close the larges part of my thighs are to each other. if they have, like, 2 or 3 inches that are touching each other.. i know it’s time to get back to serious business. if they don’t touch at all, then i am in a good spot. i wonder what i should call this method.. haha.

    love you, lady.

  • #48 - Shannon

    yeah, this is tough. i haven’t weighed myself in a very long time… maybe part of the problem, i can’t see how bad it is? but i feel liek it’s just going to make it worse :(

    • #49 - Elina

      Yeah, don’t do it. I think if you haven’t felt the need to step on that scale, avoid it! You know what you need to work on and what things you’re already doing right, the scale won’t tell you anything new.

  • #50 - Kara

    On that MTV show “I used to be fat” they only weigh in like every 3 weeks or something. I think that’s a good approach.

    Is it sad that I’m using MTV shows as an example? Probably :)

    • #51 - Elina

      Hahaha, love the MTV reference. 3 weeks is so random; why not just monthly?

  • #52 - Alicia

    First time commenting on your blog… I just want to thank you for being an amazing example of a dynamic woman. You’re intelligent, beautiful, have a great job, supportive husband/family, etc. I know it’s tough not to obsess over the scale, but please don’t let some silly numbers ruin your mood. Life’s too short… and Boston has too many good restaurants that need to be reviewed;)!

  • #54 - allie

    great question and i love reading through the different responses. i personally never ever weigh myself; the last time was at the doc last year. i am short and i do carry a good bit of muscle, so the number always messed with my head. i use my clothes (i choose one or two items of clothes in particular) as a gauge. after reading these comments though, it seems like the number is such a hard and fast way to really track progress (or a slip). great things tothink about, and i guess with all things it all comes down to what works for you.

  • #55 - Tania

    I weigh myself pretty frequently… I find its a good motivator and much easier to correct a half pound gain than a bigger one. That said, if I know I’m up, I tend to avoid the scale and try to be good for a few days before getting back on.

  • #56 - Meghan@travelwinedine

    I used to weigh myself every day, now, never. I judge by the way my clothes fit and adjust my diet and movement accordingly. Don’t let it get you down, you looked strong, healthy, fit, and beautiful when I saw you the other day!

  • #57 - Steph

    Here’s the thing about the scale – if I choose to get on it I have to remind myself that I am accepting the risk of letting a number dictate my emotions for at least the next 5 hours.

    Sometimes I am okay with that, most the time I am not, but none the less I’m holding myself accountable to me – not some fairy tale number.
    After all, my worth in this world is not determined by weighing x amount.

  • #58 - Rachael

    I’m not proud to admit that scale numbers can totally color my day. I keep one as a security blanket – I know it’s there, but I’m hesitant to use it unless I’m in a really good and confident move. I still get derailed pretty easily.

  • #59 - jessica

    I bought a scale for the first time in years in November and have only checked my weight twice since then. I think they can be a beneficial tool but since our weight naturally fluctuates day to day it’s important not to obsess over the numbers. My energy levels and how I feel in my clothes are better indicators for me.