Oh, You Didn’t Know That?
You know how sometimes there are things that come naturally to you that surprise you when you realize not everyone else understands it as intuitively as you? (The Grammar Police know exactly what I’m talking about.)
Well, that’s what it’s like with me and weighing myself. I always thought that other people knew the basic principles of weighing themselves intuitively, in order to guard against inaccurate readings, which can often lead to feelings of lower self-esteem and failure.
But they don’t.
It’s like setting yourself up to be disappointed in yourself for no reason…and that’s no good.
That said, I think it’s definitely important to maintain a healthy schedule of weighing yourself though — too much weighing can become obsessive and unhealthy, leading to feelings of constant failure or disappointment. But on the other hand, not weighing yourself can be an indication that you are ignoring what you’re doing to yourself food- and exercise-wise, with a cover of, “Hey, I don’t want to get too crazy about it.”
Awareness is Key
I would strongly argue that it is healthy to keep a general awareness of your weight and attempt to maintain a healthy one — the exact same way you would want to keep an eye on your finances and make sure you’re not spending too much or that you always have enough cash in the bank to cover your purchases.
And anyway: if you know the rules of weighing yourself, you’ll find it pointless to do it more than I suggest anyhow, because then you’d just be looking for disappointment on purpose.
Set yourself up for success!
So it surprised me when I was out exercising with a friend one day and we were talking about weighing ourselves, and she was bummed because this one day she said she weighed herself after coming home from something.
I was astounded. “You mean, you went out to eat and THEN you weighed yourself? And you actually took that number as being correct??”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I suddenly understood so much of her frustration with the scale in that instant, and realized how frustrating it must be to think those numbers mean something when in truth, they really don’t.
The human body is so complex and deals with so many factors all the time, coming and going, that you need to look at weighing yourself as an actual science — if you screw up the outside factors and don’t do it regularly with the correct baseline, you’ll never have an accurate read that you can count on.
And then you might as well just make up a number because you certainly won’t get an accurate read otherwise.
So here are the most important tips for weighing yourself. Once you get these down and follow them correctly, you can be sure you’re always getting an accurate read. (Now, learning to being happy with your true weight or finally fix it…well, that’s another blog post completely… :P)
9 Easy Tips for How to Weigh Yourself
1. Always Weigh Yourself at the Same Time Each Day
The proper time to weigh yourself each day is right upon waking up, if your sleeping schedule is relatively the same all the time. This is because it’s the easiest way to ensure you’ve digested your food and haven’t introduced any thing new that could throw it off. You can’t blame your weight on that margarita and salt you just had…
…because you just woke up and shouldn’t be having margaritas as a midnight snack. C’mon, I shouldn’t have to tell you that. :P
2. Always Weigh Yourself Naked, on an Empty Stomach, After a Bowel Movement (If Possible)
This is probably the most important rule that you must follow. You need to create that mathematical baseline with which to compare weights. Obviously food, clothing (and excrement!) weigh something. So if you always make sure you have the least amount of each every day when you weigh yourself, you will be able to accurately compare the previous day’s weight.
But if you’ve had breakfast, put on jeans and sweatshirt, drank 2 glasses of orange juice and haven’t pooped yet — your weight isn’t going to be comparable with yesterday’s, when you wore just your lightweight pjs, had only 1 glass of oj, skipped breakfast and maybe already had your morning poop.
Can you see how all of these different factors would affect it differently…?
3. When You Have Too Much Salt, Wait 2-3 Days to Readjust
Excessive consumption of salt can cause your body to retain water. If you’ve overindulged in particularly salty foods, it’s usually a good idea to wait a few days for your body to regulate itself back to normal, all the while drinking more water in order to flush out that salt that you consumed and try to get it back to regular levels.
There’s nothing more annoying than getting on a scale, feeling great, expecting a certain number and having it be way higher than you expected…but only because of salt. You truly cannot trust the scale at these times. And for your sanity, it’s best to wait it out and get back to it once you’ve regulated your salt/water balance.
The obvious lesson on this one is to try to never have too much salt. With a nutritarian diet (like I am a big fan of) you try to only eat natural salts that are a part of natural foods. Extra added salt is a no-no.
But who are we kidding — I love margaritas too.
Did you know that if you eat a plant-based diet only and get enough calories, that you will automatically get around 1,000-1,500 mg of salt anyway? Those foods with added sodium that are processed or just covered in salt can bring your daily sodium intake to more than 3,000 or 4,000 mg easily. And on a daily basis (considering the American average of sodium is around 3,500 mg daily, more than double the recommended intake by the American Heart Association) you can see why our bodies don’t perform quite optimally.
Let nature give you all the sodium you need…and don’t weigh yourself until after you’ve gotten it out of your system! If you get back on track, expect your body to readjust after a few days. That’s a good time to start weighing yourself again.
4. If You Overindulge, Give Yourself 3-5 Days to Come to Baseline
The same as with the salt recommendation, overindulgence will give your body more of a lot of things than it’s used to — whether it’s alcohol, salt, sugar, gluten or dairy…and if you have more than usual, you can’t really trust the scale as your body is working it’s magic to try to return back to normal.
So the weight you see for a few days won’t be quite correct or accurate, and you are better off (physically, mentally and emotionally) just waiting it out until you’re back to average.
5. Record Your Weight In A Visible Place
In a previous post about getting healthy again after New Years, I talked about how I always record my current weight on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker, as a way of motivating myself. One thing to note about this technique though, is that you need to be gentle with yourself about it.
If I’m feeling heavier or down about myself, I generally don’t start to record it until I know I’ve lost the top few guilt-pounds. :) Then I start recording. And most importantly, I never record it if it goes up, but only if it goes down. That might take me longer to go down, but I find it’s great for my psyche to always stay in the lowest weight mentality, with the serious intention to keep going.
And I can tell if I’ve gained, maintained or lost just by looking in the mirror, so if I think I haven’t lost anything, I will generally not weigh myself that day, just to avoid the anxiety.
This is all being gentle with my feelings, and knowing that I’m doing the best I can, and that it will go down eventually, when I’m in this weight-loss mode. Just some days are easier than others….but I always know it will get better.
6. Always Use The Same Scale
Very important. Scales are very sensitive instruments with a myriad of manufacturers, materials that they are constructed out of, and calibrations. If you are counting on the measurement of everyone’s scale at the same time, you will likely be disappointed most of the time.
For instance, don’t weigh yourself on your own scale for a week and then be disappointed when you go to your friend’s house and get on the scale in the evening, after a big meal with full clothes on…or if it’s a different kind of friend and you get on their scale naked the next morning. Hey, I’m not judging.
You really need to have all the same baselines to count on the number you see. And your baseline is what you’re used to on YOUR OWN scale. Use someone else’s randomly and you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.
Which brings me to the doctor’s scale…
7. The Doctor’s Scale Probably is More Accurate, But Go With Yours Instead
Of course the doctor’s office is going to have a very accurate scale. And I have noticed on average, that the doctor’s scale is CONSISTENTLY 3-5 pounds higher than any scale I have ever had at home. This leads me to believe one of two things:
- There’s a conspiracy among home scale manufacturers to make us feel better by a few pounds to increase our loyalty to the scale manufacturer. (Stranger things have happened probably :)
- Usually, when you go to use the doctor’s office scale, it’s with clothes on, after breakfast or lunch and you’ve already drank liquid during the day. So you will naturally be a few pounds heavier than when you first woke up.
The most likely of the two is the second one, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it came to a little of both. But just be realistic when you weigh yourself. And then there’s always the technique of standing backwards on the scale when they weigh you…
…so you don’t have to look and be disappointed! :)
The lesson here is that you should just use whatever is the most consistent scale in your life, the one you have at home. Don’t use someone else’s, and set yourself up for an incorrect reading…and hurt feelings.
8. Recalibrate Your Scale Often
Let’s face it: home scales that we buy at the store aren’t the most advanced pieces of machinery on the market.
Over time, with use and jostling around (I always store my scale upright next to the toilet to save floor space) the scale can be come uncalibrated. I will recalibrate my scale about every 4-5 uses just to make sure. I find that it really does help, especially because I use a digital scale.
To calibrate with an analog scale, set the scale on a flat surface and tap the side of the scale lightly to get the needle to zero. If its not at EXACTLY zero when you do this, turn the dial on the scale to get it to zero, while tapping simultaneously. Once it’s at exactly zero, you’re good to go. Analog scales might need this treatment before each use.
To calibrate a digital scale, personally I just remove the batteries and put them back in. Then you step on the scale and step off (disregarding all measurements you’ve seen up until this point). Then step back on and wait for it to give you your reading. Use the scale 3-5 times to find the true number. It will be the one you see most often. :-) Unless you’ve got a super expensive scale, you probably won’t need to do this. But that’s how you avoid the most disappointment if you’ve got a cheap-o, like mine.
9. New Workout Routines Can Change the Numbers
I have noticed that when I start any new workout routine (even just after periods of extended inactivity) that I can have a week or so of inaccurate readings. And it’s not that they’re inaccurate, exactly, but more that they are reflective of my body gaining a bit more muscle. Give yourself a week or two and your body will start to get into the new swing of things.
This is especially true of weight-lifting routines or heavy calisthenics. Less so with cardio based activities…and I’ve found that my “Crazy Dance” exercise I do…quite literally me just dancing like a crazy person…tends to throw me off for a day or two as well. But I get back to normal really quickly, scale-wise.
Suspend your judgement of yourself during these transitional periods and you’ll have an easier go of it for sure.
And To Lose The Weight…
As you can see, there are a TON of factors that go into the number you see on the scale. And it’s not really fair to yourself to put yourself through the literal ups and downs unless you understand what’s contributing to those numbers.
Now, if you’re still disappointed and know you can do better after getting smart about your scale, then it’s probably just time to lose some unwelcome weight! Start off by changing nothing about your routine, except for a brisk walk 30-45 minutes each day. (Don’t eat more food to compensate). Do this and you’ll start to lose weight soon, guaranteed.
Slowly introduce other changes like having more water, cutting out soda, or eating more fiber and you’ll be well on your way over time to losing those pounds — for good!
One last note that I want to mention is to be gentle with yourself at all times. Even though you’re trying to be the best version of yourself and always improve, it is okay to be less-than-perfect much of the time. After all, it is all just a journey of constant improvement.
Maybe the most important weighing-yourself-tip I could give you is to look in the mirror before you do it and say, “I love you no matter what number I’m about to see”…and really mean it.