Daily weighing not such a bad idea

scale_footIs daily weighing good or bad?

I used to weigh myself every day.  Then the scale broke.  Without a scale, I gave up on weighing myself for many years.  My days were not defined by a number.  Aside from a yearly visit to the doctor, I just judged my shape by how my clothes fit.

It’s a safe bet that, if you’ve tried to lose weight, you’ve used a scale to track progress, or as as early warning system for weight gain.  Since giving up my own scale, I haven’t been a fan of recommending daily weigh-ins to people, although I realize it’s helpful for some people.  But for others, it might just be too much.  Weight fluctuates from one day to the next, depending on fluid balance, and that kind of thing can be really frustrating for dedicated dieters.  An extra pound shows up one morning and you’re a failure.  The day is ruined.

So I was interested to see the results of a new study that suggest daily weighing is actually a good idea for dieters.  Here’s how it went:

  1. The study subjects were obese adults, mostly female and white.
  2. Half the subjects were given special electronic wireless scales and told to weigh themselves daily.  Weight data was transmitted to the researchers.
  3. These subjects also got feedback on their weight, as well as diet and exercise advice.  The other group did not receive scales or diet advice.
  4. After 6 months, the daily weighers had lost almost 3 times as much weight as the control group.  The weighing group also were more likely to utilize diet and exercise strategies that helped with weight loss.  They ate fewer calories and burned up more calories with exercise than the control group.
  5. Daily weighing — 7 days a week — made a difference in weight loss even compared to those people who weighed 5 days a week.  That’s pretty interesting.  Does it suggest that people who stuck to daily weighing were just more highly motivated in general?

So why did daily weighing help?  The researchers concluded that daily weighing, at least for this group, was part of a larger strategy for weight control.  A way for people to stay focused, and perhaps a motivational tool as well.  After all, if you are going to step on that scale every single morning, you’re more likely to stick to healthier food options and to your exercise plan.

Should you take up daily weighing?

If you feel that daily weighing will add structure and motivation to your weight loss efforts, perhaps it’s a good plan.  You just have to be OK with the random variations from one day to the next.  The real measure of weight loss success is over longer time periods, such as a week or a month.

If you feel that the scale is your enemy and that the daily number could put you in a bad mood if the scale went in the wrong direction, then it may not be the best idea for you.  The subjects for this study were, after all, volunteers.  People who react badly to daily weighing weren’t likely to participate, so we don’t know how enforced daily weighing would impact their diet efforts.

Modern bathroom scales come in many variations and price points.  If you don’t care about body fat measurements or BMI calculations, a simple inexpensive scale is just fine.

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