Weighing yourself can be both hugely motivating and also incredibly demoralising. Most of us at some stage in our lives, have experienced the joy of reaching a weight loss goal, fitting new clothes, losing a lb or 10lbs etc, it can instantly put you in good mood and really motivate you. Contrasted with that, if we gain weight, it can cripple our morale and be detrimental to our consistency. Even worse, if we expected our weight to drop.
How often we weigh ourselves, really comes down to our goals. Weight can fluctuate wildly throughout the day, sometimes by more than 1kg/2lbs. We are typically heavier in the evening and weight fluctuates depending on water levels, food, muscle levels, poo, time of the month for women, clothing, bloating, using different scales or doing it on uneven floor surfaces. Consistency and removing as many variables as you can are vital. Weigh yourself in the same way, at the same time of day, same machine, on a flat surface (vital), in the same clothes (or not) and on the same day.
If you have access to body fat callipers or a bioimpedence machine (a gym will have them) that can measure your body fat %, use this as well. Be sure the person measuring your body fat, knows how to. Body Fat % will give you a more accurate idea of health and fat levels. None of these are 100% accurate either and are also susceptible to variables.
Bare in mind if you are exercising, you can gain weight through more muscletone. Gaining weight can often be a good thing. Don’t use BMI it’s way too inaccurate. Hormones, PCOS, thyroid function, medication and other medical conditions can affect the speed of both weight gain and weight loss. However, don’t use medical conditions as an excuse to eat unhealthily and/or not exercise. Don’t ignore your weight and body fat% if they are unhealthy, it will eventually catch up on you.
Do not weigh yourself everyday. If you find yourself obsessing about weight, I recommend you stop weighing yourself. Stop it altogether or you could get a friend, partner or fitness professional to do it and not tell you the numbers, just to tell you when its improved. Also anyone with very low self esteem or an eating disorder, should not weigh themselves – checkout www.bodywhys.ie for help with this.
For Weight Loss
If someone wants to lose weight, I recommend weighing yourself no more than once a week. As explained above, weight can fluctuate wildly. Also only over a few weeks, can real progress be measured. Remember it is really fat you want to lose not necessarily weight. You could gain muscle if exercising or gain weight if drinking more water than before. The good news is, the more fat or ‘weight” someone has to lose, the quicker they should lose it – when following the right diet for them and exercising consistently.
However, we can’t keep losing weight, we’ll disappear! Expect a slowdown, expect weeks where you were really good but not to drop, expect to hit plateaus. At some point you also have to reduce how often you do it and just use it as a rough guide to maintaining your health. Track your weight readings each week on a graph. Graph out each week measuring changes, similar to the graph I use below. I can measure weight, fat %, muscle mass and water levels but you can just track your weight. However if you only have a small amount of body fat to lose, your weight may not show you much improvements. As shown in the example below, this client of mine was losing lots of body fat but her weight barely changed due to her muscletone gains. She also dropped a dress size but if she had just been measuring her weight alone, it would have been very demoralising.
Track your food and exercise routine too using the myfitnesspal app. Celebrate all and any improvement, no matter how small or gradual. Small improvements lead to big results.
For Body Maintenance
If you are a naturally slim person, weighing yourself or measuring your body fat too often isn’t needed. Your clothes will be a good indication. Focus on eating healthily and exercising regularly.
If you’ve reached your goals, again just weigh yourself sporadically keeping an eye on things occasionally, to ensure you stay healthy and fit. If fat and weight starts to creep up over a prolonged period, it may be time to get back “in the zone” and become healthy again? Focus on your diet and when ready, go back to weighing yourself once a week.
However, if you’re not in “the zone” for weightloss – yet. It might be best to try and focus on maintaining your weight or body fat levels, until such time that you are ready. Focus on exercising first and this will help get you in the right frame of mind. However, don’t keep putting it off for months. If you are unhealthy and/or unhappy, the sooner you act the sooner you see results and feel good again 🙂 Set small realistic goals.
For Weight Gain
Whether you are hoping to gain muscle or have been advised by a medical professional to gain weight, I recommend following the same routine as someone losing weight (above). Ensure you are eating enough calories for your goals and that they are the right type of calories, a nutritionist or fitness professional can advise you of this. Weight gain is typically much slower than weight loss. Factors like thyroid function, PCOS, medical conditions and genetics etc have huge baring on weight gain. Be patient and consistent.
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