Your Scale: Pal or foe?

Saturday, June 01, 2013
Your Scale: Pal or foe?

How would you define your relationship with your scale? Is it your friend or your worst enemy? Most people have a rocky relationship with their scale. They dread stepping over it and fear the result it may announce; their mood often depends on that encounter. However, no one can deny that weigh-ins are the perfect tool to evaluate progress during a weight loss program. They quantify our efforts and tell us whether we are on the right track or not. So weighing yourself is very important. But just like everything else, it has its own rules and regulations.


Choose the best type of scale

The best scale is the one that gives you a body composition analysis and can be found in any dietitian’s clinic. In fact, the total weight of a person comprises muscles, bones, liquids, and fat. So fluctuations cannot be read clearly by a regular scale. In fact, you could be losing fat and gaining muscle but still see those digits rising. You might think you are doing something wrong when you’re actually achieving a positive lifestyle. And in contrast, you could be losing muscle or water weight, thinking you are getting fitter. Body composition is much more important than any number you read on a machine!


Frequency of weigh-ins

Many contradictions exist regarding how frequently a person should step on a scale. There are pros and cons to yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily measurements. The most popular are daily and weekly.


Daily weigh-ins create a constant reminder of diet. In fact, they keep you aware that you should be watching your intake and allow you to evaluate whether your day was successful or not. However, some theories suggest that a body does not change in 24 hours and that there are daily fluctuations in weight which may mislead a person. This is why many prefer weekly weigh-ins. According to some, the latter seem to generate less pressure, and therefore keep you closer to sanity and away from obsession.


Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that people who weigh themselves daily are more successful in losing and maintaining their weight.


Dr Rena Wing, director of the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital and professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School in Providence, warns that: “Stepping on a scale isn’t enough. You have to use that information to change your behavior, whether that means eating less or walking more. Paying attention to weight — and taking quick action if it creeps up — seems to be the secret to success.”


It seems to be that the frequency of weigh-ins really depends on a person's personality. If you’re the type who obsesses about weight and is easily discouraged, then every day measurements are not such a good idea; you should probably stick to a weekly regimen.


Use the same weighing machine

It is very important to weigh yourself on the same scale since differences in calibrations and results may considerably vary from one measurement to another. Besides, when on a diet, it is more crucial to track changes in weight than to know the number itself.


Always weigh yourself at the same time of day

Variations in weight during the day are normal. In the morning, you are not as heavy as in the afternoon or at night. So it is best to choose a time that suits your schedule and always do so at that particular moment of the day. Of course, it is preferable to do it in the morning after going to the bathroom and before having anything to eat, just so you don’t blame your weight on the previous meal!


Get naked

Yes! Clothes can weigh up to 4 kg according to statistics. So wear as little as possible.


Never do it after your workout

Workouts can dehydrate your body and make it seem lighter. However, this will just reflect loss of water weight and you will gain it back a few hours later. Don’t kid yourself and avoid the scale after physical activity.


Ladies! Avoid weigh-ins during menstruation

Water retention during this time of the month is ordinary; so skip the whole process! You don't want any bad news... especially during this emotional period!


Put the scale on solid ground

Placing your scale on a carpet may lead to false results.


Make sure your scale is accurate

False readings are frequent when your scale is not well calibrated. Go for two or three consecutive weigh-ins to make sure of the results.


Let the scale be that friend that motivates you to keep on going! Allow it to be the tool that  helps you evaluate whether your efforts are well placed or not. Don’t fear it, just use it wisely. 

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