Weighing yourself daily can be an effective way to track your health, as long as you don’t become obsessed with the numbers.
If you are trying to lose weight, then remember that permanent weight loss is a very gradual process that comes from healthy food selection, portion control and exercise. Don’t allow yourself to jeopardize your health by trying to get the numbers to go down quickly through eating an unbalanced diet, working out excessively or succumbing to an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
If you are trying to maintain a healthy weight, then use the numbers as a guide for when you may be getting sick or over training. If you have a daily weight log, you may notice rapid swings in your weight a few days before you actually feel sick, and is always a good indication that it’s time to back off a little on your training plan to allow yourself a little rest.
Here are 9 ways to utilize a daily weight chart that is actually useful:
- Always weigh yourself first thing in the morning after your bowel movement (if you regularly have one first thing in the morning) and before you have done any sort of physical activity or eaten anything. This gives you a control and allows you to compare your weight from one day to the next. Your weight can fluctuate five or more pounds throughout the course of a day.
- Always weigh yourself naked or at least wearing the same clothing for much the same reasons as above. If you wear the same bathrobe or pajamas every morning, then it won’t matter, but if you wear a 4 pound bathrobe one day and a 4 ounce pair of skivvies the next, you can’t really compare the numbers.
- Do not zero the scale. Let the numbers be “wrong”. The idea is not so much to achieve some arbitrary number on the scale, it is to track the trends from day to day and week to week. If you know that the scale is going to give you an inaccurate weight, you won’t care as much what it says. Just make sure that you your guests or family don’t accidentally zero it for you.
- Write your weight down every day that you weigh yourself. If you put it into a notebook, you can flip back and forth. If you put it in a spreadsheet, you can make graphs that can show you trends. You can track your weight daily with any number of online tools that will graph your weight for you. Either way, you can look back and actually glean some useful data from it to help determine if a swing is normal or not. Personally, I recommend a standard 12 month calendar.
- Don’t worry if you weigh more or less than yesterday. From one day to the next, given you follow the above and you are healthy, you should be within a pound or two of the previous day’s measurement. If you are more than 3 pounds lighter, then you may be getting sick or may need some extra rest. If you are more than 3 pounds heavier, then perhaps you forgot to empty your bladder or your bowels first. If you are weighing yourself daily, understand that your weight will vary from day to day. It’s the trends that are important. You may find it useful to make a graph of your weight rather than looking at the individual numbers each day.
- Use a scale that is consistent. The scale should give the same weight reading when you step on, then off, then on again. That’s more important than the type of scale that you buy. Use the same scale each day.
- Put the scale on a flat, uncarpeted surface so the readings don’t wobble. This will help you get a consistent reading from day to day.
- Don’t get fixated on the scale. Monitor your body changes in other ways, such as the fit of your clothes, a tape measure or how you physically feel. If you are exercising, you may not lose much weight according to the scale but will still look better in a mirror and will feel healthier.
- Try to gauge how weighing yourself daily makes you feel. If your daily weight chart is reinforcing your goals, then keep weighing yourself. If you feel it is undermining your efforts, than this may not be a strategy that is right for you.
Blaine Moore is a running coach in Southern Maine with 20 years of training and racing experience. Download his free report, The 3 Components of an Effective Workout, to learn why the work you put in during your training is only the third most important factor that determines how well you improve as a runner and an athlete.
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