My sister and I were discussing the scale this morning, and it got me thinking about whether or not it was wise to have a scale accessible every day if you’re trying to lose weight.  My scale is in the bathroom, so I can step on it whenever I want.  My sister uses the scale at the gym and weighs in every week.  So, my question is, for people that struggle with body image issues, which is the better method:  mine or my sisters?

When I struggled with an eating disorder in college, I’d have to go to the health center to be weighed once a week to see if I was gaining.  When they weighed me, they made me stand backwards on the scale so I wouldn’t see the numbers.  Psychologically, they knew I couldn’t handle it.  And they were right.  Truth be told, I wonder if that’s still the case today.  Sometimes, I find myself using the scale for “motivation”.  Even if the number is up by 1/10 of a pound, I immediately begin to tell myself that if I keep this up, I’ll never lose weight, and begin to think I’m disgustingly obese with no hope of ever losing.  Not really the best self talk, huh?  My sister finds that even though she lost a pound this week, she’s still frustrated with the slow progress and wishes she could weigh herself every day.  However, her boyfriend fears she’ll turn such a ritual into unhealthy habits such as food deprivation and poor self image.

Opinions on this vary online.  Some articles say that weighing yourself every day can contribute to long-term weight loss, while others say that since your weight fluctuates so much daily and even weekly, it’s not such a good idea.  The article linked to above actually says both in the same write up!  While some women are able to use the scale as positive motivation, women that struggle with disordered eating may have the tendency to turn the scale into their worst nightmare.

Whatever you choose to do, keep in mind these tips when you come face to face with your scale:

1.)  Weigh yourself in the morning after you’ve been to the bathroom, with no clothes on.  If you’re going to weigh yourself once a day, or once a week, make sure you’re weighing yourself at the same time consistently for the most accurate reading.

2.)  Keep in mind that things like eating a big meal, eating meals high in sodium, etc. can cause your weight to fluctuate during the day.  Resist the urge to weigh yourself more than once a day at different times.

3.)  If you find that jumping on the scale each day is causing you to obsess in an unhealthy fashion over your weight, put the scale out of sight.  Take it out once a week to weigh in, or have a friend/partner do the weigh ins for you so you don’t see the numbers.

4.)  Remember that weight can sometimes be an inaccurate measure of your health.  Take measurements monthly on your waist size, or whatever else you’re interested in, and be sure to factor in your BMI as a guide.

Whatever your method for tracking your weight loss, remember that depriving your body of the nutrients found in food is counterproductive to losing weight.  Whatever the number, never let yourself get so frustrated that you stop eating!  Be realistic about your calorie needs to ensure that your body does not start storing fat instead of burning it.