To Weigh or Not to Weigh?

Little known fact, sometimes I work out with other people besides Brad. It’s not very often, but it happens. If I do, it’s usually with another lady friend and I can say in all honesty that those are some of my least productive workouts. No offense, girlfriends, that’s just the way history has chosen to repeat itself. The majority of the workout is spent chatting and catching up and asking questions, which I’m okay with, but I try to keep it from happening very often. I like my solo grueling workouts, I guess I’m selfish in that way.

Often during these partner workouts, the questions and chatter revolve around weight, either excess or lack thereof, and whether it really all matters at the end of the day. Questions popping up like: Should I be weighing myself to track progress? Isn’t body fat percentage the most accurate measurement? Shouldn’t I be looking in the mirror instead? Or maybe I should only be focusing on how well my clothes fit? If I do weigh myself, how often should I be doing it? What time of day should I be weighing myself? Does it really give me good insight into progress? What is the meaning of life? (Alright, maybe the last one doesn’t come up as often…)

All good questions, and all of them I will answer. This blog should be pretty simple- I just tell you whether you should weigh yourself or not and you’ll be on your merry way, or WEIGH (I make jokes sometimes). Absolutely correct. I’m going to give you the most condensed answers I possibly can in the next couple of paragraphs because this is an incredibly popular and controversial topic in the fitness world and I truly could write a small chapter book about it all. But I won’t (you can breathe now). Some experts say yes, weigh yourself daily; others say no, just look in the mirror, use body part measurements, body fat percentage, and pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. I’m going to be a politician here and say that I agree with all of them. Everyone is correct! Confused yet? Good. Here we go.

It’s really no wonder why people are afraid of the scale. I mean, it’s not like we keep our scales in sunshiny-rainbow places in the house. Be honest with me, where is your scale hiding right now? Under the bathroom sink? Next to your dirty toilet? Under your bed with the little dust bunnies? Or maybe you don’t even own one and all you are picturing is that huge clunky metal contraption that is in your doctor’s office (not exactly the happiest place to end up). I’ve never heard of anyone keeping their scale in their living room, all waxed and shined up, ready to be used and admired at a moment’s notice. No way. Truth be told, Brad and I keep our scale in a very dreary, dark place in the bathroom. It’s in the spooky, lonely linen closet where I keep things that shouldn’t be seen every day, like toilet paper and Windex. So on the occasion that I go weigh myself, I stare down at the lonesome little dusty scale and I am reminded of how bleak the current situation is. I lift my foot to step on and it’s like dipping a toe into the ocean, unsure if it will be warm or freezing, unsure if a shark may come up and take a nibble. The fear, the uncertainty, the anticipation kills me.

Stepping on the scale is clearly stressful, so why even do it? Well, for some people it can bring stability and satisfaction. It may let them know that they are making progress and staying on track. For instance, in the world of bodybuilding it is extremely important to be tracking weight as you go into competition because every ounce counts before you step on stage. Which is why I agree with weighing yourself daily. It is a very good progress monitor and a sure-fire way to report gains/losses to yourself or your coach. Brad and I recommend weighing yourself every day around the same time, first thing in the morning, before consumption of water or food, and always after using the restroom, preferably minus clothing (ew, gross!). Now that you’ve got an awesome mental picture of your haggard naked self, morning breath, messy hair, stepping onto the deathtrap, you’re probably thinking YAY! SHE ANSWERED MY ONE LIFE QUESTION! HOORAY, NOW I WILL GO WEIGH MYSELF! Whoa there, Nelly. Pull the reigns back a little and hear me out.

For others (maybe even yourself), stability and satisfaction is the last thing that the scale lends out, and that’s okay. Although some may disagree with me, I would recommend that someone only weigh themselves when they are ready. Anyone who wants to weigh themselves should be good and prepared for a variety of answers, whether negative or positive. Think of it this way: Its like when you were in high school and you wanted to borrow the car to go see your boyfriend but you knew your dad might say no so you hesitate and cringe at the thought of asking, BUT there was a good chance that he would say yes (because you helped him load firewood all day, if you don’t believe me, see attached picture) so you prep yourself all day long—you go through every possible scenario, how to ask him, when to ask him, all the details that might allow for a yes, what will happen if he says no, etc.—THEN you finally gather up the strength to ask. You were prepared and ready for a yes OR a no and you knew that either way, you were going to move forward after getting the answer.

Similarly, it's kind of like that when you go weigh yourself; not as dramatic, but nonetheless, you have to be prepared for the answer. If the scale reads that you gained weight, are you ready for that? If the answer is no and you’re going to get down on yourself even after one pound of weight gain, then I would advise that you don’t weigh yourself. Do not weigh yourself until you are prepared for the scale to say what you don’t want to know. For the past week since I got back from vacation, I haven’t weighed myself because I haven’t been prepared for the answer. That is not fear. That is me just knowing I’m not where I want to be and I don’t need the scale feeding me negativity. Instead, I have focused on how healthy I feel throughout the day and during workouts and also how I look in the mirror, perfect tools for tracking my progress at this moment in time. Will I get back to weighing myself every morning? Absolutely, because I value what the scale reads.

It has taken me years and years to be okay with weighing myself or not weighing myself, and its truly because I know that my weight doesn’t determine my worth. My weight and the numbers on the scale don’t determine how much progress I have made both physically and mentally. For instance, last Easter I weighed 140 and didn’t like how I looked, and barely had any muscle to show for the 7 years of CrossFit I had endured. This year, I still weigh 140 and I look completely different and love how much muscle I have gained (high five, diet!). I weighed the same in each photo, my point being that weight doesn’t always indicate progress. There are other great tools to help you if you aren’t ready to face the scale.

I want to stress how important it is to build a healthy relationship with your weight and what the scale reads, yes even if you are overweight. Remember, it is solely a device used to display a number, a number that you have control of. Think back to when you were a kid and you had to participate in the science fair (nerdy glasses, the smell of vinegar pungent throughout the gymnasium, cardboard poster behind you with large misspelled words, etc.). You had an experiment with a control and variables, and then you had measurements of progress. What kinds of tools did you use to measure? Was it only one tool? Probably not. Hopefully not. That’s because anyone who’s relatively intelligent knows that if you are going to measure progress, you need to examine from different angles and with a variety of tools. Body part measurements, before-and-after pictures, mirror reflection, and clothing sizes are all great tools to be using when trying to lose weight, maintain weight, or bulk up.

To consolidate all of the above information into one cheat sheet I give you this:

1. Weigh yourself daily, but only when you are prepared for the answer. It is a great measure of progress and it will come in handy when/if you need to fine-tune your body (bodybuilders, aesthetic enthusiasts, I’m talking to you).

2. If you are not ready to face the scale, THAT IS OKAY. Start or continue your fitness journey regardless, because there are many other tools available to you in order to measure progress. Just know that eventually, you will need to drift toward using the scale as a unit of measurement so get comfortable with that idea.

3. How do you get comfortable? Build a healthy relationship with the scale and understand that the pounds do not determine your worth. You are worthy of feeling confident and strong, and if you can maintain a positive and encouraging state of mind while still weighing yourself daily, then please keep doing it. If your negativity stems from using the scale, then just take a break.

Easy. Simple.

Remember - you are worth it.

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