Losing Weight: How Often Should You Step on the Scale?

Posted February 27, 2013 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

If you’ve ever been on a journey to losing weight (don’t lie, everyone has), you’ve probably asked yourself this question: “How often should I weigh in?” I have personally been intimately acquainted with this question. During any period of weight loss in my life, I’ve generally become a “weigh in every day” kind of person. A few months back, I decided to take a month long break from weighing myself, and it nearly drove me mad. Now, I try to go for once a week, but that doesn’t always work.

I was delighted to see that my friends at Optum Health are answering just this question. Of course, they discourage daily weigh-ins because your weight can fluctuate so much from day to day. But in any weigh-in, whether daily, monthly, or yearly, they have great advice. Here it is:

Whatever frequency you choose, keep these tips in mind when you step on the scale:

  • Wake up and weigh. Always try to weigh yourself first thing in the morning. During the day, your weight will rise because of the food and fluids you take in. Your morning weight will be your “truest” weight.
  • Mind the watershed. Weight usually drops the most in the first week or two of trying to lose weight. This is mainly due to water loss. Don’t be discouraged when weight loss slows down after that. It’s almost impossible to lose more than 2 pounds of pure body fat in one week.
  • Track it. Keep a log of your weekly weight. Shoot for a weight loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds a week – or 4 to 8 pounds in one month. The more slowly you lose weight, the more likely it is to stay off. Also, when losing slowly, you’re more likely to lose fat, not water or muscle.
  • Don’t panic with plateaus. It’s normal to hit a plateau after a few weeks as your body adjusts to a new weight. If you do strength training, your weight may stay the same for a while, even though you’re still decreasing your body fat content and getting healthier.
  • Set goals. After you reach your weight goal, continue to monitor it. When your weight creeps up by 2 or 3 pounds, it’s like a yellow traffic signal. Stay calm! This is just a signal for you to watch your diet and physical activity more closely.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."