What to Know Before Stepping on a Scale

Many of us would rather chuck our bathroom scale out the window then step one little pinky toe onto it. But if you're trying to lose weight, a scale is a pretty effective tool. Here are some things to know before that next weigh-in to help make it less traumatizing and more effective in helping you drop pounds.


Why the Numbers Aren't Dropping

You're trying to lose weight, so you've changed your diet and are exercising at least five times a week. You notice that you're getting stronger, your clothes fit better, and you look slimmer, but when you step on the scale, the numbers are actually going up! What gives? You may have heard that "muscle weighs more than fat," but more accurately, the reasoning behind this is that muscle is denser than fat. Since you're losing fat but gaining muscle, a regular scale will show your weight staying the same or even increasing. And even though this is a good thing, it can still make you feel terrible. Try purchasing a scale that also tracks your body fat percentage, and this will offer a more accurate guide to your progress. Also, use your own body as a guide, if you look more toned and clothes are fitting better, your efforts are paying off!

When to Weigh Yourself

The best time to hit the scale is first thing in the morning after using the bathroom and before eating breakfast. This will provide you with the most accurate read on your weight. If the morning doesn't work for your schedule, make sure you weigh yourself at the same time, and on the same scale, to keep things consistent.

Research also shows that Friday is the best day to weigh yourself if you're trying to lose weight. That's because most people tend to gain weight on the weekend because of eating out, downing a few cocktails, and relaxing instead of exercising. Then on Monday they vow to eat well and hit the gym, so weight decreases with the lowest point being that last day of the weekday, Friday.


Stepping on the scale doesn't have to be a daily occurrence. If you weigh yourself every single day — or even multiple times a day — you'll discover that your weight is constantly fluctuating depending on when or what you've eaten or drank, your salt intake (sodium causes water retention), when you've last used the bathroom, how much you've sweat, etc. These little dips and rises in your weight can be detrimental to your self-confidence as well as your determination to stick with your healthy ways. Once a week is perfect because it'll allow you to see your progress over time.

Ditch Them or Use Them?

Most people despise scales and only step on one when they have to at their annual checkup, but this isn't a great idea either. If you're trying to drop pounds, judging your weight based on how you feel won't help you accurately monitor progress — especially if you sport elastic yoga pants every day! If using a scale conjures up major anxiety, just stick to once a week or twice a month. Knowing that number is another way to help you keep tabs on your health, so you can know whether or not you need to step it up in the kitchen or gym, or if you can crack a smile and keep doing what you're doing.