Healthy Eating for Your Active Lifestyle

The scale – what other household tool can bring such a mix of anticipation, fear and even dread? Frequent weigh-ins may be recommended as a way to self-monitor and help keep your weight on track. But what if the number on the scale holds too much power? Is weighing frequently a good idea for everyone? Here is what you need to consider to help decide what’s right for you.

How Often Should I Weigh Myself?


And the research says…

Recently, research has recommended that you weigh yourself often when trying to lose weight or to help maintain a healthy weight. These studies, done primarily with overweight or obese women, include frequent weighing as a part of weight loss treatment. One study in particular found that those who weighed themselves every day lost more weight than those who weighed themselves even as much as five times per week. However, it is difficult to say if the people who weighed more often were simply more motivated to lose weight or if those who were successful in losing weight continued to weigh themselves often because of the positive results.

Weighing yourself often is a form of self-monitoring , a practice that is important in making and sustaining healthy changes. When it comes to weight loss or maintenance, the reason weighing yourself often may be helpful is because it raises awareness. Weighing can help you pause and reflect on your habits and consider how food, exercise and other lifestyle factors may be impacting your weight. However, frequent weigh-ins can also cause anxiety, be interpreted incorrectly and lead to unhealthy behaviours.

The downside to frequent weigh-ins

  • It can be misinterpreted – Weight is always shifting based on factors such as fluid, hormones, meals and medications. This means that looking at the overall trend in your weight is very important. If a small increase in weight leads to anxiety and unhealthy behaviours, such as skipping meals, weighing yourself often can promote an unhealthy lifestyle.
  • It can put all the focus on weight – It is important to remember that weight is not a direct measure of health. Health consists of factors such as sleep, exercise, eating habits, immunity and energy level, to name a few. Being able to control your weight doesn’t necessarily reflect healthy habits in your life.

How often should I weigh myself?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. How often you weigh yourself comes down to how you view and use the number on the scale.

Objectively – If you look at the number on the scale objectively, you will find yourself agreeing with these statements:

  • Weighing myself helps me reflect on my lifestyle and look at the big picture when it comes to my health habits.
  • When my weight is trending up, I consider my whole lifestyle, from how much sleep I’m getting to my stress level to my eating habits.
  • I am okay with day-to-day changes in my weight because I know factors like hydration, hormones, medications and meals can all cause small gains and losses.
  • I know that weight isn’t the only measure of health. I regularly consider other factors like energy level, sleep, overall eating habits and physical activity.

If you can honestly look at the big picture and make healthy lifestyle changes as a result, you may be able to use weigh-ins as a helpful self-monitoring tool. Weekly or monthly weights may be best when it comes to looking at trends, as day-to-day changes can be difficult to reflect on.

Obsessively – If you are obsessive about the number on the scale, these statements will likely ring true:

  • I need to weigh myself every day or many times a day to make sure I haven’t gained weight.
  • If my weight has gone up, I cut calories or exercise more that day.
  • I am not okay with fluctuations in my weight; they mean that I have overeaten or not exercised enough.
  • Weight is the only measure of health I need.
  • What I weigh influences how I feel about myself and the day ahead.

When weighing becomes obsessive, it has likely become more than a self-monitoring tool. Weight can become more than a measure of health when it impacts your self-worth or sense of accomplishment. If this is true for you, take a step back and consider what health means to you and how you can best measure this. Forgetting about the scale may be necessary.

Bottom line

Weighing yourself should be an objective tool to help assess your health. If you can really use the scale objectively, weekly or monthly weigh-ins may be fine. However, for some, frequent weigh-ins can be damaging to health. If this is the case, consider other measures that will help you assess your health.

Kristina Isaac

Registered Dietitian

Kristina (BSc, RD) is a registered dietitian and nutrition educator at Alberta Milk.
Through programs, presentations and writing, she enjoys finding creative, fun and simple ways to communicate the science of nutrition.

Article posted on June 1, 2016



Active Tip

Be active with your children. Take walks or bike rides, go swimming and get in the pool, play a game of basketball or soccer in the yard.

The Expert Says

It is important to remember that weight is not a direct measure of health. Health consists of factors such as sleep, exercise, eating habits, immunity and energy level, to name a few. Being able to control your weight doesn’t necessarily reflect healthy habits in your life.