While I’ve talked about the importance of measuring body fat percentage, I think tracking your body weight over time is also very important. Unfortunately, most people track their weight incorrectly and don’t understand the most important reason WHY they should even bother.
When most people try to lose, or even gain weight, they try to weigh themselves every day, or even multiple times per day, which is at best a waste of time, and at worst, compulsive, and even counterproductive (I admit I’ve done this). Day to day, it’s almost impossible to track meaningful changes in your body. It’s like trying to measure how fast grass grows on a daily basis. Pretty silly, right?
Daily weight-ins can make you go crazy because of changes in water weight. Your body is comprised of 60-75% water, which depends on the amount of muscle you have (muscle contains more water than fat). Small fluctuations in your hydration level can change your body weight by a few pounds. If you are weighing yourself multiple times per day, any changes in body weight will be a results of changes in hydration level.
Using the scale to track your body weight is a proxy for measuring changes in body fat on a more frequent basis, not trying to figure out how your hydration levels fluctuates. Measuring changes in body fat can be verified on a bimonthly, or monthly basis with body fat percentage tests.
I believe the best way to track your body weight is to weigh yourself every Monday morning after excretion. Conducting your weigh-in on a weekly basis at the same time of day allows you to track changes in your body weight far more accurately. The morning works best because you have not eaten any food, or drank any fluids, so it’s more likely your hydration levels will be similar to the previous week.
The reason I make every one of my clients track his or her body weight is not just to see if they are gaining, or losing fat, but for accountability. Without accountability, it’s very easy to make excuses and very hard to make positive changes. I have some coaching clients who simply email me a few times per week just so they have someone to keep them in line. The scale is one way of keeping you in line.
Do you notice why I chose Monday as opposed to the other 6 days of the week? Monday is strategically placed after the weekend, which is when most people swerve off the road. During the week it’s easy to get in a routine, whereas the weekends are less structured, which is prime time for mindless overeating and drinking.
I understand weighing yourself and being accountable for your (oftentimes) subconscious actions can be VERY stressful and emotional. I’ve had clients who would slip up during the weekend, then basically refuse to weight themselves on Monday morning. They didn’t want to see how their actions directly caused them to gain weight.
In fact, even after a couple slip ups, some people will completely stop weighing themselves, which is a MASSIVE mistake. Yes, being accountable and responsible for our actions can be tough, but you can look yourself in the mirror and honestly say that you are trying. Have courage and take responsibility for your actions, even if sometimes they seem uncontrollable.
Just as the stock market goes up and down, changes in your body weight may not be perfectly linear. Over time however, assuming you are trying to gain, or lose weight, the scale reading should move in the right direction. If you are maintaining your weight, my suggestions is to give yourself a 5 pound range so that if you go outside the range on either side, then you can take the appropriate actions.
As you are trying to lose fat, changes may not be linear because (1) hydration may be a factor, (2) you may gain some muscle, (3) you didn’t have any changes in your body. My suggestion is that if you have the same weight after a couple weeks, then reflect on what could have happened, then consider tweaking your game plan.
So what scale should you use to track your body weight? I prefer Digital scales, which give you an accurate reading in 0.2 pound increments. Even losing 0.4, or 0.6 pounds in a week can be motivating, because you are still moving in the right direction. With analog scales, it’s much harder to perceive these more minuscule changes. Tanita Digital Scales are considered “best of class” and range from $30-$100, with price range differences dependent on functionality and materials, not accuracy.
|Analog Scale||Digital Scale|
You can then input your weekly results in a spreadsheet, or use an online calorie tracker, or app that also allow for tracking weight over time. If you don’t know how to calculate your ideal weight, you can check out my article on the Ideal Body Weight Formula.
I hope this has cleared up some confusion for you about how you can track your body weight and the real reason why it’s so important!