For many of us, checking our weight on the bathroom scale can be anxiety-producing. According to Leslie Heinberg, Ph.D., Director of Enterprise Weight Management at Cleveland Clinic, knowing your weight is important, but sometimes the scale isn’t always telling the whole story.
“The scale is a horrible barometer of behavior change,” said Dr. Heinberg. “You can do everything right today – you can exercise, you can have great intake that really would make any dietitian thrilled – but then you get on the scale, and you’re up two pounds.”
Dr. Heinberg said when it comes to weighing in, even for people within a normal weight range, the average fluctuation is about five pounds.
And for those who aren’t accustomed to the normal ups and downs of their weight, the numbers can be discouraging.
She said weight fluctuation can be a result of factors such as hormones, fluid retention, or even constipation.
Dr. Heinberg said writing weight down can help people follow trends over time. If someone notices that their weight is consistently up after days or weeks, then it probably really is up.
But obsessively weighing, or checking body fat, every day will likely make someone miserable.
However, Dr. Heinberg said folks shouldn’t bypass the scale altogether, because when upward trends are caught early, it’s easier to make a course-correction.
“You have to get over a little bit of that anxiety – your weight is what it is, whether you’re measuring it or not – but, having that information is going to allow you to make the small tweaks to your lifestyle to continue toward what your goals are.”
Dr. Heinberg recommends picking two days a week to weigh in – and be consistent. Try to step on the scale at the same time of day, wearing the same amount of clothing each time.