When you are working at losing weight, the scale can be one of the most important tools that you have available to you. The reason is that measuring results is a very important part of effective goal setting and achievement. It lets you know where you were when you started, it allows you to track your progress, and it indicates when you have achieved your goals. However, as is the case with all tools, it is important to know how to use it in order to do so successfully.
There are times that a scale can let you know when you are seeing success and failure, but at the same time, it is not the only tool that allows you to gauge your achievements. There are times when the scale can actually be misleading to you as a result of a broad range of different reasons. It is completely possible for your waist line to steadily shrink, even though you seem to be sitting at a weight plateau. It’s important to know when not to watch the scale.
The best way to use a scale as a tool for healthy weight loss is to know when you should and when you should not get on. While it is a good idea to weigh yourself one time per week, at the very start of the same day of the week, naked (or wearing as little as possible), you should also know when you should decide not to weigh watch the scale. Use the following to help you know when not to weigh yourself:
• After a meal or drinking a lot of water. The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning, before you’ve had anything to eat. The worst time is after you’ve just had a big meal. You don’t gain fat right away after eating. Instead, you have more weight from the undigested food that is sitting in your stomach, and from the fluid retention caused by the sodium contained in that food. The odds are that the scale will not be accurate for several hours after eating.
• Throughout the first few weeks of a new fitness program or diet plan. Go ahead and weigh yourself before you begin so that you know your starting point. From that point, you might want to leave the scale alone for a couple of weeks or even a month. Otherwise, what you’ll see is rapid weight loss at the beginning and then a sudden slowing or even what appears to be a complete stop. That will play games with your motivation, despite the fact that you’re not any less successful several weeks in than you were at the start. Your body composition could be changing for less fat and more muscle, which makes it appear that weight isn’t being lost, when you are indeed burning fat away.
• Right after a workout. Even if you have just done the best workout of your life, any fat that you have burned off won’t register right away. It doesn’t happen immediately in a measurable way. In fact, the body often continues to burn fat for quite a while after the workout is complete. Moreover, even if it did, because the hydration balance of your body is thrown off after a workout, it would be difficult to tell if you had lost fat or water weight. Stick to a regular weekly weigh in, instead of constantly trying to measure the impact of every individual effort you make.
Knowing when to watch the scale can be a valuable lesson when trying to lose weight. Practicing these tips will help you stay on track.