Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Weigh or Not to Weigh

Is that the question? Should you hop on the scale everyday? Should you only get your numbers once per week? The answer is simple.... it depends!

First we'll start with a fact: Your body weight fluctuates each day due to a number of factors:
    • Water intake
    • Dehydration
    • Types and amount of food you eat
    • Temperature
    • Exercise
    • Travel
For me, I know if I eat sushi (the soy sauce makes me retain water) or if I've been on a plane, my body will be 1 to 2 pounds heavier the next day. It is a truth for my body. I'm a daily scale person and there are other options.

Generally speaking, there are four schools of thought on weighing your body:
  • Do so each day
  • Do so once per week
  • Do so once per month
  • Avoid it at all costs
What is best for you depends on your personality and your relationship with your scale. To find your own best plan, you have to ask yourself some tough questions. And, you have to answer honestly.

Count your As and Bs. If you have four or more As, you need to redefine your relationship with your scale. Consider the following:

The scale is a useful tool in your overall approach to your health. To be your own wellness champion, it is important to have a general idea of your weight and to understand how it relates to your energy levels, quality of your sleep, muscle aches (or lack thereof), eating habits and exercise. The decision about how many times to weigh yourself is up to you, but doing so is a tool not torture.

I like to weigh myself each day and I use the number to consider what I did the day before. I also do so first thing in the morning. Consistency of timing is critical. As I shared above, certain foods and certain activities impact my weight. If I hop on the scale and I'm two pounds heavier and I haven't eaten sushi or been on a plane, I look for other hints. If there aren't any, I am likely a bit more careful about my food intake and exercise for that day. A daily weigh in also helps me to identify any trends which is how I discovered the sushi and airplane data.

Based on the quiz answers, here are some ideas.

At a minimum, I recommend a monthly weigh in. Know your weight and get to know your body. No matter how many times you choose (monthly, weekly or daily), remember consistency is key. I think first thing in the morning makes the most sense as it becomes part of your morning routine. You can do so before bed, but understand you're body weight is likely higher in the evening than in the morning.

And, whatever your number, your goal is to identify and understand trends. If your numbers are consisently rising or dropping each day, do you know why? If not, figure it out by making some lifestyle changes and see how it impacts the scale.

Our most important job is to be our own wellness champion. The first place to start is to get back in touch with your body, know how it operates and understand how the choices you make have an impact.

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